How To Get Your Music Into Video Games

SDC11999 The National Association of Recording Industry Professionals (NARIP) held a professional’s panel in downtown San Francisco last Wednesday where top minds in the video game industry discussed ways that independent musicians could increase their chances of getting their music placed into video games.

The worldwide video game industry is poised to exceed $70 billion by 2015, thanks to the combined growth of console, portable, PC, and online video games, according to market researcher DFC Intelligence. As the industry grows, the opportunity for musicians to have their music licensed becomes increasingly more competitive.

Follow these tips to increase your chances of landing a placement:

Do Your Homework

Sony Computer Entertainment of America (SCEA) Music Director Chuck Doud recommends learning everything you can about the video game industry before knocking on the doors of supervisors.

“Find out what they need and what they’re looking for,” Doud said. “Seek out the developers who are doing the types of games that would be a good fit for your music. Think of the developers first, and don’t take the ‘hire me’ approach – you won’t get anywhere.”

SCEA Music Supervisor Matt Levine concurs: “Once we have a sense for how the game will shape out artistically, we’ll then set a list of potential candidates. We all talk to each other and we’ll ask around. We don’t hold any favoritism towards the indies nor the majors. The bottom line is this: if you’re good, and you have the sound we’re looking for, your chances of a placement increase.”

Note: Gamasutra.com and GameIndustry.biz are excellent resources for staying up to date on the business end of video games! 

Start Small

Former Director of Music Relations for Electronic Arts/EA Sports, and current CEO of Eckhardt Consulting Randy Eckhardt:

“Don’t bother trying to meet with top-level people right away,” he suggests. “Seek out smaller developers first, as it certainly helps to show that you’ve had placement before. The current expansion into online social games that are using not as rich and deep content has expanded opportunities to score smaller games.”

2011 is predicted to be the year when mobile social games see a significant increase. Interestingly enough, the 2nd most highly valued company in the video game industry today is not just social, but also only four years old (Zynga – makers of FarmVille). 

“The emergence of casual games is huge,” added Chuck Doud. “There are more developers popping up and therefore many more contacts for independents to approach.”

Make Their Job Easier

Music supervisors and licensors are flooded with hundreds of submissions on a daily basis, and there are only so many hours in a day. To increase your chances of being heard, make it easy for them to access and listen to your music.

“I’d much rather stream tracks," said Matt Levine. "I’d rather not download anything. I’m also more likely to listen to your music if your website is clean and very clear.”

“Don’t be sending out demos,” Chuck Doud suggests. “Send us your highest quality work that's ready to be licensed. Also, make sure you distinguish who owns what before submitting a track. All paperwork should be in place and your tracks should be ready to be licensed tomorrow if they had to be.”

Remember to Be of Service

The role of your music is to enhance the gamer's experience while they interact with the art on screen; it’s not supposed to take center stage. The more your intention lay in assisting the overall artistic vision of the project, and not so much on just landing a placement, the more likely music supervisors will want to work with you.

Getting your music in video games should be just one part of your strategy as a musician. While it can certainly lead to generous returns for larger-scale projects, it should ultimately be part of the marketing plan and not the primary desired source of income. With that, the more front-end research you do, the more rapport you build up, and the easier you make it on the people behind the scenes, the more likely you’ll earn a placement.

For more information on the National Association of Recording Industry Professionals, head to NARIP.com

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  1. I came into doing work with JamParty almost by accident, but if you asked me for any advice to songwriters/musicians/publishers looking for placements in video games, I’d tell you the following:
    1) Have all of your publishing details ready to roll, the process for placements moves fast and we’d rather work with artists that can close their deals quickly than artists who drag their feet on details.
    2) Be open to all kinds of editing, mashing-up, and various changes. If you want a placement, then take the opportunity as it comes.
    3) My opinion – the future of gaming is all about what I call “zero translation”: games or apps that are easy to pick up and play and are monetized on a micro-transaction basis. If I didn’t have my current opportunity I’d be searching out firms that already have their developers credentials in place, and are writing apps or small social games.

  2. Thanks for posting this review of our most recent NARIP SF Chapter event Music in Games, Hasham!
    Your closing statement about having a marketing plan is really important for everyone to remember. In today’s music scene, identifying what segment(s) of the industry you might have the most success at. Who the players in those markets, how the revenue streams work AND who your competition is, will help artists and music creators determine what revenue streams are most viable for them.
    For those who need a little direction, finding a business strategist can help you decide where to best spend your time and energy!
    Warm Regards,
    =Tamra Engle=
    Executive Director
    NARIP SF Chapter
    Business Strategist- “Providing business solutions for creative minds”

  3. That is useful information, It’s good for me in a sence, dont think about yourself n think about the developers.
    Check my music out here:
    (sorry for my crappy voice)

  4. Informative article – thanks for this one Hypebot!
    Really been enjoying your posts as of late.
    I’ll also take the high road here & not spam the comment section with a link to my music.

  5. Excellent article Hisham, I’ve thanked you privately and want to post here as well. Appreciate your support very much, it was a fun topic! More to come.
    And for those who may have an interest, audio of this program is available now here: http://bit.ly/Music-In-Games-SF
    Be well, take care.

    Tess Taylor, President
    National Association of Record Industry Professionals
    (818) 769-7007 ~ http://www.narip.com ~ tess@narip.com
    facebook.com/naripFB ~ twitter.com/NARIP

  6. This is very useful information! Ive been researching, and trawling through page after page for advice. Im not looking to make millions and be famous, I just want to make music for games. Essentially taking my two biggest passions and making a living from it. Below is a link to my Soundcloud page for anyone to listen, download, comment and follow, should you wish to. I have experience with Logic 9 and 10 and mix all of my own tracks. If you know of any developers looking for a passionate person to make some great music, my email is also below to pass on.
    thanks again.

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