Current Project: "Suikoden II"
<The Crowd-fuding succeeded! The release date to be April 2019!>
Video game music, like film music, is an emerging genre that is on the verge of becoming part of the general concert repertoires. Although some pieces of video game music already have been recorded and performed, we at VGM Classics feel that more of them deserve such treatment and attention. Indeed, we established VGM Classics as an American company with the goal of wanting “to have more orchestral recordings of the video game music that we love and admire.”
We have started new a campaigns: “Suikoden II” for your consideration.
“Suikoden II” is a role-playing video game developed and published by Konami for the PlayStation system in 1998. The original music was based on orchestral and ethnic sounds that reflected the many cultures and feelings that permeated the story. We thought that the music, as well as the story, deserved a full orchestral treatment. After this fundraising is successful and we have delivered recordings to our contributors, we plan to continue to other titles from the series.
Of course, a project like this intrinsically needs someone who can transform the instrumentally and artistically restricted original melodies into a full concert orchestral medium, but we did not wish to ask just any musicians to do the job. We wanted to entrust this important and challenging task to someone who had experience both in the video game industry and in concert music and with whom we could confidently work on a long-term basis. A long and careful search has led us to select the composer/conductor Kentaro Sato, and he has agreed to join VGM Classics as the music director who will oversee and direct the recording. Mr. Sato is the orchestral and choral mastermind behind such video game titles as the “DISSIDIA Final Fantasy” series, “Final Fantasy Type-0,” “Ghost Recon AW 1&2,” and some of the “Medal of Honor” titles.
The prospective orchestra is the Budapest Symphony Orchestra (BPSO). BPSO was founded in 1992 by members of the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (HRSO) for projects and activities outside their usual performance and broadcast duties. Over the years, BPSO has provided wonderful orchestral colors for many classical music, film, and television productions. For more information, please visit our website.
The Crowd-funding and the Pledge Goal
We chose to crowd-fund our projects simply because we thought that there was no other way to make our goal a reality and sustain it. A full-length CD album recording of a full symphony orchestra could not be imagined without a production budget of at least US$40,000. Of course, the actual final product might cost over $100,000, depending on ensemble size, duration of the music, license fees, etc. Although US$40,000 is a lot of money for an individual to pay, if we scale the project appropriately and a community of like-minded persons splits the cost, it becomes within reach. With suggestions from our patrons, we formulated a plan that focuses on making a video game music album by a full orchestra a reality, but one that requires a lesser amount of money from our patrons for starting a project. The pledge goal for this campaign is $15,000, with the extended pledge goal of $27,500 and $40,000. In other words, we have adjusted the amount of music that we will record for an album to the amount of money that the fundraising campaign will attract. Here is the scale of recording levels, with their estimated recording time, and the necessary pool of patrons:
- $15,000 = a medium album (20 to 36 minutes of music) = 300 to 430 patrons;
- $27,500 = a full album (30 to 54 minutes of music) = 550 to 790 patrons;
- $40,000 = an extended album (40 to 72 minutes of music) = 800 to 1150 patrons.
We had considered offering a short album (10 to 18 minutes), but many of our patrons felt that a short album was too short and that a medium album would be a better and more realistic starting point for our projects. After all, there already are many video game music orchestral albums in this category, such as “Symphonic Suite from ACTRAISER” (30 minutes) and “Star Fox Assault: an Orchestra Sound” (20 minutes), and there are also numerous well-known classical orchestral suites, such as the “Nutcracker suite” (23 minutes) by Tchaikovsky.
The Pledge Levels
In order to guarantee its viability and authenticity, we decided to seek all-or-nothing crowd-funding at Kickstarter, which means that if the target amount were not met in pledges, the money itself would not be collected and patrons would not be charged. We have prepared several pledge levels to accommodate different patron needs, and we hope that you will find a pledge level that suits you:
- Lv. 1, Fan = $15 for mp3 (download);
- Lv. 2, HD Fan = $25 for HD FLAC (HD/Hi-Res audio files download);
- Lv. 3, Supporter = $35 for a pressed CD;
- Lv. 4, Founder = $60 for a pressed CD, FLAC (HD/Hi-Res audio files and a bonus files download), and a credit listing in the CD booklet;
- Lv. 5, Producer = $250 for a pressed CD, FLAC (HD/Hi-Res audio files and a bonus files download), a credit listing in the CD booklet, and access to a full orchestral score book.
An mp3 file is at 320kbps, and a FLAC file is at 96kHz/24bit. Supporter, Founder, and Producer level patrons can buy one or two extra pressed CDs for $20 each: simply add the appropriate amount for what you want when you pledge. The Founder and Producer levels will include (if any) bonus materials, arrangements, and files that will not be included in the CD. In addition, Founder and Producer level participants’ names (actual name or desired pseudonym) will be acknowledged with a listing in the pressed CD booklet. Producer level patrons also will have access to a printed music book of a conductor’s full orchestral score in A4 (similar to US letter size). Since this is an internal document, we will ask you to sign a simple form stating that you—as one of the producers—will treat the score as such. The orchestral score and parts will NOT be sold to the general public.
If this project ends successfully, we would continue to crowd-fund other game titles from the same series and/or beyond. Initially, we plan to focus on classic video game titles from the 1990s and early 2000s, because one of the motives behind the founding of VGM Classics was the fact that it has been very difficult for American game music lovers to obtain Japanese video game soundtrack/arrangement CDs from those decades. However, we could consider titles on any old and new gaming platforms. Since we are not affiliated with any single video game company, the project possibilities are virtually endless. Of course, for such future projects, we will welcome your requests and suggestions. VGM Classics is for fans and concert ensemble lovers. We will do our best to make your wishes come true.
We expect that our projects not only will fulfill the wishes of game music lovers, but also will contribute to the advancement of musical art and culture at large. Please support us and the video game music that you love.
<Are your records licensed?>
In a word, yes, the upcoming records will be licensed.
Unfortunately, we are not able to answer this question at greater length without going into contractual issues specific to this project that are confidential. However, the answers to some general licensing questions regarding our projects are now available on our official website, which you should feel free to visit in your spare time. Some of the questions that you will find answered there are:
“Do you plan to do live concerts?”
“Will you sell video of the recording sessions?”
“Are your records licensed?”
“Will VGM Classics invite composers and artists of the original games to participate in its projects?”
<Will you sell your recording to the general public?>
After we have distributed all the rewards to our patrons, if there are any pressed CDs left, we might consider offering them for sale to non-patrons. Any sales plan to the general public is undecided and not guaranteed at this point.
<Do you offer a vinyl LP as a reward option? >
Unfortunately, we cannot offer a vinyl LP as one of the reward options for the initial crowd-funding campaign for recording, because production and distribution for a vinyl LP are considerably more expensive than those for a CD. However, after the initial recording, production, and distribution of the CD are successfully completed, we could offer an additional Kickstarter campaign specifically aimed at the production and distribution of a vinyl LP.
< How many musicians will be involved?>
That will largely be determined by the total amount of the pledges that we collect. However, in accordance with the determination of our music director, the minimum number of musicians involves will be sixty for a full orchestra.
< Could you disclose the detailed production budget?>
Because of contractual requirements, we cannot fully disclose that information. However, the CD production of 1000 copies with international shipping will cost about $6,000. The recording costs involve fees for musicians, studios, engineers, score preparation, mixing, and post-production. There are also license fees for copyright owners and other related parties. In addition, Kickstarter’s fee is about 8% of the total pledge amount. Broadly speaking, your pledge will cover about 50 to 70% of the total cost of each pledge goal.