Reading Material: The Past, Present & Future of Music Licensing in Games

Reading Material: The Past, Present & Future of Music Licensing in Games

It’s taken me a while to first find the time to read this and then get back here to share it, but I think this post from Monday is worth a read. Licensing terms and contract details are almost always kept hidden from the public and it makes finding out the exact cause of a delisting quite a challenge. Along those same lines are content licenses, and in this case we’ve gotten a complicated but hopeful glimpse behind the curtain of music licensing in games.

The post includes stories and quotes from Lori Cromwell-Charron, senior associate for music licensing at Electronic Arts, Gavin Johnson, head of gaming at Monstercat, and Alex Tarrand from Styngr, an up-and-coming firm that aims to streamline music licensing between artists, labels, and game developers.

The piece is a bit of a rollercoaster ride with the introduction bluntly stating that “music licensing in games is essentially a web of negotiation, approval, and bureaucracy”. Author Rhys Elliott goes on to describe the relationship between the music and games industries as having seen many “honeymoon periods and growing pains”.

There are some depressingly complex details up front about how many parties it takes just to get a single song into a game, but I was surprised by the end to find a little more hope for the future of things. Companies like Styngr and Bandcamp are working to reduce the number of hurdles that a developer or publisher needs to clear while larger organizations better understand the need to include licensing work into budgets and timelines for a game’s milestones.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a minefield in a hurricane out there but even if you’re super skeptical about music licensing there’s still some insight to glean about how things work behind the scenes from this post.