After some years working in the music industry in production and composition, I'm very drawn to working specifically in sound design (games especially). But at this moment, realistically there are more opportunities immediately open to me in music composition & production. Which I appreciate! But I'm worried about not making real progress in either direction, if I try to pursue both.

Are there many examples of people who've successfully pursue both over a career? It seems clear that most people need to chose between one or the other.

Did any of you feel that either path was open to you, and chose one? How do feel about that choice?

  • To expand on the question - I understand that it's possible to do both as a generalist freelancer if you're prepared to be a smal full-service sound studio for short projects (eg trailers & adverts). But in the film and game industry, I haven't found many (any) examples of professionals who've made a career of working in both roles. I can understand that for a staff job in those industries, if you can get one, you'll need to chose a specific role. But i haven't yet found example of freelancers working in both areas, across big games or film projects.
    – user17873
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 20:37
  • Some might make a jump into another just because of pure interest. E.g. because most "sound design" work can be very mechanical, practically just finding appropriate library sounds out of hundreds or thousands of possible fits or recording very unexciting "typical sounds" that still need to be there. I think many that do or work in creative settings appreciate if they can actually apply creativity, rather than function as mere selectors. A good composer's talent could very well be lost if he/she did sound effects work instead.
    – mavavilj
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 12:41
  • "A good composer's talent could very well be lost if he/she did sound effects work instead" that struck a chord with me. If I was to pursue "sound design", it would be in game audio where there is more onus on sound creation and dynamic implimentatin. It's true that general sound effect editing for broadcast is very mechanical compared to composition. I think I'm looking for a way out of freelance work and into a staff job. And it looks like the only way to work both roles is to freelance. Thanks for the input!!
    – user17873
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 17:30
  • It's quite common to team up with some other e.g. local guys as well. I.e. make a small team of composers and sound designers, that way everyone gets to do what they want.
    – mavavilj
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 17:44

3 Answers 3


In the game industry - sound designers are hired to be there, in-house, at a desk job, while composers are payed per music/project and do not require to physically be there

  • are there many individuals in the games industry who work in both roles? I understand that on a per project level, they'll be hired for one or the other role. But is it very rare for people to work as a sound designer on one project, and a composer on the next?
    – user17873
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 20:24
  • There are people that do sound and music - generally for small or mobile projects. When things go pro it's really one way or the other but anyhow you need to know both arts at a reasonable level of expertise to achieve good quality
    – Dalv Olan
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 7:26


I myself work as a sound-designer and music composer/engineer but I have publishing (Cloud 9) and am also signed to various electronic labels.

You can definitely pursue both if you have the time, inspiration and have no problems with deadlines!

You can check out my soundcloud if you want but there's not much of the moviescores/gamemusic because of the NDA's. If you have more questions, I'm glad to help you out!

  • thanks! Can i ask a question.. do you find yourself often being expected to fulfill both roles simultaneously on a project, like a full service? Which could be a huge amount of work, depending. Or are you able to be hired as a composer on one project, a sound designer on the next. I hope that's not too direct.
    – user17873
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 20:47
  • Hi you can use the chat if you want to talk together. Best !
    – JSmith
    Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 7:53


I think they're similar enough to be combined.

Many electronic music artists recognize that what they do and what's called as composition is to them really what so called "sound design" is, because in electronic music one tends to work from a very "first principles" viewpoint anyways. By creating new unbeforeheard sounds and textures.

An NI Kontakt preset composer of course wouldn't recognize this, but thinks they're some separate areas of specialty.

  • In this case i mean "sound design" in the traditional sense of a self contained production role, in film/games/tv industries etc. Rather than a component of electronic music. I know like this board has drifted into music production general though, and yeah i do agree with your comment.
    – user17873
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 20:51

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