Video games, a world full of music to discover – Le Devoir

The biggest challenge in the music industry today is getting new songs into the hands of people who will appreciate them. On-demand music services and social networks have replaced the traditional medium of radio for many audiophiles. Surprise ! Video games could be the next stage in this never-ending quest.

“The music industry has realized that they now need a mix of influence in worlds like TikTok, Netflix and video games to make their stars or new stars shine,” explains Simon Landry, Music Supervisor at Ubisoft Montreal. “If you can create a signature moment using these three platforms, you have an effective way to market an artist’s music. »

Simon Landry doesn’t speak out of turn. The producer met with composer Stephanie Economou in Los Angeles last February to accept the first-ever Grammy Award given by the American recording industry for a video game or interactive media soundtrack. It was for the theme song of the Dawn of Ragnarök expansion of the game Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

Any video game fan will confirm: the competition was fierce. Ms. Economou’s work surpasses the soundtracks of other popular titles, including Call of Duty: Vanguard and Guardians of the Galaxy.

In the video game industry, one thing is clear: video games are an effective distribution platform for releasing music of all genres. Dawn of Ragnarök is also very interested in black metal, a subgenre of heavy metal that is particularly popular in Northern Europe.

Wilderun, an American progressive metal band that was involved in the Dawn of Ragnarok soundtrack, has a sound that is a far cry from the 8-bit and upbeat sound that Koji Kondo created for Super Mario Bros in the 1980s. created. from Nintendo, which anyone between the ages of 35 and 55 can now effortlessly hum on demand.

For all tastes

Not all Assassin’s Creed players will be humming black metal tunes in the shower. For a group or an entire style of music that’s more niche like Wilderun and his Scandinavian metal, it’s still quite a promotional showcase. The video game of course, not the shower! (although…)

“It’s a paradigm shift,” says Simon Landry. In every game, there are dozens – sometimes even hundreds – of hours in which the audience is captivated. This is an opportunity to showcase all types of music, usually on a loop. A single player in a single game is therefore exposed to the same song more than once.

Until an AI completely replaces composers? We are not there yet, assure the experts consulted for this report. Instant and automated music generation already exists, but it is based on original works. The music industry earns valuable royalties from the music featured in many games. Nobody is interested in changing the model.

In any case, all of this shows that video games have taken their place in the broader entertainment industry. Its revenues have exceeded those of television and cinema for years. In fact, they now exceed the combined income of the two, who are increasingly inspired by them. Mario Bros., Gran Turismo and Last of Us received versions for the big and small screens this year.

Music works a little differently at the moment. Digital transformation includes on-demand music services called Spotify and Apple Music. Its popular artists use video games to cement popularity already established elsewhere. Kylie Minogue and Lil Nas Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney were also able to freshen up their image a little thanks to them.

This is where Coeur de Pirate tried the experiment ten years ago by composing the music for a role-playing game called Child of Light. According to reports, the Quebec artist is preparing something special these days to commemorate ten years of this collaboration.

Then, in late November, Quebec electro-pop duo Milk & Bone announced that they would be writing the soundtrack for a new game called Atom Eve, inspired by the main character of Invincible, an Amazon Prime comic and animated series. Platform.

This is a second video game outing for Camille Poliquin and Laurence Lafond-Beaulne. The first time, in 2018, her song “Natalie” was included in a game called Life Is Strange 2. This time there are 17 songs that are tailor-made for Atom Eve.

This collaboration marks a new era in our career. This is a new pillar for us.

“When we create for a game, we can work differently. “We have the impression of playing,” explain the two composers. They came to us because of our sonic universe, our artistic identity, not to copy what had already been done. This collaboration marks a new era in our career. This is a new pillar for us. »

The two composers demand more. They are already working on a soundtrack for another video game due out in 2025.

Video game or… music game?

The line between music and video games is becoming a little more blurred every day.

Talk to Spotify subscribers who are listening to the playlist of Rocket League, a car soccer game (yes, it exists). The list consists of the songs played in the game and is updated as the game itself updates its own music library.

Or ask around who saw Eminem in Fortnite in early December in the form of a Kaiju, those giant Japanese monsters. The rapper also sang Godzilla, a track full of relevance. For many of its approximately 100 million returning players, Fortnite is the new Woodstock. It’s the outdoor stage (albeit virtual) where their favorite artists perform.

Artists big and small, because in the new version Fortnite allows anyone who wants to create their own little digital stage to give a virtual concert.

“Today anyone can have a concert on Fortnite,” said Alain Tascan, executive vice president at Epic Games, publisher of the popular game. “It is a complete platform that we offer.” The artist can interact and see his audience. We’re trying to completely change the way we access music. »

“And it will continue. »

This collaboration marks a new era in our career. This is a new pillar for us. Milk & Bones »

To watch in the video