Q&A: Frequently-asked questions and our answers

Here are frequently-asked questions, and our answers!
· Q1. Who are you, and why are you crowd-funding your project? Could you disclose the detailed production budget?
· Q2. Are your records licensed?
· Q3. Do you sell the scores and parts? Can I use them for our live concert/performance or my own study?
· Q4. Do you plan to make big band, chamber ensembles, wind symphony, piano, and choral recordings? 
· Q5. Can a fan like me request/suggest a game title or a piece for future projects?
· Q6. Will you sell your recording to the general public?
· Q7. Will you sell video of the recording sessions?
· Q8. Will your recording be in the HD/High-Definition, surround format?
· Q9. Why have you selected Mr. Sato as your Music Director?
· Q10. Do you plan to do live concerts?
· Q11. Do you plan to make a CD featuring only one game title? Or do you also plan to make a CD focusing on a single composer?
· Q12. Will VGM Classics invite composers and artists of the original games to participate in its projects?
· Q13. What are the “DOD Edition” and “Founders' Edition” CDs?
· Q14. Do you offer a vinyl LP as a reward option of a crowd-funding campaign?
· Q15. How many musicians will be involved?
· Q16. Can I pledge with Paypal?
· Q17. Where is New Mexico? Why?

Q1. Who are you, and why are you crowd-funding your project? Could you disclose the detailed production budget?

  A1. VGM Classics is an American record label and publishing company with the goal of wanting “to have more orchestral recordings of the video game music that we love and admire.” The company was registered in the state of New Mexico as a limited liability company, and it has offices in the United States and Japan. We are proud to announce that our Music Director is Mr. Kentaro Sato, a prominent composer/orchestrator/conductor, known for his orchestral and choral works in the DISSIDIA Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy Type-0, Ghost Recon AW 1&2, and some of the Medal of Honor titles, among many others. 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 visit this page for more about our orchestra and choir.

  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 short album (20 to 36 minutes of music) = 300 to 430 patrons;
$27,500 = a medium album (30 to 54 minutes of music) = 550 to 790 patrons;
$40,000 = a full album (40 to 72 minutes of music) = 800 to 1150 patrons.

  We had considered offering a mini-album (10 to 18 minutes), but many of our patrons felt that a mini-album was too short and that a short 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” (20minutes), and there are also numerous well-known classical orchestral suites, such as the “Nutcracker suite” (23 minutes) by Tchaikovsky.

  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.

Q2. Are your records licensed?

  A2. In a word, yes, our records have been or will be licensed. Unfortunately, we are not able to answer this question at greater length without going into contractual issues specific to each project that are confidential. As a record label, we treat our admired video game music as we would treat classical/concert masterpieces. With required due process and/or helps, liceses, and permissions from the copyright owners, related parties, and/or governmental organizations, our records are properly licensed. Our compliance with the copyright act and our adherence to the artistic standards of our Music Director differentiate our products from unlicensed records and enable us to contribute to the showcasing of musical art as a whole and of video game music as a genre of that art.

Q3. Do you sell the scores and parts? Can I use them for our live concert/performance or my own study?

  A3. It depends. Although our records have been and will be created lawfull, unless the copyright owners give us permissions, we do not have publishing licenses to sell our scores and parts to the general public. The exception would be when your prospective performance or use of the scores and parts falls into the category of “fair-use” specified in Section 107 of the U. S. Copyright Act for education, charities etc. Since it is our wish to contribute to the advance of musical art and culture, we would gladly support such performance and usage to the extent our law permits. Please contact us and explain your situation.
  In the meantime, we will keep negotiating about the possibility of print publications with each and every copyrighted owner of beloved music, as it is our dream that video game music will come to be accepted as “classic” for general concert performing groups and audiences around the world. If we obtain the publishing license, of course we will make the printed scores and parts available for the general public to buy or rent just like any other classical masterworks.

Q4. Do you plan to make big band, chamber ensembles, wind symphony, piano, and choral recordings?

  A4. If there are enough requests and support, we shall.

Q5. Can a fan like me request/suggest a game title or a piece for future projects?

  A5. Absolutely! Of course, we need funding in order to make it a reality, but we always love to hear from a VGM fan like you. Although our Music Director has been involved in video game productions by companies such as SQUARE ENIX, Ubisoft, and EA, VGM Classics has been created as an independent entity for fans. Therefore, all video games, old and new, by any makers, in every platform could be considered. The possibilities are virtually limitless! Please contact us!

Q6. Will you sell your recording to the general public?

  A6. After we have distributed all the rewards to our patrons, if there are any pressed CDs left, we might plan to offer them for sale to non-patrons. Any sales plan to the general public is undecided and not guaranteed at this point.

Q7. Will you sell video of the recording sessions?

  A7. No. An audio-visual license is different from a recording license, and we do not plan to obtain an audio-visual license. Although we do video-record the recording sessions, that is for archival and press/news sake alone. However, we shall share reports of our progress and footage from the recording session via video services such as YouTube to the extent our law permits.

Q8. Will your recording be in the HD/High-Definition, surround format?

  A8. Our original recordings will be done in the HD/High-Resolution format 96kHz/24bit or higher, and will be mastered in both PCM and DSD format stereo. Our crowd-funding patrons would receive those recordings in FLAC format as our thank-you gift, depending on their level of contribution. For more information, please see a specific project's crowd-funding page. As for the surround format, the recording will be done surround ready, but we do not envision the release of surround recording initially. However, if there are enough requests, we shall.

Q9. Why have you selected Mr. Sato as your Music Director?

  A9. An orchestral recording project of video game music intrinsically needs someone who can transform the instrumentally and artistically restricted original melodies into a full concert orchestral medium. We wanted to entrust such an important and challenging task to someone with whom we could confidently work on a long-term basis. The criteria of selection were the following.

1) A candidate should have already contributed to the video game industry and video game music.
2) A candidate should be active in the concert/classical music world.
3) A candidate should be able to communicate in English.
4) A candidate should have either skill as a conductor or skill in recording direction, or both.
5) A candidate should not have been represented exclusively by any single maker, production, management, or agency.

  With these criteria in mind, we have solicited recommendations from orchestras, recording contractors, musicians' unions, recording studios, and music preparation companies around the world. Coincidentally, an overwhelming number of these organizations recommended the same person, Kentaro Sato. Some of us at VGM Classics had already been familiar with his wonderful concert choral works and with his superb orchestral and choral arrangements for the “DISSIDIA Final Fantasy” series, including compositions from “Final Fantasy I” through “Final Fantasy XIII,” and from “Final Fantasy Type-0” and “Final Fantasy Tactics.” Therefore, we have chosen Kentaro (or Ken-P, his nickname) Sato as our Music Director. With his musical guidance and your support, we hope to bring you the continually rewarding musical experiences that our beloved video game music and traditional concert ensembles offer.

Q10. Do you plan to do live concerts?

  A10. Not at this point, for two primary reasons. First, a live concert requires a great deal of planning and staffing that VGM Classics simply does not have. Although our company is not a NPO, it was setup in such a way that profit of the company goes toward the contributing musicians, and the copyright owners. We are a small independent company helped by game and classical music lovers and contributors, and we would like to keep it that way. Second, there is the issue of a performing license. Our records have been and will be produced lawfully according to the copyright act. However, live performance is different from making a record and requires several additional permissions and licenses from rightful copyright owners and other parties. The way in which this complicates matters militates against our planning any live concerts.

Q11. Do you plan to make a CD featuring only one game title? Or do you also plan to make a CD focusing on a single composer?

  A11. We primarily plan to feature one game title. However, if it artistically/practically makes sense, we shall plan to feature several game titles that are related to each other and/or are in the same series. We do not plan to feature a single composer. There are two primary reasons for our decision.
  First, since a video game is a collaborative creative process, by featuring one title, we are able to honor all the contributors (directors, artists, animators, designers, story writers, programmers, actors, etc.).
  Second, there is the issue of copyright. It is often the case that a video game involves multiple composers, both credited and uncredited. There may be no way for a third party like VGM Classics to confirm who made what, and to what extent. Therefore, if we at VGM Classics wanted to feature a single composer, we might be unable to isolate that composer's work, so we would run the risk of inadvertently violating the copyright act in connection with compositions by uncredited composers or “authors” (in the copyright term). Therefore, if a video game and its music works were published under a group copyright originally, then VGM Classics would honor that by featuring the group as a whole, but not any individual member of the group.

Q12. Will VGM Classics invite composers and artists of the original games to participate in its projects?

  A12. This answer is somewhat related to our A11. We always want to incorporate opinions from the original creators of admired works, and we would love to work with them. However, this is more complicated and difficult than you might imagine because of legal and contractual issues surrounding the authorships of the original games, artworks and music. In other words, the credited composers and artists may not be the authors of the music and artworks.

  We are able to welcome the input of the original composers and artists only when we have written permission from “the authors of the original music and/or artwork” prior to our initial public fundraising. We would have reasons why, if there was no involvement of the original staff of the featured game in our recording project, and we trust you understand.

  In most cases, VGM Classics is only given licenses to make records of musical works under the condition that our music director oversees the musical aspects of the production. Aside from “fair-use” of the original materials permitted under the copyright act, we usually do not have a license to use artworks, designs and movies from the original games.

Q13. What are the “Founders' Edition” and “DOD Edition”CDs?

  A13. A limited pressed CD as one of the crowd-funcing rewareds is called the “Founders' Edition” CD. It is a commercial-level, replicated CD made at specialized factories. The “DOD (Disc-On-Demand) Edition” is what we call an on-demand CD, and this edition exists to serve our recordings unrelated to a crowd-funding.

Q14. Do you offer a vinyl LP as a reward option of a crowd-funding campaign?

  A13. 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/DVD, and it is not possible to do on-demand version of a vinyl LP. However, after the initial recording, production, and distribution of the CD/DVD are successfully completed, we could offer an additional Kickstarter campaign specifically aimed at the production and distribution of a vinyl LP.

Q15. How many musicians will be involved?

  A15. 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” (the two-wind system). If a full orchestra is not required artistically, we will consider other or smaller instrumentation and setup. For example, one of the standard orchestral setups is called “one-wind system,” and it will require 25 to 35 musicians. This setup is common among early orchestral works in the Baroque and Classical periods, but it is also known as the instrumentation for popular orchestral works such as “Siegfried Idyll” by R. Wagner, “The Carnival of the Animals” by C. Saint-Saens, and “Peter and the Wolf” by S. Prokofiev. Of course, we will not change the instrumentation after a crowd-funding campaign.

Q16. Can I pledge with PayPal?

  A16. Kickstarter, which is our crowd-funding platform, does not support PayPal as a payment method. Currently, they only accepts a credit or debit card.

Q17. Where is New Mexico? Why?

  A17. Welcome to New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment! New Mexico, in the Southwestern Region of the United States, is the 5th largest state in area, but the 36th largest in population. Therefore, New Mexico has room for new opportunities to join its tradition of Native American and Spanish cultures and its reputation of being a haven for artists. New Mexico is not the most internationally famous of the United States, and so, for many years, its State government has been promoting the state legislatures to enact laws that would lure new business enterprises there. One such business is the entertainment and intellectual property business. In recent years, not only has the state offered incentives to the obvious investment from the US film industry, but also it has encouraged foreign investments and involvements, especially from Japan. It is not well known that among the foreign companies in New Mexico, those from Japan have been the highest percentage. In 2005, the State government established its Japan Office in Tokyo with the help of JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) with the express intent of obtaining investments from the Japanese video game and anime industries. Although that office is closed now, one of the fruits of its efforts is VGM Classics and its connections within the local Japanese-American community.

You have more questions? Please contact us!