Cha-ching, bling, bling, bling… BLAM… BLAM… BLAM, dee-da-deet-deeee-dee-dee-da-deet-deeee-dee…
The sound of a reel clunking into place to trigger a feature. Reels spinning and clattering, jingling on their own, racking you up hundreds of credits. The background music of a jungle-themed game. And the loud craziness of a machine going-absolutely-bananas so as to embarrass you and attract a crowd when a jackpot is hit.
The sounds of a slot machine doing its thing are unmistakable.
Now, I know it’s not usually the genre of music that we cover here, but slot machine music and sounds are still designed, finessed, and produced – like any other music track would be.
Whether it’s on the casino floor, or you just have the sound up on your phone or laptop while playing slots online, the soundscapes of slots are unique. You can get a feel trying these no deposit and completely online slot games to see what I’m talking about if you’ve forgotten the exact style I’m talking about, or you’re not up to speed with modern-day slots symphonies.
While the music and sounds are all very “machine-like” to the ear, there’s a person behind the scenes making all that happen, very carefully placing each note.
Generally, each slots house has their very own writer/s and/or producer/s that will whip up the sounds and tunes for each new game. Each of these tunes and sounds may be all-new, or certain tunes and/or sounds may be recycled from other titles within the company.
And hey, it could be a new job if you’re already in the music biz – or trying to be. If you’re sick of slogging it out trying to get your tracks heard as a producer and want a day job that may even pay fat stacks, then slot machine music and sound production could be an excellent career move.
Wouldn’t making those sounds all day drive you crazy?
Think that developing sound for slots would be repetitive and boring? Well, it might be, depending on your level of imagination, and what sort of music you like to produce – and the type of work environment that you enjoy. And hey, if you’re a big fan of the circus then you would probably be right at home fine tuning sounds for use on the slots.
Jonathon Roberts wrote a piece back in ‘14 on his blog that detailed how his career progressed into a full time role at a slots house. His take on what he does for a crust? “This is a great job. I get to write in a wide range of styles, record live musicians in a professional in-house recording studio, work with the latest audio software and sample instrument libraries, and learn along with a team of accomplished and innovative composers, designers, and audio engineers.”
Sounds pretty interesting, don’t you think?
Building out the music
The first thing that is important to do when designing for a slot machine is to check the theme. A slot will come with a particular theme, let’s say ‘Jungle Princess’, plus graphics and the type of feature the game will have.
This will direct the flow of what the music designer should do for the game. They’ll check out all the info they have been given about the game, view all the graphics, and revisit what the type of feature will do.
Plus, if you have a specific licensed theme, like a Queen-themed slot, or James Bond, you might just be able to use some of the very familiar tunes of these bands and franchises.
And how about some science thrown in for good measure?
There have been studies conducted about the effect of sound on gamblers playing the slots. For instance, The Impact of Sound in Modern Multiline Video Slot Machine Play (2013) found that “sounds… caused players to significantly overestimate the number of times they won (vs. non-audio slot playing)”
Another study, Losses disguised as wins in multiline slots: using an educational animation to reduce erroneous win overestimates (2017) indicates that novice players overestimated the times they remembered winning over a play session when losses disguised as wins (LDWs) were part of the game. LDWs include flashing lights and interesting sounds on a loss. It’s a tricky little nuance of the game industry that can trip up players if they aren’t paying attention, and are simply pressing that spin button over and over.
A journey in sound
If you’re after a Fear and Loathing style take on the music of the slots, you’d be hard-pressed to go past the musings of Adrian Rew, in his rambling, poetic and in depth account of his fascination and encounters with the music of the slots. This man literally put out Slot Machine Music Vol 1 and Vol 2 on a record label. It’s some interesting stuff!
The article is a whirlwind of descriptiveness of casino floors, the varying types of games, a smattering of history, and references to some of the more famous “slot game noise” scenes in movies.
Slot machine music and sounds may not be as glamorous as the latest release by an up and coming indie artist, but they’re a part of the music industry, nonetheless. Like creating jingles for companies, it’s how plenty of musos make a crust while pursuing their passion projects that aren’t exactly raking in the funds. If you think you might be interested in pursuing slot machine sound design and creation, then why not check out the major players in the industry and see what roles they have on offer. You never know what you might find or where it might take you…