What Musicians Need to Know Before Working with Gaming Companies
an editorial by Faye Collins
If you thought that gaming developers prefer to only work with the biggest names in music, you couldn’t be more wrong. Tunes from Pitbull might have given Bally Technologies a popularity boost as they released his very own slot title but for musicians like Beck who have three songs (“Touch the People,” “Cities,” and “Spiral Staircase”) featured on the PlayStation game Sound Shapes, games are a new platform for music discovery. It’s because of indie artists’ eagerness for exposure that have these developers chasing after lesser known talents, and partnerships like these provide amazing benefits for both the musician and the video game developer.
Music has undisputedly played a vital role in video game creation, and has been the key for gaming companies to maintain their position in a very lucrative market. An example of one gaming corporation is Betfair Group Plc., a company that has developed products with distinctive themes that wouldn’t have been possible without the help of music. Their titles, such as Pyramid of Ramesses and Cat Queen, thrive on the atmosphere created by the background music, as studies reveal that it triggers arousal on game accomplishments according to the Daily Mail and also alleviates the burden from losses. Right now, companies are searching for independent composers to enhance the overall gaming experience by writing the scores for their games. This presents a great opportunity to publicize the works of budding musicians.
Thinking about composing for a video game? Here are a couple things you’ll need to understand before making any commitments.
Something to keep in mind that not every independent artist will favor is that ownership of the music will be retained by the gaming company. Most of the time, developers will sign musicians up on a work-for-hire agreement, something that’s also common in the film industry, meaning anything that you produce will belong to the creative agency and that you won’t receive a percentage on sales. Producer of Halo 4’s soundtrack Neil Davidge explains that your songs can be reproduced on your album for royalties, but your pay will have no connection with the success of the game you wrote the soundtrack for, so don’t expect to get published.
Exclusive vs. Non-Exclusive Contracts
There are a lot of varying opinions when figuring out what kind of contract is best for an indie musician. One advantage that a non-exclusive contract is the artist’s ability to pursue deals with multiple companies, unlike in an exclusive contract where you’re committed to pitching your material to one firm. Non-exclusive contracts allow you to explore different routes and new opportunities to get your music out there. But contributor of Music Licensing 101 Aaron Davison says, “There are no one size fits all answers to this issue,” and musicians should focus more on building relationships with the right people, and from there you’ll figure out which kind of contract you’re more suited for.
It’s crucial that you do as much research as you can prior to any contract signing, and remember that the ideal music licensing projects will vary from artist to artist. Once you’ve outlined your goals, you’ll know what to look for in a deal.