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  • Writer's pictureRandy McGravey

Video Games and Music Licensing

Licensing music for video games is a bit different than TV and other sync avenues. Let's discuss what the differences are and how to potentially get your music into video games.

The biggest difference is that video games in America don't pay royalties through PROs! That's not to say that you can't get some decent fees upfront. There is also a small possibility that the music could be in a commercial for the game, or soundtrack, etc. A lot of times companies will hire a composer or composers to create the music for their game. For lower budget games and mobile games, they might get music from libraries.

Even though you might think of video game music as being 8-bit style similar to Mario or Zelda, video games can have a wide range of styles these days. Anything from rock to metal to electronic music to happy acoustic, etc. can be used for video games. Loops are very common in video games, so make sure you create some loop-able versions of your tracks.

There is one particular library that I know that specializes in video games, appropriately called VGame. VGame is a Canadian-based non-exclusive library specializing in video game music and placements. They are ala carte style (non-subscription) and are a fairly new library.

Be weary of putting your video-game-specific music on subscription sites because games can command a higher sync fee. You don't want the client shopping around and finding the same track for pennies when you could get upwards of $$$.

The biggest job you could land is to score an entire video game. This would have to be done through networking and likely wouldn't happen through libraries. For connections like this, it helps to find people on LinkedIn or similar sites.

There are sometimes job postings for video game composing as well. Check your favorite job search site and set up a notification for certain keywords like "video game" and "composer". I actually got a notification TODAY for a remote video game composing job. If you're applying for something like this, be sure to ask questions like:

"Who will own the rights to the music?"

"Can I use the music for other things (non-exclusively)?"

These questions will help you better understand how much money you should ask for. In any case, don't do it for free and expect anything from your PRO!

Special thanks to Matthew Lorne Smith from In Sync: Music Licensing Forum for suggesting this topic! If you have a topic you'd like me to discuss, leave it in the comments below.

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If you are an aspiring music licensing composer, learn all about this field and how to succeed in my new book: "Making Money with Music Licensing"


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