How To

Music and Video Games – Beyond Fun and Games

Photograph of the blog post author, Mary Woodcock

Mary Woodcock


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Clearly, the Video game industry is a huge industry, with the market worth about $7.09bn last year, with it increasingly being seen as a way to market music and get into the wider public consciousness, rather than just to fans of music or of the specific band/artist themselves.

Some games are better than others when it comes down to this, for example, Assassins Creed/Call of Duty, two of the biggest games franchises of the past few years, do not really use any music, but when it comes to games such as FIFA or Grand Theft Auto, they are definitely seen as a place to get music out there and heard and popularized but in slightly different ways.

FIFA boast of a very eclectic soundtrack, where they place established acts such as Kasabian, Bloc Party and other such acts, alongside acts with not even a tenth of the following, Steven Schnur, the man who curates the soundtrack every year explains that his “first game was in 2003, featured acts such as Ms Dynamite, Idlewild and Avril Lavigne, who went onto become international superstars almost immediately, with their labels, publishers and artists themselves believing that their appearance in the soundtrack was key.”

Over the years they have introduced FIFA players to a massive audience, with 14.5 million units sold by May 2013 of the FIFA13 franchise. Clearly, if you are a smaller act with not as big of a following as the other well established acts, if you can get one song on this playlist, it can completely change your future career trajectory in an instant.

Grand Theft Auto, on the other hand, do it in a completely different way, they have created radio stations for when you are travelling in any of the vehicles within the game, which has exclusive content on each, Ricky Gervais has held his own talk show in an earlier incarnation, in the newest version released last month, Soulwax, Flying Lotus and Big Boi  have curated their own hour-long radio stations, whilst some artists such as Tyler the Creator have actually created new songs and music to be used on Radio Stations, they have also licensed some old classics such as Dr Dre etc.

Further to this both games have put their soundtracks up for sale on iTunes, where you can buy them all together for roughly half the price that you can buy them individually, or alternatively, GTA has created a playlist on Spotify with every song that has been used in the game, so if you can’t figure out who/what your listening to whilst you’re driving around then no fear, just look online and you’ll be able to listen to it on your own car (though hopefully not doing the same things that you’d be doing in GTA….)

Though these are not the only examples of games that use soundtracks from current artists, these are the games that have used the custom soundtracks to their advantages, if you look at the YouTube comments section of any song that’s been used on FIFA or GTA there will be more than a few comments saying “I WAS BROUGHT HERE FROM FIFA/GTA, HOW COOL!”

People seem to like the familiarity that listening to a song in a game brings them, and it also enters your subconscious, as you aren’t actually concentrating on the music, you’re concentrating on a drive by shooting (GTA) or changing your tactics (FIFA) this is a very powerful tool that labels have picked up on.

So if you’re an unsigned act with a small following, getting these games to take notice of your music and put you’re song onto the soundtrack would be a huge deal.

And this is where Music Gateway comes into your life! You can post your project on our system and suddenly, when it’s finished, who knows where it’ll end up, you could be sound tracking someone’s 30 year screamer against their arch rivals or helping the main characters pull of a major bank heist and suddenly become the gamers favourite song, who will no doubt play that moment to their friends, instant exposure!

Are there any other games that spring to mind when you think of wow that has a good soundtrack? Have you thought of this avenue to open yourself up to a wider audience? What’s your favourite song that you discovered on a game? (Mines this by the way)

As always tweet and share, and comment below!


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