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Video game music: It just keeps getting more and more popular (and more respect, too)

Video game music has come a long way since the blips and boops heard with Pong back in 1972. Things have matured and evolved to a point where at least one game theme–Super Mario Bros–is now considered “a defining sound of the nation’s history” and is headed for the US Library of Congress. Earlier this year, the first-ever Grammy Award for video games was handed out.

Video games are insanely popular. A recent poll found that Gen Zers in the US, Japan, and Brazil, play at least 11.5 hours of video games each week. It’s a huge market and artists, publishers, and record labels know it. Everyone wants their music in a hot game. From Chartmetric:

“Nowadays, many video game companies are taking the role of record labels to release original music for their games and achieve commercial success along the way. League of Legends is the highest-ranked video game artist on Chartmetric with a Spotify popularity of 81–the same as established artists like Bob Marley & The Wailers and Deftones. The game features multiple official virtual bands that release music under Riot Games and have garnered millions of followers off the game ecosystem.

“’League of Legends’” keeps building momentum for its gaming music empire by creating offline experiences that combine the virtual and real worlds, including concerts where real-life artists sing along with holographic projections of the virtual artists. The stats show us that these strategies are successful as gamers are flocking to streaming platforms to listen to their favorite tunes, including “POP/STARS” and “MORE.” League of Legends currently has 19.45M Spotify monthly listeners, 1.58M Spotify followers, and 7B YouTube channel views.”

Again , we’re talking with original music written for them.

Take Christopher Tin, a composer for a variety of games. Back in 2011, a piece from Civilization IV entitled “Baba Yetu” was nominated for a Grammy in a “best instrumental” category. The track now has over 18 million plays on Spotify (through 405 million monthly listeners) land 23 million YouTube views (with 100,000 subscribers).

Meanwhile, artists who managed to land a spot in a hot game see instant spikes in their Spotify listens. Bea Miller and Madison Beer, both American pop singers, both received significant boosts to their popularity after appearing in a video game.

If you’re into this kind of music, take a look at the Chartmetric article. And maybe fire up this playlist as you read.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38296 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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