Music 4.5: Square Enix on working with the music industry [3/5]

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Jul 5, 2006
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Games publisher Square Enix Europe took to the stage at Music 4.5 today, to talk about its work with the music industry. Anthony Price, the company’s general counsel, was the man talking about its strategy.

But first, he talked about the impact digital has had on the games industry – and how that compares to the music industry. One advantage – games have always been digital, so it had to start grappling with piracy earlier. “We’ve had an inbuilt advantage that we’ve always been thinking about piracy,” he says.

“We’ve always had DRM as part of the product. Although there are still points where the games industry can overstep the mark, it’s something that games buyers expect of games.”

It’s not that game piracy doesn’t exist, but he says it requires some degree of technical knowledge on a console at least – it’s not as frictionless as downloading music illegally.

He also says games haven’t suffered from the same kind of cherry-picking that music has – you can’t buy one twelfth of a game like you can buy one song from an album.

What about music in Square Enix’s games? Price says the company has always tried to use music cleverly, “to convey a sense of time and place” as in films. For example licensing Paint It Black by the Rolling Stones for a Vietnam-themed game. “You manage the experience,” is how he describes it.

He remembers the early days of music licensing in games – “there was a certain suspicion in the music business… they were nervous about having their music in games… But they fairly rapidly, when games started selling in their millions, saw the opportunity.”

He cites EA’s FIFA 97 soundtrack as an example – it had six or seven electronic tracks knocked up by someone in-house, and didn’t even have names. But by 2000, Robbie Williams’ new single was pre-released as part of that year’s FIFA game.

Moving on: “Now, there are opportunities for indie bands to go direct and get deals to get into games without needing a label,” he says, highlighting the Rock Band Network as one example. “The caveat to that is that you’re going to be one of tens and thousands,” he continued – so just like iTunes, it becomes a test of marketing abilities to drive downloads.

Source: Music Ally
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