Posts tagged ‘IGT’

September 28, 2013

LOGOS

IGT Sign

IGT unveiled its new logo to the world this past week at the annual G2E trade show in Las Vegas. The photo above is the new sign in front of our corporate headquarters in Reno. As a composer at IGT, I have been aware for several months that the logo would be changing. But what I didn’t realize is how important a simple logo can be to identifying a brand.

IGT’s investment in branding made me think about how we perceive a product or service. So I decided to make a change to the Credits page on my Web site (http://www.duanedecker.com/credits.html) to be more in line with other sites that I respect. That included removing all of the tiny pictures of specific projects that I have worked on and replacing them with logos from some of the companies that have used my music.

As I started collecting the photos and arranging them on the page, I instantly recognized small images that meant something special to me. The more images I added, the more I realized that we all recall our own experiences when we see a familiar logo. I guess that’s where the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” came from.

Amazing how powerful a tiny graphic design can be.

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November 17, 2012

EXPANDING YOUR REACH

To quote Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg address: “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here …”

The same is true for composers whose work speaks within a larger project. Their names are usually buried at the end of the credits, which most people will never pay attention to. How many people actually stay in the theater to read the credits at the end of a movie or dig through documentation to find out who composed the music score for a game? Most people only remember whether they liked or disliked their entertainment experience.

So it always amazes me to hear from fans who actually care enough and take the time and energy to send me an e-mail or post a note on my blog, Facebook page or YouTube channel.

Getting to the point of having my music reach so many people has been a lifetime commitment, though. And every composer has his or her own path and learns different skills along the way.

I started out playing in school bands and rock bands. In college, I designed and co-built my first synthesizer, which enabled me to offer more diverse and unique shows. Exposure to this music was limited to those who came to my shows or heard my recordings on the radio.

I then moved on to being a product specialist/clinician for synthesizer manufacturers because of my knowledge of both music and technology. While it offered almost no exposure for my music, I learned a vast amount about music technology. That enabled me to start composing for games.

I never thought that my pinball games would expand my reach. But I uploaded a montage of my pinball music to YouTube recently. Much to my surprise, it is one of the more popular videos on my channel. It seems that there are fans of old school pinball music who love that Lo-Fi audio experience.

Because of my pinball experience, I was able to join FASA Interactive, creating music for the “MechWarrior 3” and “MechCommander” video games. Because of the success of those games, FASA Interactive was acquired by Microsoft Game Studios. That led to scoring the soundtracks for “MechWarrior 4” and its expansion packs, “Rise Of Nations” and a host of other smaller projects.

When I left Microsoft in 2003 to form my own music production company, it allowed me to score the soundtracks for “Rise Of Legends,” “Civilization Revolution,” “Defense Grid” and several small projects.

I am now a full time composer/sound designer at IGT, the largest manufacturer of slot machines in the world. My music is heard in casinos on five continents. I could have never gotten to this point without the notoriety I’ve gained by reaching out and seeking publicity throughout the years.

Beyond the body of work, I always made a conscious effort to keep my name out there through personal contact and writing published feature stories for newspapers, music trade magazines and game Web sites.

These days, it is a given that you need to have a Web presence. My Web site, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, blog and YouTube channel all contribute to creating publicity for my work and reaching a wider audience. While you may think that it’s not necessary to continue pursuing more visibility when you have a great job, quite the opposite is true.

Although I work for a large company now, all of my individual work contributes to the overall success of the company. When you work on creative teams, you are motivated by others on your team. If I know that a colleague has received patent awards or worked on world-class games, films and TV shows, etc., I am inspired to do my best work.

When you aspire to be a musician or a composer, exposure is key to building a fan base and a successful career. You will start small and you must never expect that the world will come knocking at your door just because you were the most talented kid in your school.

If you commit to a career in music, if you truly believe that you can withstand all the obstacles that will inevitably be thrown in your path, and know very deep in your heart that this is the only thing that you want to do for a career, you have a chance to succeed. Let the world know that you have something valuable to contribute by expanding your reach and making it easier for people to find your music.

July 13, 2012

VARIETY IS KEY TO COMPOSING

If you’ve ever said, “I wouldn’t be caught dead composing [insert your least favorite musical style here]”, then you’re probably not going to make a living as a full-time composer. That’s not to say that you can’t excel in your chosen style and become wealthy and famous. It simply means that the majority of composers are usually challenged with creating music in genres that are either new to them or that they actually dislike for one reason or another.

In the case of being faced with something that I’ve never done before, I had never created an eight-minute overture in sonata allegro form for a live symphony orchestra. Yet my good friend Gabriel Sakakeeny asked me to do just that for the American Philharmonic – Sonoma County. It was a big challenge to learn how to arrange music that I had written for video games and put it into a format that is centuries old.

Then there is the inevitable project that uses a musical genre that you don’t care for. When I was playing live in the ’70s and ’80s, there were tons of club and concert venues across the U.S. and Canada that hired live bands to perform every night. Then came the disco era and these venues could draw big crowds by simply hiring a DJ to spin dance records. Naturally, it became harder for a live music act to play enough shows to make a living. I always thought the musicianship on some of these records was outstanding, but they were taking work away from me. So I viewed disco music with a fair amount of contempt.

But fast forward to today. In my job at IGT, I get to create and arrange tracks in a very wide variety of styles. I am currently working on two games that have licensed disco tracks. When I was told about it, I smiled and said, “Yes, I can do that” when the producers asked. The game designer knew how much I disliked disco and now teases me by calling me “Disco Duane” (with a smile on his face, of course).

But after copying, arranging, performing and producing every last note of these songs, I have a newfound appreciation for the genre. Both “Fire” by Ohio Players and “Disco Inferno” by The Trammps are extremely well- written, performed and produced records that were chart-toppers in their day. I learned a lot about funk rhythm and style that I will certainly use in other projects in the future. The down side, however, is that now I can’t stop humming “disco inferno, burn that motha down …”

So if you’re planning on being a composer for a living, continue to learn about and explore other styles of music. Even if you don’t care for the style, it will give you a larger composing palette that will come in handy and increase your value in the future. Next big challenge for me – opera!

If you’d like to see how many different musical styles I’ve taken on, the credits page on my Web site will give you a pretty good idea.

http://www.duanedecker.com/credits.html

Here’s a picture from my high-tech solo act.

June 6, 2012

FROM GAMES TO GAMING

People who know my video game music have sometimes asked why I transitioned from making those types of games to working in the gaming industry. As any composer for games, TV or film will tell you (although they may not admit it out loud), being an independent composer can be a wild roller coaster ride. To be more blunt, it is a “feast or famine” career environment. Although I’ve had abundant success in the video game industry and continue to pursue freelance projects, I felt it was time for a bit more stability.

I now work full-time for IGT (International Game Technology), which is based in Reno, Nevada and is the largest manufacturer of slot machines in the world. Whether you’re in Vegas, Paris or Hong Kong, you’re going to find IGT games on the casino floor. While it may seem like an odd transition, games and gaming aren’t that different. Both thrive on technology, art and of course, music and audio.

The level of talented people I get to work with every day is incredible. There are always new projects coming up. In fact, I’ll be scoring and doing audio design for 10 games in the next 12 months. Although there is less content needed for a single slot machine than the typical AAA video game, I get to compose, arrange and produce a lot of music in styles ranging from pop/rock and jazz to zydeco and mariachi. I’m even up for a patent for a unique way to implement music in the games.

I feel very lucky to be part of a small group of composers who specialize in slots. I would guess that there are only about 50 to 75 of us who are doing this full-time, world-wide. Since it is a very specialized field and the projects are constant, there is much more job security with great pay and benefits. I have not found this in any other part of the entertainment industry. My co-workers tell me that I smile a lot — and they look pretty happy, too.

Here’s a short video that describes a “Day In The Life” at IGT, a place where creativity is truly valued and rewarded: