The Future of Music and Gaming: What Does the Epic Games Buyout Mean For Musicians?
Updated: Mar 14, 2022
To many, Epic Games buying out Bandcamp might seem like a bit of a head-scratcher. After all, gaming and music markets seem to be pretty distinct – or so we thought.
Below, we’ll analyze why this merger actually makes a lot of sense and how the continued collaboration between musicians and gaming communities is mutually beneficial.
Why Did Epic Games Buy Bandcamp?
The Epic Games Bandcamp merger continues to raise eyebrows, not without reason. After all, why would an indie music oasis go under a company most known for pumping out games like Fornite and Rocket League?
According to Epic, Bandcamp “will play an important role in Epic’s vision to build out a creator marketplace ecosystem for content, technology, games, art, music.” While Bandcamp isn’t a top dog DSP by any means, the site is well-loved by musicians for the ability to set their own price on art. Artists typically collect 82% of every sale, and the platform generously waives fees for artists on “Bandcamp Fridays.”
So what’s with this oddball crossover? In short, untapped potential. As it turns out, gamers stream music at double the rate of the average listener. There’s obvious opportunity for artists if only someone could build out the infrastructure that doesn’t strike down gamers with overbearing and largely historic music copyright claims… That’s where conglomerates like Epic Games may be able to help.
While Epic Games is admittedly very tight-lipped about their plans regarding Bandcamp, we can only hope that they’ll be able to integrate more music from artists into their platforms and help shift the policy surrounding it.
This wouldn’t be a huge jump for them either — In the past, Epic has fought against giants like Apple’s app store for taking up to a 30% cut on all in-app purchases from the consumer. Epic’s emphasis on collecting directly from the consumer aligns well with the values of Bandcamp.
At the very least, it’s clear the Epic Games is interested in facilitating as many open markets as possible, which can be few and far between in the music industry. For the most part, artists remain cautiously optimistic about major players in the gaming industry helping to fill this void, which has long served as the elephant in the room.
What The Music Industry Can Learn From The Gaming Ecosphere
In order to better understand why the music industry is in need of a cultural revolution, we have to look at the vastly different philosophies commanding the gaming and music industry. While both industries are fueled by creative experiences and flagship artists/gamers, the music industry isn’t as quick to evolve with the world around it.
One of the reasons why the gaming industry continues to grow exponentially is its communal perspective surrounding in-game intellectual property. Livestreamers are free to showcase gaming footage at ease, and this, in turn, boosts a game’s community and popularity. In fact, the amount of time spent watching exclusively gamers on Twitch and YouTube is greater than the watch time of Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, and HBO combined.
Meanwhile, if a streamer or general creator decides to utilize one of their favorite songs in a piece of content, they’re likely to be faced with DMCA takedowns or lose monetization abilities, even when the music is played at a low volume.
This archaic approach to music is killing the community for artists, which is arguably much more profitable than the music itself. After all, wealth in music has always come from somewhere not directly intertwined with the art form. Whether it’s creating a perfume or launching a product line, the most successful musicians capitalize on their visibility in the industry to pay their bills through another medium.
TikTok is starting to open doors and continues to place footholds in the charts, sending even 40-year-old music back into the mainstream. These results are promising, and it’s clear a whole swath of artists could benefit from simply allowing fans and communities to enjoy their music publicly.
However, TikTok is very much a microcosm of a largely Gen Z demographic, so one can only imagine what the music landscape would look like if given the opportunity to expand via unrestricted access across platforms.
The music industry’s chokehold on the medium undoubtedly limits its reach and only discourages fans who build the artists we know and love.
What Does Web3 Mean for Music in Gaming?
While an increasingly lenient approach to music could be facilitated via the gaming industry, it’s hard to imagine what this uncharted territory may look like. Thankfully, we’ve started to see glimpses of how a more open market for music may operate in this space:
In-game Events: Fortnite and Roblox have already hosted a handful of successful virtual concerts with big name artists like Ariana Grande and Lil Nas X. With Bancamps own live platform Bandcamp Live, it’s highly possible that Epic Games can help take these virtual gatherings for indie artists to the next level.
Virtual Radio Stations: The blockchain-powered streaming platform Audius has partnered with the decentralized finance agriculture simulation game (we know, it’s a mouthful) DeFi Land. Audius now has a running radio tower in DeFi land’s metaverse, allowing users to stream any song available on the Audius platform.
New Music Experiences: Gaming serves as another platform for artists to connect with a targeted market of fans that they might not otherwise come across. The virtual space also provides musicians with new ways to showcase their work.
Virtual Merch: In-game stores on Fortnite already sell luxury fashion, so expanding to artist merchandise in the metaverse doesn’t seem like a far stretch. In Web3, digital and physical goods can hold the same weight.
Emotes & Instruments: Video game emotes, such as the famed Fornite dance, have always drawn from pop culture. At Controlla, we’re bridging this gap to bring new revenue streams to artists in the form of virtual 3D instruments. Imagine if an emote was actually a playable instrument that lets players remix and sample your favorite songs in-game. This amplifies the emotional expression of gamers in their environment while simultaneously bringing new opportunities to artists, and experiences to their dedicated listeners.
The gaming industry might just be the unlikely hero of the future of music. While Epic Games and Bancamp’s collaboration might not signify a monumental change to the masses, it can certainly bring a lot of hope to musicians trying to find their footing in the landscape of Web3.
If you want to learn more about how the future of gaming and music can benefit you as an artist, join our email list here for some big announcements coming soon.