A year ago, at the start of 2019, something monumental happened in the music industry. Marshmallow, musical genius of social media fame, teamed up with the developers of the video game Fortnite, to deliver two live, in-game sets, to fans around the world. While similar collaborations had happened in the past, never before had the world seen the pairing of a music artist and a video game on such a grand scale. An estimated ten million logged in to watch Marshmallow perform.
The entire episode worked out exceptionally well for Marshmallow’s musical career. Rolling Stone magazine reported that the artist’s Instagram followers rose by one million following the show and that he gained an astonishing 100 million extra YouTube views.
The reason for this success was undoubtedly related to the unique circumstances of the time. A year ago, Fortnite was one of the most popular games in the world, with millions of people addicted to its battle royale mode logging on every day. However, it is hard to imagine that video games and virtual reality won’t continue to be a vehicle for sharing new music. Compared to the likes of SoundCloud or social media, they’re still a relatively untapped resource.
Many budding artists want to know how they can achieve a similar feat to Marshmallow and perform in front of tens of millions of fans online.
One man who should be able to provide the answers is Blizzard’s director of music affairs, Brandon Young.
Young began the current phase of his career around ten years ago. The video game industry veteran has had a hand in some of the biggest titles of the last decade, such as World of Warcraft, Guitar Hero and Call of Duty. Thus, if there’s anyone who knows about music and video games, it’s Young.
While some games, like Guitar Hero, make heavy use of licensed content, Young says that he (and the rest of Activision Blizzard) often prefer to hire composers to create bespoke music for their titles. With a composer, he says, he’s able to create something that is uniquely suited for the atmosphere the developers want to create. You don’t have to rely on sampling other people’s music. You can create something original from scratch, he says.
Send Reviewers Links To Your Music On SoundCloud And Other Platforms
Young’s advice for people who want their music featured in video games is as follows. First, don’t just send people in the industry like him large 20MB files that jam their email inboxes. He says that it is will discredit you. Much better, in his view, is sending a link to your SoundCloud account, allowing the reviewer to listen to your music via the internet.
Write In Good English
He also says that if you send an email, you must write in fluent English. If it is unclear or poorly written, then people probably won’t bother to open the attachment. If your writing is anything to go by, listening to your music probably isn’t worth their time.
If you do manage to make an impression, though, Young says that you’re likely to receive a follow-up asking for additional clarifications. Reviewers, for instance, will want you to provide proof that you have created the music yourself – not copied from another artist. They will then tell you if they think your music is suitable for a current project. If it is good, but they don’t have a use for it right away, they may ask for permission to put it in reserve. Either way, it’s a foot in the door.
Put Your Music In Context
If you really want to sell your tracks to video game companies, Young also recommends that you put your music in context so that reviewers can see how well it works in-game. The best way is to create a private YouTube video with your chosen title and track and send it to the agent. Just pop the link in the email with a short paragraph explaining why you chose that particular video sequence.
If you are successful, the rewards are substantial. Young says that the industry pays between $500 and several thousand dollars per minute of the accepted track. Most games require somewhere between 60 and 90 minutes, making them extremely lucrative for artists.
The collaboration between Fortnite and Marshmallow reveals a meaningful change of direction in music promotion. Those with a track record on YouTube and other social media sites can use relationships with video game developers to promote their music and make money at the same time. While you’ll need a substantial following to appear on a game with a profile like Fortnite, nothing is stopping you from approaching indie developers and offering soundtrack assistance.