Ed Brew is CEO of LabelRadar, an innovative and groundbreaking music platform which allows games studios to access its immensely talented artist portfolio and source soundtracks using its cutting-edge tools – all free of charge.
There’s a bond formed when you find a track you love on a video game soundtrack. It feels like you have discovered the track, making you an instant champion for it.
Part of that can be attributed to the mindset of a consumer when playing a game compared to other music discovery moments. When you listen to a song via a YouTube music promotion channel, it will inevitably face more scrutiny from you – meaning that the track has to work ‘harder’ to impress them.
Contrast that with your mindset when playing a game where the music enhances an emotion present in the gameplay. A good soundtrack creates a valuable experience, giving you a stronger bond with both the song itself and the game.
In fact, science confirms just how important finding the right soundtrack for a game can be, with studies linking it to the creation of much deeper emotional bonds for the gamer. Some of my favourite artists, songs and bands were ones I discovered through video games – and I could tell you exactly which game I discovered them through too.
Studios and game developers of course recognise and appreciate the importance of encompassing top quality music within their games. But there is something of a misunderstanding that licensing music comes with incredibly hefty price tags. We are in a golden age for music creation. There are now more artists than ever before and, most importantly, an abundance of top quality music being created.
The misunderstanding is that to have top quality music, developers need to be approaching the labels and publishers representing the top artists. Whilst that might get you some marquee names for your soundtrack, the budget will evaporate very quickly indeed.
“Our focus is to create win:win opportunities by connecting our community of talent with studios and developers who can benefit immensely from a bespoke soundtrack”
Instead, by looking to the horde of talent rising through the ranks, it’s possible to find equally epic music – without the AAA price tag. You’re also more likely to benefit from artist ambassadors for the release who will be thrilled to have their music placed in a game and will help hype the release – something often unavailable when working with big name artists.
It’s important to acknowledge that this tier below the big names carry a clout all of their own, with many sporting large followings on social media in their own right. One of the reasons I started LabelRadar was to help connect those dots and provide a destination for developers to discover new artist talent easily.
It’s not all about licensed soundtracks though – there’s a certain immeasurable magic to a soundtrack uniquely composed to fit the setting of a game. From title menu themes to atmosphere-enhancing soundscapes, the music plays a vital role in providing a memorable and immersive experience. Nothing hits me quite as hard as hearing old 8-bit themes from the Game Boy days – and there are few stronger tools when it comes to activating consumers than nostalgia.
Yet often these incredible soundtracks are underutilised. There are so many evangelised franchises in gaming and many legacy titles whose music could be an immense weapon in their marketing strategy for their latest release. But they rarely include music activations in their release plans, meaning they miss out on a large chunk of that nostalgia power. This is something we are looking to change, and we have several upcoming projects of this nature on the platform.
Here at LabelRadar, we’re seeing the 50,000+ artists on our roster view video games as an important distribution route for their music. For a lot of them, both well-established and up and coming artists, the ability to have their music immortalised within the soundtrack of a video game is one of their most prized goals for their career. Our focus is to create win:win opportunities by connecting our community of talent with studios and developers who can benefit immensely from a bespoke soundtrack.
As far as the music business is concerned, video games are vital to its own success, introducing consumers to new styles of music – whether that’s electronic dance, hard rock or even orchestral – we’re a great duet.