Are games the new MTV?

Game composer Marc Canham believes that games now have the power to break new bands.

Marc Canham, cofounder of Nimrod Productions, based in Oxfordshire in the UK, spoke at Nottingham's GameCity event on how the industry shouldn't shy away from taking risks on new artists for its soundtracks. In fact, he said, it should consider that its responsibility.

Canham has worked on the musical compositions for games such as Getaway: Black Monday, Driver: Parallel Lines, Heavenly Sword, Act of War, and Reservoir Dogs, among others.

The industry needs to be more adventurous when it makes up soundtracks for its games, Canham believes, attesting that this is something he personally tries hard to do. He said: "Games are quite guilty of placing obvious choices in their licensing. It's such a shame you don't seem to have the support to make brave decisions. Game producers seem to think a game doesn't have a soundtrack unless they have bands like The Killers in it... Or, bizarrely, Limp Bizkit. I'm always getting asked why we don't have that 'Rollin'' song [on the soundtrack]. But I'm really keen to promote new bands and I think the game industry can do a lot for new artists."

He also compared the current games industry to the old-format MTV, back when the network showed music videos versus its series-based programming today. He believes that the industry has the power and the responsibility to scout out new talent and work toward putting lesser-known bands' tracks in their games. "Games do have the opportunity of breaking new bands," said Canham. "They're the modern-day MTV. We can't necessarily offer a lot of money, but we can give them good promotion and get the ball rolling for them." He cited promoting the artists on the game's official Web site, for example, and releasing official soundtracks on iTunes and putting together interview CDs where the bands talk about their music.

Canham said that he and his team really enjoyed putting together the soundtrack to Driver: Parallel Lines, especially since his personal favourite musical era is sounds from the 1970s. "We used about 70 licensed tracks, and 10 exclusive tracks. The creative brief was that the game was all set in New York, part in the '70s, and then there was a modern-day revenge tale going on in the present day. It certainly wasn't hard to pick 40 songs from the '70s. While we were working on the game, the studio was permanently set up in the '70s, there were rugs on the wall and lava lamps... It was tons of fun."

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94 comments
_Sam_
_Sam_

I think that soundtracks could almost make or break the game. If Age of Empires had, for example, a Limp Bizkit soundtrack, it would have made the game terrible. That kind of game wasn't suited for any kind of music

ottomanemperor
ottomanemperor

as lewis black said - mtv is to music as kfc is to chicken

deadhead13
deadhead13

mtv has sucked for quite a while now, ever since they took off the good shows that they had, limited the music to mainly rap and pop, and then even cut down the time that music is even playing on mtv. why do they even call it mtv anymore.

SunnySimantov
SunnySimantov

EA games, like NFS:Underground (1) and FIFA games, have very good soundtracks. Muse on Fifa 07, "get low" on NFS.... I like to hear something I already know and familiar with in games. Oh, and the catchy rap in NFS:Underground got me really hooked, though I'm pretty much into rock and not rap\hip hop. Fifa 98 also had blur's song 02 as the opening song... one of the best I gotta say.

MorbidAnimation
MorbidAnimation

Sucks to MTV... Anyway, I agree mostly with people who say that the best soundtracks are those that are composed for that game specifically ie God of War and Final Fantasy, and Gregson-Williams' work on Metal Gear. But look at it the other way for a minute. Sonic Adventure 2 Battle had a soundtrack composed for itself, but I personally couldn't stand any of the songs that had those puerile lyrics on them. That's a no-go right there. I mean, can you imagine God of War with tacky grind vocals? No, neither could I. And as for licensed soundtracks, don't do it unless you're absolutely sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that the songs work with the game. (Grand Theft Auto comes to mind here.) OK, it's good to see new bands getting heard, but what's the use if you're more interested in clearing the game than the music? I wouldn't listen to My Chemical Romance if I was doing something difficult, and neither would most people. Especially if the songs on it are those that everyone's heard before *cough*Burnout 3*cough*. "He cited promoting the artists on the game's official Web site, for example, and releasing official soundtracks on iTunes and putting together interview CDs where the bands talk about their music." Now come on. We have to draw a line somewhere. Verdict: I know that Canham has good intentions but some ideas just don't work in video games. Not on my Playstation at any rate. PS: And who would want to hear My Chemical Romance anyway? =)

limelight022
limelight022

I want to listen to what I want, NOT what the game companies current "flavor-of-the-month" bands promote. Im talking to you EA, and all your generic, boring, trashy hip-hop, heavy metal garbage.

SoralinkGS
SoralinkGS

MTV is a waste of time to watch, but the mainstream continue to watch it...its mainly because they say they have nothing better to do...figures...

cencal
cencal

the reason why i hate mtv is because of that stupid show "laguna beach" i mean why do we care about the lives of some dumb girls who cause drama for the smallest thing? i know i dont the only good show on their has to be the duel thats it!!!

Timonius
Timonius

Plus one thing thats rarely touched upon, is people can listen to the same 10 tracks over and over again in a game... They're whistling the tunes the next day etc. Not to mention like this report shows, it opens up the gates to more specialist bands and artists out there, to coincide with a games theme etc. Nice observations indeed Canham... lets hope developers hear these wise words

Ocram_Zepol
Ocram_Zepol

MTV sucks now... it's all about Fuse.

masterchief375
masterchief375

MTV is all about breaking up couples (parental control!!!) and games PWN MTV so bad

tomservo51
tomservo51

MTV can go to hell. It sucked back in the 80 and 90's too.

Bane_v2
Bane_v2

I don't even know what channel MTV is.

Riverwolf007
Riverwolf007

The more important question still is, is MTV the new Lifetime.

capthunt
capthunt

games the new MTV.... DUH!!

fingerpaint
fingerpaint

If games are the new MTV does that mean they will start to suck and I will have to quit caring about them? Or that games are now only for people 16 and under?

Unassigned
Unassigned

Thank god for custom soundtracks!! First sign of any "hip-hop" the soundtrack goes OFF and the custom music goes ON.

chrisdojo
chrisdojo

music television..... music videos....... now, stupid "reality" and whatever shows...... hmmm....... not seeing the connection GS.

haloj
haloj

Project Gotham Racing did the good thing and plumped for a range of music from small to large bands. Giving great independant bands like Deathboy a chance to expose their music to a larger crowd.

GrimBee
GrimBee

Games definately ARENT the new MTV... unless of course you are talking about the OLD mtv. I would hate it, as a games developer for example, if I was paid an unscrupulous ammount for putting in songs i dont even want, in the game. If the music industry fronts cash for "popular music" in "popular games" this means the gaming industry will become as commercial and uninspired as MTV is now. With games, the developers (producers, creators) choose their music for the games, and its like the film industry in that respect (for fronting music). But with Mtv they stick a load of crappy my chemical romance all over the place instead of consitently good music, JUST so they can get more viewers to watch their otherwise teeny programme schedules. I would loathe the day when you can play a game, and then it would let you purchase the song online.. via sony store.. But you know, i guess thats what sony have in mind for their revenue and their own music label... hmmm.... NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

batosaisilver
batosaisilver

ehhh.... I prefer original themes from the game directors themselves... or coobrative ideas like in SSX Tricky with Mix master Mike.... or huge symphonic scores like Henry-Gregson Williams in Metal Gear. But I guess it would be great to hear new stuff in games that seem to flow well with licensed music (read: sports games hehe).

McDog3
McDog3

He shouldn't have compared game music to MTV, but other than that, I agree with what he says. When i'm playing my MX or Tony Hawk games, I like a little more........alternative stuff to listen too. I like listening to songs from artists i've never heard of. Unlike some people, i'll actually give any band at least ONE shot before I say "they suck"

metdevthegamer
metdevthegamer

Can't even say "MTV" in a sentence without the word "suck" going with it...

Kravyn81
Kravyn81

I'm actually a big fan of custom soundtracks, and could really care less for "up and coming" bands since they all sound the same anyway.

nappan
nappan

"Mark Canham, cofounder of Nimrod Productions" Hmmm Nimrod... that explains a LOT. Frankly the soundtrack to a game should either 1.) Create atmosphere (Doom, F.E.A.R, RE, etc) 2.) Be Thematic and original (Chrono Trigger, the FF series, etc) 3.) Appeal to a mass market and increase sales. Frankly I usually listen to my own music or audiobooks when I play games anyhow. I suspect a LOT of people don't rely on a game soundtrack unless it falls STRONGLY into catagory #1 or #2. As for #3... well it may not be groundbreaking but it works and it sells. As for the notion of making and breaking bands, I haven't seen that game devs are so great at polishing MOST games and I'd rather they spend time on the GAME rather than making a "favourite hits" soundtrack.

brok
brok

I loved the 70's soundtrack in D:PL, but the modern half was just awful. And who remembers the exclusive songs from GTA3? Have unknown music in your games by all means...if you want to have an easily forgotten soundtrack. Or worse still, run the risk of having a soundtrack that is better than the actual game, like Driv3r, and to a lesser extent D:PL.

cancongamer
cancongamer

Um... games have been breaking new bands for 10 years... wtf?

JLCrogue
JLCrogue

MTV sucks worse than G4, and that's a lot of suckage!!

superkoolstud
superkoolstud

As long as the music they use is Underground or real Indie. I am sick of mainstream crap that plays nowadays. All Rock-esque music is too poppy all Rap is to Hip-hoppy.

synapticflow
synapticflow

I don't want games to break new bands. I want games to be about games, and the music to compliment the experience, not seem like a separate product.

Erebus
Erebus

Mtv = ass Video games = not ass Music = not ass I think they're on to something.

nxn666
nxn666

i feel happy that new bands get their chance to be heard thanks to videogames. it's been a long time since MTV stop playing music. they play crap(that thing they call music) and stupid reality tv. MTV SUCKS

TWalsh3378
TWalsh3378

Canham has worked on the musical compositions for games such as Getaway: Black Monday, Driver: Parallel Lines, Heavenly Sword, Act of War, and Reservoir Dogs, among others. Maybe if these games had focused more on their gameplay than their soundtracks they would have actually been good. Canham sucks. Why is he in this indusrty?

whitey3221
whitey3221

I don't know about anybody else, but I first heard of yellowcard and flogging molly through video games. Thanks to Madden and Tony Hawks pro-skater for those two bands. I never would have heard of Flogging Molly from MTV cause I don't think they've ever had any music on there anyways. Besides that I've heard some pretty decent new music out of boston thanks to red octane and guitar hero, where those bands may never have made it onto mtv. I think it's just another way for bands/musicians to become more notorious than they previously were. That's all.

Sweendrix
Sweendrix

I think that this idea has quite a fair bit of legitimacy. I for one love the music in some video games and even aspire to re-create the music from games in my home studio from time to time. Anyone who wants can check out my Halo Remix on Youtube... Halo Remix...Sweendrix http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbJk8aSfD5c

TintedChimes
TintedChimes

Doubt it, it doesn't near reach the amount of audience. However, it might allow for people to be interested in well, better soundtracks.

zintarr
zintarr

MTV has sucked for years now.

wooooode
wooooode

Maquis_UK I agree EA does alot of great sound tracks, and I heard a song in MLB 05 and fell in love so I looked it up in the options and it was Hot Hot Heat's You Owe Me a IOU.

Maquis_UK
Maquis_UK

EA = MTV. yes it does. ...continuous repeating sound loops and a ton of advertising... classy!

Mr_Saturn26
Mr_Saturn26

games the new MTV??? i can see new unheard of bands praticing their music, letting it be used on new games, and starting out, but a new MTV, thats bubkis.

arklansman
arklansman

noooo!! please dont turn games into sh1t

Elmdorz
Elmdorz

Seeing that games are becoming more and more about imagery and nothing else, Id say its becoming like MTV.

piecake
piecake

yay games rule yay games all games rule i love games way !

stlthriot
stlthriot

I'm all about hearing new bands in games, especially the sports and racing genres. If I want to hear something that is already popular I'll just turn the game music down and turn up the stereo. This is definitely a great way to give gamers the chance to hear something new and possibly before anyone else who doesn't play games and tell those friends about the artist.

comthitnuong
comthitnuong

mtv stands for music television...it was not meant for games...it should just stickwith music videos..

hangyourcross
hangyourcross

"Are games the new MTV? Game composer Mark Canham believes that games now have the power to break new bands." Ummm, when was the last time MTV actually had music by a completely new band on? All of the music that they play is from bands that have already released albums on smaller labels, and are now on larger ones. Or new bands with members of split up popular bands. Nothing truly new, and mostly crap.

CheddarLimbo
CheddarLimbo

Odin897 - In all liklihood, using an unknown band would cost the developers *less* money because the rights to their music would be far less expensive than those of a well-known band. I agree with you that it's a bad idea, though. The fact, remains that bands with well-known music are more costly because their music has a broader appeal and is more likely to be well received.