Technical/Pedantic point; a composer for video games isn't likely to earn a salary, but instead be on a work-for-hire/contracted basis; you'll be paid by the job.
From what I understand it's a "how long is a piece of string" type of question. The top (and I do mean top
) guys can get between $1000 and $2500 per minute
of music they do and when you think that some games need well over an hours worth of music that can add up to a lot. On the other hand if you're working on some indy team with a very tight budget? You're going to get a lot less... maybe $60 if your lucky. And that's composing a specific piece that you're also selling the rights to; if you're selling non-exclusive then obvious the amount goes down. You also have to factor in competition and an element of race to the bottom; until you've got some credit to your name (either from previous games or at least building up a good reputation in general) then you're competing with an awful lot of other inexperienced composers many of whom will constantly try to undercut their competition to get gigs.
It's certainly possible to make a living even without ever getting "big"... but especially to begin with it's going to be hard graft.
Another option to look into is AudioJungle
. It's a royalty free music site favored by a lot of people who make games, custom videos etc etc and can be a pretty good place to make some money; for example the top seller on there
has 9,154 sales at $19.99 (that's over $180k) in the five years it's been released. Now, obviously, $30k a year isn't going to make you a millionaire and that's the
top seller but if you're regularly putting out new songs, each of which then passively provides you with an income it can be a nice base to work from and as well as make some money build your reputation.