Case Studies

Arts Law advises a Composer/Recording Artist on licensing their music to a game developer

Photo by Florian Olivo via UnSplash.

With an increase of the popularity of gaming and eSports, exciting new opportunities have emerged for musicians to license their music to game developers. This trend presents an incredible opportunity for composers and recording artists to reach new markets internationally and earn additional income streams from their music. 

Josh Press composes music under the name ‘Techlash’ which he describes as ‘a Cyberpunk inspired project from Australia combining heavily distorted sounds with existential ambience…’

Josh was approached by game developers from the USA who were interested in commissioning him to compose and record music that they could use for their marketing and promotion of their global eSports team. 

Josh approached Arts Law to get some advice about what template contract that he could use. Arts Law referred Josh to the ‘Music Commission for Games’ which can be used when a game developer wants a composer to create original music for use in their game. If a game developer wants to use a musician’s existing music, then the ‘Music Licence for Games’ template agreement would be a better fit. 

Arts Law explained that the basic right that a game developer will need from a musician to incorporate their music in a game, is permission to synchronise the musical work and the sound recording to the soundtrack of the game. Usually, synchronisation licences for existing music are granted on a non-exclusive basis. This means that the copyright owner can continue to use their music in any way they wish, and grant licences to third parties. 

If a game developer is seeking an exclusive licence (i.e. the developer alone can use the licensed material, to the exclusion of the copyright owner and third parties), then the fee being paid to the musician should be much higher as it will restrict the musician from being able to enter any other arrangements to commercially exploit their music. Arts Law was able to explain this to Josh and help him put a fair agreement in place with the game developers. 

Josh was very pleased with the level of support and assistance he received from Arts Law and made the following comment: 

Before signing any contracts, I wanted to get some legal advice to ensure I didn’t sign over more rights in my music than necessary. As a result of the advice and assistance from Arts Law, I was able to negotiate a deal that was fair, and I feel far more equipped to consider these sorts of opportunities in the future.” 

You can check out Techlash’s music on Spotify here