After an exciting year for both industries, the 1st annual MusicGamingCon was held this past week. The two-day conference touched on noticeable insights and trends within the worlds of gaming, music, and tech. The event was a collaborative effort on behalf of Amanotes and Nue Agency to bring together notable panelists within each field. The Vietnamese gaming app began to seek a bigger presence within the U.S. and reached out to the creative music agency and CEO Jesse Kirshbaum. As a way to connect industry heavy-hitters with Amanotes, Jesse came up with the idea of MusicGamingCon. Nue Agency in tandem with Amanotes helped to conceptualize MusicGamingCon.
While discussing the virtual conference, Kirshbaum shared that much of the anticipation came from its immediate importance. “Music in gaming is basically the hottest conversation right now in the music business and gaming is the hottest area in entertainment… I think that’s why it got so much attention is because it’s [the event] an intersection of an area where they both meet, especially in a pandemic. Gaming loves to borrow from the creativity, starpower, and credibility of musical artists.”
COVID-19 has caused the live entertainment industry to fold and the music industry to search for other avenues through technology. With everyone staying inside, music’s ties with the ever-growing gaming industry grew deeper. Currently, the industry is home to nearly 3 billion gamers and over half a billion esports viewers that tune in. With gaming growing rapidly, music has a chance to fill a missing void for innovating creative spaces.
Since 2020 started, high-profile collaborations with artists and video games have hit headlines for partnerships and virtual performances. The most noteworthy is the recent deal that rapper Travi$ Scott inked with Sony for an 8-figure console deal. This is all part of a clear plan to bring gaming to the vanguard of entertainment.
Water & Music’s founder and keynote speaker Cherie Hu said that “major developers like Epic and Riot Games are coming with aspirations of becoming larger pop culture companies.” The founder also touched on both industries seeing joint introductions into the world of academia. Beginning in 2021, Hu will teach an NYU music-gaming seminar on the history and trends of both fields.
With gaming giving new direction for music, it also provides more ways for artists to distribute and create. Just as music inspires gaming to push the envelope creatively, games are responsible for inspiring the sounds of the most iconic tunes. They’re also now responsible for breaking out rising artists to massive audiences via music licensing.
Andrew Hampp also spoke during this year's MusicGamingCon discussing the impact gaming has towards garnering bigger responses for soundtrack cuts. “The right placement at the right time on the right game can catapult an unknown song into the cultural stratosphere”, shared the 1803 LLC founder.
Various other speakers also shared insight on the flaws that come with music licensing in the gaming world. As live-streaming's popularity increases, undeveloped music licensing laws have made it difficult for creatives to stream. For influencers within this realm, their built-up followings can be loss because their content contains music.
Platinum-recording producer Just Blaze expressed his discomfort with having entire sets being pulled off social media due to copyrights. He shared, "When DJ's on platforms like Twitch or Facebook, we're promoting the music and not selling it. Whenever we [DJ's] do a popular stream, you see the numbers for streams go up for the artists that made the song. But they don't see it that way. It's certain parts of the music business that still have rules based on a system that doesn't exist anymore."
The conference wrapped by touching on the tech and marketing trends that will work going forward. One interesting take from producer Clinton Sparks suggests that gaming is going through a similar cycle of culture sensationalism that hip-hop underwent. Hailing it as the "new hip-hop", the producer coined the term for the arising industry due to its influence and admiration amongst teenagers. As brands learn from past mistakes, most should look optimistic towards the gaming world before it globally commercializes the same way rap did. As the two industries dominate entertainment, there hasn't been a better time to strengthen their ties together.
MusicGamingCon was an insightful two-day weekend that held a much-needed conversation for both fields. The panelists dropped plenty of keys for anyone looking to capitalize on the merging worlds as an artist or executive. As music and gaming's occupy dominance within society, events like these are needed to keep track of the narrative.
Conference organizer Jesse Kirshbaum hopes to not only host the next in-person, but even in different global regions. "Hopefully with the next conference, we can have a physical and digital component for tuning in. We're also prepared to take this globally and doing this in other regions. All of these conversations are different and important. The more we have these conversations together, the more innovative partnerships are going to happen."