There’s a circle. In the middle of it there’s an artist. On one side of the circumference there are fans and on the other, labels. The artist transfers their music toward the outside and, in return, the circumference transfers their support to the middle of the circle. That’s how the circle rolls with centrifugal force. If a centre of gravity moves from an artist to anywhere else, an imbalance appears. And an imbalanced wheel can’t go too far. However, the circle looks different for independent artists, who can mostly rely on themselves, fans and popularity of the projects they take part in.

For the game industry, the lockdown’s reality was more natural than for others.

For indie musicians being flexible is a matter of survival. Most of those who compose scores do it for different projects like films, games, advertisements. They try to seize the opportunity. Thus they have different financial sources. For the game industry, the lockdown’s reality was more natural than for others. While film or music industries were suffering from cancelled cinema premieres, concerts and events, the game industry welcomed everyone online. Only within the first wave of lockdown the time spent on gaming grew by 39% globally (source: Statista).

However, the other media were only partly in trouble – they were, indeed, when it came to events and production, but the digital face of the entertainment industry was at home. I mean streaming. As The Entertainment Retailers Association said, stay-at-home Brits kept video games ahead of the others (48% of the market), followed by films on Netflix or Amazon Prime (35%) and music dominated by Spotify (17%). But it’s about the industry, not the artists. How much of the industries’ income goes straight to artists? It’s a completely different story and we wrote about it some time ago. In short: virtually nothing.

Nothing can replace promoting someone’s music by touring with it, but during lockdown everything goes online or dies. Live shows have turned into live streams with an option to donate the artist by fans on social media. Support, however, is a very capacious thing. I’ve just mentioned Spotify, here’s where it comes in handy. Many playlists on Spotify or YouTube reach millions of listeners. If you run your own playlist, it’s the best place to include some of the independent artists you like. You’re a radio station, you promote people. Since independent musicians have to take care of their finances just on their own, it’s quite common for them to have an account on Patreon or run any other crowdfunding campaign. That’s how money goes directly to the artists and they can focus on what they do best being supported by fans who wait for the artists’ new art. Everyone’s happy.

Why do game music composers don’t get all of their royalties?

Following and engaging with the artist’s social media profile is also a good way. The step is small, but might not be alone. It’s very likely that the support’s effect won’t be instant, but with all hands on board fans can make a huge difference between just a musician and a musician drawing the attention of sponsors and other creators. Game scores have been more and more audible among game studios recently. It’s somehow visible in marketing (3D Sound in PlayStation5 promoted by Sony) and game platforms’ approach (soundtracks available on Steam). So very often it’s up to game studios to make a space for music to sound aloud.

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Maciej Baska

In the games he happens to stand around at a random location only because there is a great music. For over a decade he's composed, written, recorded and mixed.