The digital age is facilitating a shift in not only the way we consume music but the way we use it too.
With music now easily produced, shared, and explored online, it is understandable that the traditional way of promoting music is quickly becoming one of several options. In the past, artists used to put music out and hit the road, gigging, courting the music press, and cajoling radio stations to give them airplay. Whilst that is still a route to success, it is perhaps one taken by fewer artists than ever before.
Myspace was the first site to really promote the music industry as we see it today, sharing tunes for free and self-promoting, but as the world has become more reliant on the internet, opportunities have opened up. That is certainly the case in gaming, where soundtracks have become more in-depth for games, much like they used to be for films. Film soundtracks have often helped artists become synonymous with pop cultures, such as Celine Dion with Titanic, but as gaming grows as an industry, that link is becoming stronger and more diverse.
Music and pop culture are drawing ever-closer together, with the Brother single ‘Without Us’ citing superhero The Flash as inspiration. Indeed, the two genres, gaming, and music, have come together in several ways in recent years, with one example being online slot machines. Leading gaming platform Foxy Games has numerous titles that are both directly adapted or loosely based on popular superhero characters and themes, such as Wonder Woman, Amazon Queen, and Justice League, all boasting vibrant soundtracks. Making gaming music is becoming an industry, with artists just as likely to make a living through producing music for games, pop culture, or otherwise, as they are hitting stages around the world.
The growing world of eSports is another avenue for aspiring artists to get their music heard and facilitate some level of commercial success. As early as 2014, the world of eSports was helping to deliver exposure to bands via non-traditional means. League of Legends, the biggest eSports game in the world at the time, announced the 2014 tournament via a video featuring a clip from the new Imagine Dragons single, ‘Warriors’. It was an official video viewed 80 million times on YouTube, the band then performed live in a stadium in Seoul for the final, with 40,000 fans in front of them.
Heading into 2021, it is predicted that eSports viewers will reach 450 million, as well as generating 1 Billion in revenue. That captive audience needs music to accompany their games, and for an aspiring artist, it is reaching people in their own homes like never before. Bands have been made by having their music feature on the menus of games such as FIFA, ensuring their tracks are in gamer’s heads before they even know who the artist is. The crossover is working both ways too, with established acts such as Jennifer Lopez and Drake investing in eSports. Drake is a gamer as well as a recording artist, and when he was streamed live playing against eSports superstar Tyler Ninja Blevin last year, it broke several viewing records.
These are just a handful of the ways in which the music industry and gaming industry are beginning to blur the traditional lines of distribution and music consumption. With technology changing all the time, it is likely to become more obvious as we stride further into the new decade.