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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