When the cusp of millenium brung live instruments to video game music, it seemed to be a revolution. And it was. Even though people still focused mostly on graphics, the music started to be more noticeable than ever before. But once a thing becomes a standard, it loses its uniqueness. Today, many musicians feel underrated when it comes to streaming services fees, and many game music composers have a tough nut to crack while trying to be an important part of a development team.
Today, many musicians feel underrated when it comes to streaming services fees.
If you’ve ever struggled to find an author for a track you’d like, you’re on the same page, but for composers, crediting them in a good manner means much more – more appreciation and more money. However, just a few companies in the industry really take care of it, while there are plenty of stories about a huge mess in collecting authors’ data and attaching them to relevant songs.
While game soundtracks are not always officially released as stand-alone albums, people wanting to listen to the music they love are forced to use alternative sources. YouTube is a go-to in most cases. If the soundtrack isn’t available on Spotify, it’s very likely to be found on the video platform. But that’s where the metadata mess comes in. YouTube algorithmes recognize the music track that is uploaded to the system and match it with registered songs, but since game developers don’t often do a good job with music credits, the YouTube system doesn’t match both tracks. Hence millions of people can listen to the game soundtrack, not even knowing who the author is, sometimes. And both, the composer and the developer lose a lot of that, just because of the video game company’s negligence or ignorance.
Wrong metadata can cause problems even with distribution on streaming services. If songs are credited incorrectly, royalties are not provided to the right people. Sometimes there are also sound teams displayed rather than real composers, and the latter are hidden in a track’s details.
This situation leads to a need of founding companies specialised in supporting game music composers and developers in managing their soundtracks well. Danny Keller (CEO of Laced Music, a game music soundtracks distributor), told VGC Magazine, that his company, in collaboration with Kobalt, helps game companies gather royalties directly from streaming music services. He also highlighted the importance of keeping metadata right, since that’s what makes a song fully credited.
Most of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s works were made on commision.
As for now, European division of Sony is the only game company that has a licencing agreement with Performing Right Society (an organization that ensures composers that they are properly rewarded for their work). Both companies have worked together since 2014. That way, Sony and composers enjoy their royalties from games downloaded via PlayStation Store in Europe.
During the classical music era, there were just two people needed to make a show, like opera – a screenwriter and a composer. Most of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s works were made on commision, but that was a composer who was the main person credited. That’s why we remember Mozart today. Not looking so far away, people can always find a film soundtrack author easily. If they could find game music composers that easily, it would be profitable for both, composers and companies.