Video Games as the New MTV

Kid playing video games while listening to music and eating food


A good ten years ago, it was still considered uncool and pandering to produce tracks for games. Today it is different. Stars compose songs for games and now there are even labels only for video game music.

If you had offered an up-and-coming indie band in the early 2000s to make the soundtrack for a video game, they probably would have found it pretty uncool. Meanwhile, musicians and fans have realized the value of the enormous popularity of video games like Minecraft (especially when playing on the best Minecraft servers).

Nowadays, stars like Trent Reznor or Flying Lotus are scrambling to make songs for video games. Because soundtracks of big games like Fifa or Grand Theft Auto are heard and hyped by millions of people. Meanwhile, there are even own labels only for video game music.

The market is getting bigger and bigger

The market for video game music is huge, says Steve Schnur, the CEO and president of Music for Electronic Arts. This is the largest video game producer in the world with titles such as “NFL”, the “Sims” or “Medal of Honor”.

The global market power of game producers has long since surpassed music channels such as MTV, says Schnur. Video games are on their way to becoming what MTV and commercial radio stations were in the 80s and 90s.

That doesn’t mean we have to say goodbye to Spotify tomorrow, says Deutschlandfunk Nova network reporter Martina Schulte. Nevertheless, the importance of music in games has clearly increased. Some of the hottest musicians in the world now compose for video games: Trent Reznor of the Nine Inch Nails, Paul McCartney, the film soundtrack titan Hans Zimmer, Health, Solar Fields, and many others.


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Games are part of the marketing plan

The musicians do this not only because they are paid for it, but because video games are now just as much a part of the marketing plan of artists and labels as the Spotify or radio strategy, says Martina.

The football game Fifa by Electronic Arts is very popular with labels and bands: Every song in the current Fifa 19 has the chance to be heard around a billion times around the globe. That’s what an artist at Spotify has to do first. In addition, it can also be heard automatically in a kind of “heavy rotation” in a video game.

In the game, a song runs in “Heavy Rotation”

With his anthem “Drama”, the German producer Noah McBeth, better known under his stage name NoMbe, is now taking part for the second time after 2018. His Fifa soundtracks have definitely given him more fans. Things are going so well for him that he has moved from Berlin to L.A., reports Martina Schulte.

Music in video games is a way for many to discover new music and new artists for themselves. And for the not-yet-so-well-known artists a way to become better known. This works particularly well because gamers may build a strong emotional bond with the song they hear every day while gambling.

How strong this is can be seen, for example, in the fact that none other than the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra has just played soundtracks from games such as “Resident Evil” or “The Last of us” at the Royal Albert Hall in London.