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Your Guide to Using Legal Music Soundtracks in Video Games.

Video games have transformed from dull vintage arcades into a multi-sensory experience that has inspired generations. The global gaming business revenue peaked up to $159B U.S. dollars in 2020.

Music for games

What was once regarded as the domain of rejected nerds is now one of the most booming industries all over the world. It is not only thriving itself but also helping the music industry to make strides.


 

| Table of contents

Music Production in Video game Development
Different Types of Game Music
The Process of Creating Audio for Games
Music Sound Effects for Video Games
Theme Song for Video Games
The Interaction between Game Design and Music
Custom Music Production for Gaming Companies
Foximusic License Terms for Video Games
Creative music production as an outsource service

 


Getting the right soundtrack for your video game productions could be the key to meet the expectations of modern gamers and trends. As music has become a core part of video game development, effective music branding can really make the difference between a definite gold-mine and a real flop.

When it comes to music licensing, there are two different types of licenses that you need.  A sync license lets you use the music draft in your visual work while a master-use license allows the use of its recording. Getting music Licenses from multiple sources can be a demanding job. Foximusic helps you understand the basics of master-use and sync licenses and offers its own customized packages as well.

Let’s explore multiple different aspects of game soundtracks and their licensing matters.

Music Production in Video game Development

When we talk about famous video games like Street Fighter II, Tetris, etc., the first thing that comes to mind is their iconic soundtracks. Yes, music has the power to convince. 40% of passionate gamers turned into buyers after hearing the game song, says a survey.

With the rapid advancements in the technology accompanying video game development, soundtracks have changed and gaming music has evolved.

Different Types of Game Music

Music is integrated in many different ways in games to achieve an effective recreational impact.

Sometimes to add an emotional touch (Extra-Diegetic Music), at other times, to add something like what a player would hear as part of the game ecosystem (Diegetic Music). Typically, we define these different types of game music in functional terms.

Non-Diegetic sounds are those like a voice-over or soundtrack music. Background sounds (Ambient sounds) embellish the feel of the scene. And lastly, Sound effects include non-verbal sounds whose source is clear to the audience.

The game music should be composed of your customized requirements kept in mind.

Conceptualization before Music Composition

The game development team coordinates with the music designer and conceptualizes the functional and stylistic goals of the music before starting the designing process.

There’s really no one single process that every designer must follow but the following steps can help you determine which direction is the most effective for your game.

The Process of Creating Audio for Games

Gather and Process Materials

To start with, gather necessary game materials that include: Design docs, Scripts, art assets, prototypes, and other notes. In case of any of these materials not available in the beginning, you should start anyways and consider adjusting them later.

Prioritize Primary Game Objectives

Prioritizing the most important concepts is the next step. For instance, what’s more important aspect of your game?  Is it some strategy elements or overall story or a certain character? Reaching a solid decision will set the direction for optimal music production.

Create a Music Asset List

Create a music asset list which is like a hint that you’ll need for the final outlook of the game. When you base the music around certain themes, the Asset list contains details of such themes.

Define Interactive Elements in the Design

Define the additional interactive music components that allow real-time fluctuations i.e. when a player takes some decision when an enemy approaches etc.

Create an Audio Style Guide

A style guide is a tool that helps designers focus on the direction of a creative game element. It is a compilation of contrasting scenarios represented in a way so to define the ultimate direction of the game.

For example, if a character is supposed to wander around the universe as in Uncharted 2s: Among Thieves, each chunk of the game should have its own unique music style guide.

Create an Audio Design Document

An Audio strategy for the game should be compiled in written form and shared with the developers so that they finalize the creative parts for your game.

Conclusion:

“A good rule of thumb when recording sounds in the field: record at the level you plan to playback in the game.” says Aaron Marks in his book “THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO GAME AUDIO”

The soundtracks are licensed to game developers only for a predetermined purpose. Remember, popular songs are too expensive to license so it’s suggested to consider using royalty-free music.

Foximusic offers years of experience in all kinds of royalty-free game soundtracks. The above-mentioned development protocols are strictly followed at our studios and eventually we deliver top-notch music that is in 100% agreement with your game theme.

Music Sound Effects for Video Games

These are non-verbal sounds created within the onscreen ecosystem and their sources are quite evident to the players and virtual characters.

Sound effects control emotions and are significant in establishing the tone of storytelling.  From basic sounds like a rifle reloading to iconic Waka Waka of Pacman, they set the mood of the game.

They are designed to accompany an activity and are vital in emphasizing the characters, and worlds we see on the screen.

When sound effects are needed:

Sound effects should be able to validate your achievements or something good in your video game journey.

Some positive stimulators in a game that need sound effects to make greater impact could include Increased player health, Next stage, Conquering the enemy citadel, etc. and the Sound effects could be ‘You nailed it!’, or “Correct Answer”.

Some warning events could be, Dreadful weather, Amount of remaining player health, Enemy approaching your citadel, and many others so the sound effects will also be in accordance.

Designing Sound Effects for your Game.

The best sound effects are connected to the game design so that the music is in accordance with the game flow. Therefore you need to establish a set of criteria of what satisfies the needs of the story so that you can best judge their effectiveness.

The developers and the sound designer finalize which moves in the game would stimulate a music effect. This allows the music to sync well with the gameplay. After all, it’s important to avoid hearing the fiery battle music when you killed the enemy minutes ago.

Custom Sound effects are composed on a buyout basis specifically for a project. You can purchase them from various sound effects libraries.

Of course, these libraries claim that they are “Royalty Free,” you should not forget to carefully read the fine print in the agreement. There could be hidden charges linked with a wider distribution of the game and other stuff.

3 Ways to Get Music Sound Effects for your Games

  • Buy use-ready sound effects from digital libraries and add them instantly to your game.
  • License sound recordings from trusted audio libraries to create a more realistic and versatile user experience.
  • Produce your own audio scripts from scratch to meet your customized music needs according to your game design.

Remember, there is no fixed answer to the question, ‘ Are these sound effects good?” Music composition is a purely subjective venture so it should be critiqued with a creative eye and with a qualitative approach.

Theme Song for Video Games

A theme song for video games has the power to reflect the game themes again and again and impress upon the player the mindful impact of the game. Apart from just words, the music and tonality of the song add value to the game themes at another level.

Theme songs are central to all the craze about a video game. Remember the super Mario brothers theme? It is one of the most nostalgic theme songs ever. It’s been years since we first listened to it and we are still smashing walls, jumping, and dodging street traps as if we were progenies of Mario Bros. GO Mario…!

Anatomy of a Perfect Theme Song

Theme song designing in video game development has so many dimensions to cover, from picking up the optimal production process to optimizing game music interaction.

The whole theme song should be sentimental enough to be your new obsession but the introductions and endings require special focus.

Introductions should be able to convey the game’s content and gameplay instantly to the player and compound his excitement as if he were getting into some real world. For example, The Witcher 3 theme song.

Endings, on the other hand, should serve to conclude everything that the player has experienced, so the song tempo should also gradually decrease and its energy level should also come down. Think of a multi-themed medley bringing back all the memories to your mind and then fading away in a slow fashion.

Conclusion:

A perfect theme song should be super fun to play. It should be able to convey mood and contribute to the game setting. A good rule of thumb to avoid ear fatigue is that a single piece of music should be hitting at least 5 minutes in length before looping around again and again.

Music Rights Organizations like SESAC provide sync licenses for many popular theme songs that means you don’t have to worry about contacting famous celebrities on your own in order to acquire theme songs for your video games. You can look up in their database, in case it is there, you can request a sync license.

Foximusic, along with its royalty-free music services, provides its customers with a legal way to license music for gaming for individual creatives and companies of all shapes and sizes.

The Interaction between Game Design and Music

The sonic reality is not necessarily needed in the game world because it’s not essentially about fidelity: It’s about having a perfect Interaction between game design and music.

The first time that I played Red Dead Redemption, I really enjoyed playing with the controls, instead of focusing on meeting the game’s goals. I really wondered how real the graphics seemed to me and I am sure I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.

It was an outstanding fusion of sound and images that added whole new freshness and realness to the original meanings of the sound and the image. This separation and subsequent integration of sound and its causal agent are central to most sound designs in today’s audiovisual media and is an effective way to immerse the players.

Take another example: Guitar Hero. It is an example of “Interactive Music” that is used when a player has direct control over the music.

The second type is Adaptive Music where the player has indirect control over the music. Adaptive music uses many factors to change itself dynamically including the weather, number of enemies, time of day, etc. Inspired by amazing interaction in Monkey Island 2, many composers now prefer adaptive music for greater effects.

Let’s discuss Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. The main character is in search of the lost treasure so he has to explore various landscapes and deal with the enemies throughout the path.

As the enemies get close to the player, the music changes its cue from exploring to danger. When fighting with these enemies, the music changes to varying battle cues. These cues keep adapting their intensity to the emotional state of the game. When emotions come down, the music goes back to explore cue.

Conclusion:

The game music interaction is key to real-time music adaption and hence enhances the emotional involvement of the players. It does so by creating multiple dynamic layers so that the music can change with the player’s decisions and moves.

Both developer and the composer can have copyrights of the Adaptive/Interactive music.

Custom Music Production for Gaming Companies

Companies like Foximusic compose and produce royalty-free music for gaming projects in a non-exclusive license base. But sometimes you need music according to your customized requirements as we discussed in the beginning.

The following two elements are core to the contract of custom music production for gaming companies.

The Game Audio Budgeting

A percentage of the total game development budget is set aside for audio. From all the parameters that decide this percentage, the Importance of Audio in the Success of the Game has the biggest say. Then, designers and the signee decide what chunks of this percentage will go to voiceover, music, and sound design categories.

Remember, for optimal results, developers should retain control over the creative aspects of the audio.

Marketing Materials

A separate budget is assigned for marketing productions like Trailers and Webinars. Make sure that the style and tone of the audio for marketing projects suits the game genre.

Problems with Custom Music production

Sometimes, out of narrow-budget problems, some developers avoid exclusive copyrighting of the soundtrack. So, they don’t license the custom music score on a buyout basis. Eventually, as he has all the rights, the composer might try to cover the revenue losses and exploit the music in a way that would have negative effects on the game’s perception.

What if your game theme song is playing in a TV ad of biscuits? What will be your feelings? Imagine, if your game becomes a super success and you want to launch a sequel, that will give a lot of bargain power to the composers and you might suffer even more later on.

Foximusic License Terms for Video Games

Foximusic has all necessary permissions from the legal representatives of video game soundtracks to grant rights to the Licensee. With a premium license, you can use our soundtracks as background music in your video games.

The selection of theme song for your game requires special focus as not being able to capitalize it or any failure in picking up a song that complements your game theme might result in poor results. Creating new musical works based on our licensed compositions and then releasing and distributing them is not allowed. That means for launching a game sequel, you need a new license for the soundtrack.

Moreover, you can’t include licensed audio files as stand-alone elements in any music compilations that are typically used for brand endorsements.

Check out the latest releases to our catalogue

New Releases


City Lights

Ambient urban Trap, creating a contemplative, hopeful mood.

Urban Tale

Ambient groovy Trap mixed with cinematic elements to create a cool urban atmosphere.

Hakuna Matata

Optimistic, carefree, inspiring, creating a cheerful and happy mood.

New Earth

Thrilling and inspiring orchestral music combined with rock elements.

City Of The Future

Dreamy and pulsing electronic tune to create an inspiring futuristic mood.

The Last Cowboy

Swagger indie folk-rock song, featuring a fun wild west music style.


Catch Me If You Can

An indie-pop song with an uplifting beat and cool sound.

The Last Cowboy

Swagger indie folk-rock song, featuring a fun wild west music style.

Young Forever

Fun, energetic summer pop-dance, perfect for lifestyle advertisements.

Good Vibes Only

Motivational royalty-free music tune for commercial use.

Hurry Up it’s Christmas

A cheerful orchestral soundtrack with heartwarming Holiday & Seasonal mood.

The Royal Show

Inspiring and magical, creating an uplifting and heartwarming mood.


Extreme Sports Rock

Energetic & powerful rock soundtrack for commercial use.

Uplifting Sports Rock

A powerful indie track in an upbeat pop-rock style.

Best Day of My Life

Motivational and uplifting acoustic royalty free background music.

You Can Do It

Positive & motivational music with a confident corporate feel.

Hip Hop Beat

Old-school classic Hip Hop beat for lifestyle projects.

Let’s Get Funky

Groovy upbeat 70’s-style black funk music for commercial use.

Conclusion:

All audio files included in the purchases remain the property of Foximusic and are licensed to you as the original end-user, for uses mentioned in detail in our agreement. Lastly, all rights not explicitly granted herein are reserved exclusively by Foximusic.

Creative music production as an outsource service

You can hire creative music composers from freelancing sites like Fiverr.com or Upwork.com. They can understand your business purpose, your music needs and can deliver the required quality.

They are capable enough to meet your music needs but the problem starts when you critically judge their work. Being able to recognize what kind of music you need as a developer is one thing, judging it against the desired quality benchmarks is another and most developers lack this quality.

Unless you are proficient in the subject of music, it’s really tough to ratiocinate why you like or dislike a music score. That’s why there are college degrees and high school certificates in the subject of music. Whereas, lending over the music production tasks to the programmers is also a high-risk proposition.

So, once that we are done with the pros and cons associated with outsourcing the creative music production for games, let’s discuss some guidelines to follow before you consider outsourcing music production.

Creative Music Production Outsourcing Guidelines

Audio services rates also keep varying depending on the project and your bargaining skills. Additionally, large numbers of short music files take longer to create than fewer but longer files.

The soundtrack will change as the game design changes, so you should consider addressing this issue in the contract. Reach a consensus with the music composer that how many revisions you will need and when. Obviously, that would involve an increase in the fees.

Also, you should consider outsourcing bulk projects as more the quantity, lower the costs of production. Sometimes developers have their own staff that can handle some of the audio works for the game, so depending on the needs, partial or occasional participation of music composers can also benefit the developers.

Conclusion:

Creative music freelancers are absolutely passionate about providing the best quality game soundtracks. They can deliver effective products in relatively less time but the problem stays the same. Sound branding professional expertise is required to work effectively with them.

Music is composed of many different components that require copyright protection. If you are planning to integrate music in a video game, you will need to make sure you are not violating exclusive rights and obtain necessary permissions.

With an abundance of digital music scores to choose from, you will want to shop for royalty-free music. Feel confident to try out different compositions before buying music for your game at Foximusic.

From soundtracks to theme songs, Foximusic is providing a top-notch variety of multi-niche game soundtracks with easy to acquire licenses. Our filler-free licensing terms are easy to understand and attractive to adhere to.

Creating a new project is fun, but it can also be a challenge. To exercise effective control over your game’s success and its future perception, it’s vital to avoid subscription-based licensing. You will be able to grow faster without worrying about renegotiations all the time.

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