Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Comparing launch months of my first game and my first album

(Nerve Damage is now available on basically every music platform in common use. I've embedded Spotify below, but you can pretty much find it everywhere that streams music.)

In the final weeks of 2021, after what is roughly 20 years since I started playing and making music, I released my first ever album. I wrote, recorded, mastered, everything on Nerve Damage (except for the stellar artwork which was created by Matthew Wegner). I released the album independently, which was always going to be the case, and allowed me access to all of the data regarding its performance.

In 2017, I released a videogame entirely on my own through the Steam PC platform, Starship Clicker. I had spent roughly the past 2-3 years learning how to make videogames, including teaching myself to program. Being another independent release, I have access to that data too!

Now the real question: Which of these would allow me to make a living? Short answer: Neither, and the question of profitability is complicated by various factors.

Without getting into raw numbers, let's establish some key facts:

Nerve Damage (Music album)

  • Released Dec 2021.
  • Comprised of seven tracks, created over the course of 2021.
  • Priced at USD$7 (in line with Bandcamp's recommendation), with the ability to pay-more-if-you-want (I don't know the official term for that, and I don't care to look it up).
  • Took me basically the entire year to make.
  • Cost me a small fortune in music gear.

Starship Clicker (Videogame)

  • Released November 2017
  • Is a short, replayable arcade game.
  • Launched with a price of USD$1 (a few friends and I were all releasing $1 games on Steam to learn about the platform during that month). Its price was raised to $3 last year.
  • Took me roughly seven days to make, from scratch.
  • Cost me virtually nothing, minus my time, and maybe USD$100 for a Steam app release credit.

Show Me The Money

At the 30-day mark, Nerve Damage actually out-sold Starship Clicker. A music album made more money than a videogame, and sold to far, far fewer users. In terms of revenue, it is reasonably close, but Nerve Damage outperformed Starship Clicker by roughly 25%, and sold to around 5% as many people. That's pretty surprising!

Now, what does this all mean? I dunno, I just thought it would be interesting to write it down for posterity.