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How Important is Gaming to the Music Industry?

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It’s pretty much accepted within the music industry community that gaming is one of the big opportunities that record labels are going to be getting more involved with over the next few years, but it seems that the four majors are worried that they’re going to have to settle for suboptimal deals for one reason..

There is a huge supply of music and (relatively) small demand, so even if major record labels refused to provide content at a cheap licensing fee, game developers can easily go elsewhere for equally great music.

This is worstened by the fact that the gaming industry is just so damn profitable and enticing for record labels to be involved in, which forces them to pitch in at lower than ideal licensing bids. On the contrary, game developer Activision (owned 54% by Vivendi – who also own Universal Music Group) have stated that they think things should be the other way around, where record labels pay the game developers to feature their songs – personally, I think this is counter productive for both parties as limiting funding to the music industry will only reduce the volume of quality artists developed by major labels and after all, the game industry is still increasing in value by $0.4 billion/ year, while the major labels are still reporting multi million losses…

So what is it that makes gaming so important to the music industry?

Gaming Creates Musicians

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According to a study by Youth Music, around 2.5 million of Britain’s 3 – 15 year olds have been inspired to learn real musical instruments by music themed video games such as Rockband and Guitar Hero. Now what is it that fuels the music industry – musicians, right? While we’re certainly in no desperate demand for more musicians, It can’t be a bad thing to encourage more and more kids into having the amazing ability to play an instrument.

“It gives people the chance to try out, even if they’re too scared to go on a real stage.” – Hayley Williams, Paramore

Gaming Breaks in New Musicians

Because of the popularity of the gaming industry, many artists are now creating artist branded iPhone gaming apps, PC software and online java applications to break themselves in. Dutch artist and game developer ‘Noisia’ has had great success in creating games that create new fans and encourage them to go away and purchase the music heard during gameplay. Universal Records have also recently created iPhone Apps to break in some of their newer signings with great success.

Gaming Promotes Musicians

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Having your music featured on TV or in an Advert is pretty neat, but you only really get a short one-time stab at grabbing people’s attention and in most cases even if you do it’s not always easy for listeners to find out who you are and what your song is called. Video games are a whole different ball game, as your music can be played again and again and in pretty much all instances on video games your song’s details will be clearly referenced. The numbers are also much more significant – Guitar Hero and Rockband combined have sold over 100,000,000 games.. not a bad promotional tool for musicians at all ;)

And for good measure, here is a quote from a dude named Tommy who has apparently written 275 games and agrees with us:

“Industry insiders are learning that video games are the radio and distribution channel of the 21st century” Tommy Tallarico – World Record Holding Game Developer

Cool ;)

About Marcus Taylor

In 2013, Marcus Taylor won the award for 'Young Visionary of the Year' at MIDEM. Marcus is passionate about marketing and the music industry, and has consulted to some of the biggest names in the music industry through his agency, Venture Harbour. Marcus founded this website in 2009, and has reached over half a million musicians ever since.


  • Lewis says:

    Some great points, just thought I’d point out that Noisia is a drum and bass trio, not a singer – it could be that digital music such as D&B, electro etc is more appealing to tech enthusiasts?

  • Thanks Lewis! I’ll get that changed..

    You might be right, although there are examples from many different genres but what was great about Noisia is that it was done themselves and not funded and managed by a third party (ie record label), so I think it is more an example of how an artist is combining musical talents with other talents to be that little bit extra innovative.

  • Jaïn says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with the chances, although investments for one band can be pretty high when working with triple A content or even custom webcontent. The chances lie in developing unique experiences for gamers perfectly fit for a single band. I think that also these kind of projects could open up minds of record labels and see that music and bands are really good IP for games, and not only skins of known concepts. Integrating ingame music purchase is just the first step.

    Furthermore, I would like to share that Noisia is indeed a drum and bass band and not a gamedeveloper :) They worked together with a dutch game company on their project.

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