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Directly licensing your music to game developers - Printable Version

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Directly licensing your music to game developers - Chris Spyratos - 04-17-2021

I'm not really sure where this should be posted but I had to ask it somewhere. Maybe I am missing the correct part of the forum but an admin can help me with that.

As I am more interested in working directly with game developers (giving my music exclusively rather than through libraries) I have to face the fact that I have little idea of how to properly do that. One way that comes to mind is releasing the music through a platform like Distrokid and then granting them the right to use my music through a signed agreement, either for a fee or for profit sharing. This way I keep the rights of my music and they get a document that says that they can use my music for their purposes.

Then there is the royalties part which I have yet to understand. As far as I know, as long as I am a member of a royalties collecting service, I get to receive any royalties that are generated through mostly streaming services. But what about the music that is "in" a game. How can I inform my royalty collecting service that there is a game with my music that has that many downloads. Is there even a provision for this? Does music in games collect royalties?

I would like to read your experiences with this side of the craft, which I find to be largely essential but quite obscure. In my country there was a big mess with the royalty collecting service and even though it has begun to clear a little, there is still so little information about composers who write for games. Maybe an international service like GEMA would be a better option for me?

RE: Directly licensing your music to game developers - Samulis - 04-20-2021

In most cases, I just make an explicit agreement with the licensee over the music. In some cases I'll do a lump sum, where they buy the right to use the music, while in others I'll license it to them for a direct royalty or milestone, which they send straight to me. Milestones are like royalties, but they behave like lump sum payments legally (I speculate as a way to try to work around the tax law here that requires royalties as little as a few dollars to be reported, but lump sum payments up to $600 do not need to be documented individually). I've never bothered involving a PRO in game audio simply because my projects have all been so low-value (below 5 figures) that it's not even worth the effort of me filing anything. Your PRO/RCS likely has detailed documentation on all of this on their website though, if not there should be a helpline/email you can reach out to for assistance.

RE: Directly licensing your music to game developers - Chris Spyratos - 04-23-2021

Thank you Sam for your input. Setting up an agreement for the rights to use the music for a lump sum would be the most clean way to do it I guess.