This year the Recording Academy finally added a category for game music soundtracks. It’s a far more important issue in the composer community than ever before, considering the vast number of games being played and the high quality of music now being composed for them, by some of the most talented people in the industry. I discussed the upcoming Grammy competition in a Variety story here, previewed the possible nominees here, and unveiled the actual nomination slate (along with all the other Grammy nominees in the visual-media field) here.
This week, I reported on two issues involving the American Federation of Musicians, which is the union representing all professional musicians (including those who record film, TV and game music, a subject I’ve studied and reported on for more than two decades).
The AFM has threatened a leading game composer, Austin Wintory (Journey) with a $50,000 and potential expulsion for recording a game score under non-union auspices. Wintory went public with his situation on Monday. Wintory found that game publishers would not use the existing AFM game-music contract and felt he had no choice.
Two days later, the AFM announced a new game contract, hammered out after months of negotiations with Microsoft Corporation. The contract will be available to all game publishers, although some game composers remain skeptical about whether others (in addition to Microsoft) will use it. It’s been a thorny issue for years, among studio musicians and their union reps, as seen in this story from six years ago.