I’m one of those programmers, just giving a different point of view. My company is small to medium sized, with a couple of designers and usually one or two programmers working on the integration. We also use the same fmod project for both music and SFX, so both the sound designer and musician have to share the same fmod pro file.
For the time being, we keep the fmod assets in the same repo as the project, and it’s worked well for us in fully orchestrated games. Most changes in fmod are changes to the project, and the ocassional audio drop. That’s not a huge issue for versioning tools.
There are 2 separate things in your post:
First, the normal way we work is, yes, have a music_main branch, which receives merges from main, and is merged into main. We have a sfx_main as well. Both the musician and sound designer merge main into their own branches. Then, someone from the integration team merges their branches into main.
There’s no real reason to have the musician hop between feature branches, since music is its own feature, and it can be merged from main into any other branch. The important idea is that main always maintains the most recent and working version of everything. Feature branches are, per definition, unstable and not a workable backup of anything.
Second, you imply that there’s a different fspro file in each branch, which is not really the case. Each branch has the version it had when last merged from main. If merges from main are common, as they should, everything should be pretty much the same between all current feature branches.
I hope that helps finding a workable middle ground for your team!
P.S.: A small correction to the comparison to artists not keeping Maya files in the repo. The equivalent to that would be the protools/whatever project.
The fmod project and assets are closer to the fbx/png files created for a model. Having it accessible to the team is important, because sometimes tweaks or small fixes require changes in the audio or music.
The banks are closer to the final compiled binary version of in-game assets.