Struggling to gain exposure for your music? Digital strategist Bas Grasmayer explains why you should be engaging with the indie video game community.
Most people hold a romantic view of the music discovery process: someone hears a great song, instantly falls in love with it, finds out who the artist is and starts to follow that artist closely.
Reality is different. More often than not, someone hears your song but it barely registers as it plays… and then they never hear it again. Opportunity missed, because you never managed to grab their attention.
It’s attention, not money, that is the scarcest resource on the web. To be discovered, to win fans, you must be able to bring people back to your music consistently. To let people form a bond with it. Your mission is not just to have your music heard by as many people as possible, your mission is to have your music heard again and again and again.
It’s only when a bond is formed with your music, that people truly become fans; that people will be eager to spend money on whatever exciting things you have to offer them; that people start bugging local promoters to bring you over for a gig.
If it already seems like a daunting prospect to someone to listen to your music once, then getting them to listen to it five times must seem damn near impossible. Luckily, there are people out there who can help you with that problem; if you can solve theirs.
There are thousands of indie game developers who need soundtracks for their games. It doesn’t even really matter what genre of music you make, because there’s such a diversity of games, genres, settings, themes and moods. They need music in their games that augments the experience of gamers and hopefully creates immersive gameplay.
People playing the game will hear the music as they play through the various stages of the game and develop a bond with it over time. Even without the cult followings the Undertale soundtrack (over 2 million plays on YouTube) or the soundscapes to Minecraft have, it’s easy to understand the value in having people coming back to your music regularly, through the medium of a video game.
Now how do you plug your music? You’ll need to develop an interest in the craft of creating video games and understand a bit of the dynamics. This will help you to speak to game developers using their own language and will allow you to present your music to them in a way that addresses their needs. Have a look at the various communities of indie game developers on forums, Twitter, Tumblr and in Slack communities. Look at indie game hits with popular soundtracks. And slowly start engaging with developers.
Now, developers might not always have the budget to pay for the music. Many are hobbyists and don’t expect to make money from their games or to break even. So enter into a conversation and see how you can be forthcoming. You can negotiate all kinds of things like getting money once the game reaches some kind of sales threshold, high visibility of your artist brand inside the game, promotion to players of the game, etc.
Don’t lose sight of the goal: you want to bring people back to your music regularly, so that they form a bond and become a fan — once they’re in your ecosystem, the ways to monetize multiply rapidly.
Bas Grasmayer runs the MUSIC x TECH x FUTURE digital strategy agency and newsletter.