Gaming has been powered by music since back in the days of Pac Man gobbling up the pellets – to be met by ghosts whose presence would dramatically change the music creating a sense of panic to the gamer. Fast-forward almost 40 years and the relationship between music and gaming has dramatically changed in ways that were probably once upon a time just a sci-fi fantasy. From Grand Theft Auto’s famous radio playlist to real-life superstar DJs turning into avatars, hosting in game concerts for worldwide players to participate, the world of gaming couldn’t be any further from the simple bleeps and bloops of Space Invaders back in 1978.
In this week’s case study we take a look at top EDM star Marshmello on the ingenious ways he’s incorporated at promoted his music in the multi billion dollar gaming industry and how you can take some tips to step into the world of sharing your music amongst the button bashing masses.
A New Way of Music Promotion
One of the pioneers of new ways of utilising the gaming industry to promote and use music is multi-platinum selling artist Marshmello. A very original idea of his was to release a mobile game which gave an exclusive preview of his brand new album Joytime III for 24 hours before it went out to the public. A fantastic move to push fans both new and old to hit the download button on the game, all the while drumming up fantastic interest in the album, drawing in attention that a normal release couldn’t achieve alone. Now unless you’ve got enough coin in the bank to get an app developer or you’re a coding genius this isn’t attainable for most of us. But that’s not to say there aren’t other game developers using music in inventive ways that you can get involved with. Doing some research into what’s being made, how it’s intended to be used and how you can slot your music in to it is well worth the homework – the world is changing and it’s time to get involved.
While the Marshmello game was an innovative move in this fast evolving industry, the still relatively new concept of using music in the background of games to conjure an emotion during gameplay isn’t going anywhere. As a musician of any level, this is still a goldmine for getting music heard by the masses providing invaluable exposure worldwide. The best-selling game Grand Theft Auto sparked the change where gaming began to outperform blockbuster movies in revenue. It was GTA V which had 18 radio stations with 240 licensed tracks from an impressive list of famous musicians, as well as turning underground DJs into characters. Using the success of Rockstar Games’ format, almost every game in existence utilises music within gameplay in some way or another. With a huge amount of games always in development, it’s a great idea to get in touch with developers on KickStarter and the like to introduce your music and pitch it to get included in the game.
Marshmello also achieved another milestone moment in gaming and music when he hosted a virtual concert in smash hit game Fortnite. Users worldwide were stripped of their digital ammo and invited to attend the show within the game, where over 10,000,000 players logged in and showed up. That’s more people than have ever been to his real life shows combined. This opened up his audience and fan base to eye watering levels and lead to a special Marshmello game skin going on sale along with physical merchandise. The growth and visibility gained from this was monumental. And with a further 31,000,000+ views of the concert on YouTube, the ripple effect from the virtual show is incredible. Again, this isn’t exactly the easiest thing to get involved with from your bedroom studio! But keeping your finger on the pulse of how this technology is moving is a smart move. DJ sets in virtual worlds are under further development and getting your music played in this kind of environment will reach far and wide. Even real life DJ sets now have the capability of live streaming which tracks are being played at that very moment with Pioneer’s Kuvo platform.
While this level of partnership and expertise is well beyond most musician’s reach it is a fantastic insight into how rapidly the digital world is evolving. What more is to come now? Much, much more. As revenue streams for musicians needs to become more diverse now that the traditional method of selling music is falling and streaming is growing, everyone needs to be one step ahead as we step in to this new decade.
Gaming Influencer Partnerships
Partnering with a gaming influencer is a good start. Marshmello again hasn’t missed this trick since he got together with ‘Ninja’ who has a huge following. Ninja was also responsible for Drake and Travis Scott’s Twitch live stream battling it out on Fortnite. Giving fans a view into a more personal, not usually seen side of music stars doing what any normal person is doing… Bashing the buttons of their controller. Any level of musician can get in touch with gaming streamers to collaborate on getting tracks played out while live streaming. Link to your Spotify in the comments and there’s bound to be some conversion to clicks and further listening to your bank of music.
Something you can do in the here and now is simply setting up your own Twitch channel, if gaming is your bag that is. Creating a following while doing something that you already like doing and promoting your music through it as a double bonus is a no brainer. Collaborating with other streamers and getting your music out on their channels will be a more mutually beneficial technique that can cross over to untapped audiences.
Visibility is visibility and the world of gaming is no longer restricted to the ‘nerdy’ type that’s closed off to the world in their Mom’s basement. Everybody’s at it. And music has become just as important as the quality of graphics in the exciting world of gaming.