CANNES, France : Live music and Internet-based social networking sites YouTube and MySpace are helping break new music acts—but video games are the latest new cool music space.
Video game music is cutting-edge and “the video game music world today feels exciting,” legendary US music figure Nile Rodgers, who is behind a string of smash hit video games, told a Music For Images conference at the MIDEM music mart here.
“It’s a great way of breaking new artists,” Joseph Stopps of independent UK-based dance music company, MofoHifi, told AFP.
One of MofoHifi’s artists, electronic dance group Young Punks, won a heap of new fans when a band track was picked for EA Sports’ FIFA Soccer X-box game.
Video games, like radio, have the big advantage being repetitious, Rodgers told a packed conference hall of music, film and digital professionals attending this week’s annual MIDEM global trade fair for the music industry.
“It’s difficult to be introduced to new music without radio as it’s the repetition that sells and what’s more repetitious than a video game,” Rodgers emphasized.
A 1970s star with disco/funk band Chic, Rodgers went on to produce hit albums for stars including Debbie Harry and David Bowie before being drawn into the video game world when he set up Something Else Music Works (SEMW).
He teamed up with Microsoft in 2002 and went on to turn out soundtracks for a string of smash hit video games that include Halo:Combat Evolved, Age of Mythology, Brute Force and Outlaw Volleyball.
The music for images business is thriving across the film, television and gaming worlds, attracting increasing attention from the music world, which is suffering to survive in a world of declining CD sales.
Expectations are also high that as the games industry moves forward, people will be able to buy tracks online on their gaming consoles.
For some of the executives in the music business, games, which tend to be popular with music fans, have the potential to become the new radio in introducing new music to enthusiasts.
“You could argue that they (games) have replaced that function of radio to some degree,” Sony Computer Entertainment Europe’s music licensing and A&R manager Sergio Pimental told MIDEM. But the real difference, he said, was that with radio “you can multi-task while listening to it, whereas playing a game demands to be active to become involved.”
Rodgers encouraged budding game composers to try and get into movies as well. Hip-hop act Organized a Noize is one example of video-game composers who produced the score for Hollywood hit movie “Miami Vice”.
But video game music, Rodgers acknowledged, is not yet being taken seriously because it is associated with leisure.
“It’s a perception problem,” he said. “Film is considered an art form but because people play video games, they don’t realise that the different components are artistic.”
Yet composing for games is one of the most creative mediums around at the moment, Alistair Lindsay, music manager at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe told MIDEM.
“You’re creating music that is a huge jigsaw puzzle and its quite a magical experience,” Lindsay enthused. “Getting music to kick in at the right time is a real challenge.”
Big music hits that have come out of video games include the Motown-released B-Boy—The Soundtrack, a break-dancing game for PS2 and PSP.
Activision, the USA’s second largest games publisher, is running a listening session at the French Riviera trade fair for the third year running that it said has produced some amazing music in the past. Last year’s winner made it into Tony Hawk’s Project 8 and is also being used in the TV spot for the game.