The Growth of the Video Game Industry and Its Impact on Aspiring Musicians

video game

With a market value of over $120 billion, the video game industry is an undeniable titan of the wider entertainment sector.

Indeed both the movie and music industries have been collectively eclipsed by gaming revenues in recent years, with this gulf only widening as consumers change the way they spend their cash and their spare time.

Of course, video games do not exist in a vacuum and there is plenty of crossover with the other creative industries. So how might an aspiring musician hope to leverage the popularity of gaming to their advantage, and are there any pitfalls to look out for today?

Licensing & fan base building

Video game music is a subgenre in its own right, but game soundtracks are not solely populated by original compositions designed solely for a specific title; there are many major licensing tie-ins that can benefit established acts as well as newcomers.

While rock gods like of Trent Reznor have been lending their talents to gaming audio composition for decades, both through unique creations and by licensing tracks for pinball machines and even slots games found on Casumo, up and coming artists can piggyback on well-loved franchise to get access to large, engaged audiences all over the world.

Sports games tend to be one of the best showcases for music, although narrative-oriented titles can also find a place for the clever use of individual tracks that is all the more compelling because of its impact on the story.

Take the soundtrack to indie darling Gone Home, a game which features the player exploring a house and uncovering the tale of a woman and her family. As well as having its own score, the game also featured songs from real bands. In suitably left-field style, the soundtrack was even released on cassette tape.

This is just one example of the variability of the approach that is available to musicians who are thinking about licensing their work to a video game developer; you do not need to wangle your way onto the latest FIFA or DiRT Rally release to become relevant in this space.

Infringement & potential concerns

Of course, the rise of gaming is not without its issues, especially for artists working in other areas. This is not just about active attempts to copy or at least infringe on existing creations which might only be spotted further down the line; there are imperfect approaches to licensing of music in general from a video game industry perspective that still need to be addressed.

Part of the challenge comes down to the complexity of games distribution, factoring in myriad platforms, services, global regions and other obstacles. Then there is the fact that the IP of musicians is divided between the recorded track and the song itself, accompanied by all the hurdles of current copyright law.

Changes and improvements are being made, especially now that there are such huge budgets available for modern games and a greater awareness of how the work of musicians can be licensed and used. Even so, it is right for aspiring artists to tread carefully and look for expert advice in order to avoid being stung.

Future potential

One thing that is certain about the aspiring musicians of the modern era and indeed the foreseeable future is that they will have grown up around video games, giving them a far better understanding not just of the way that music can enhance them as works of art, but also how the industry operates in its own right.

This state of affairs should set solo acts and bands on the right path to make the most out of the still-rising stature of video games as creative endeavours and business opportunities alike.

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