17 Jun Music Monday – Video Game Music!
It’s Music Monday and I figured why not talk about video game music. This post comes in celebration of Square Enix (one of my top 5 favorite developers) putting all of the original music from its Final Fantasy series on streaming services. I listen to a great deal of video game music, whether at work or while writing. I find it very focusing.
This follows Sega, Capcom, Konami, and a handful of other video game companies who have put their music on streaming services. I think it’s awesome and video game music is just as important as any other brand or type of music out there. As a songwriter I will often list off a few video game composers in my influences in the same breath as my favorite bands and musicians. My songs probably wouldn’t exist in the same form if I didn’t listen to hundreds of hours of Mario, Mega Man, Final Fantasy, and Street Fighter Music. The works of Nobuo Uematsu, Yoko Shimimura, Takeshi Tateishi, and Koji Kondo have been just as important to me as Green Day, The Ramones, David Bowie, or Blondie. Though for some reason and only until very recently, VGM was much less accessible. I’m happy to see that this is making a full turn around, and this music is finally becoming more available. Sometimes you need to crank Mega Man 2
Prior to the past few years, VGM fans were forced to either scour YouTube for soundtracks, only to find them taken down at a later date due to copyright infringement. You could pirate music but that’s illegal and it could potentially bring along some wonderful viruses to your computer. The other option was to import CDs from Japan which was both pricey and space consuming. My overall impatience with waiting also has been exacerbated by the ability to stream any song I want at any time. While services like Spotify were filled with all sorts of covers of VGM, if you want the real thing you no longer have to wade through thousands of versions of the World Map theme from Final Fantasy VII. It’s just…there.
I’m always curious as to what the hold up is. I gather that much of these decisions are hard to make due to licensing, composer royalties, and possible differences in international copyright law. It has been much easier to find Western developed game music on streaming services and I think that’s great! There’s so much great Western video game music out there, but sometimes I want to soak in the glory of the Final Fantasy Tactics OST.
I think it’s a great thing and If I can continue to make playlists that jump from Punk Rock to Synthwave to Heavy Metal to Jazz to VGM. Ultimately, I feel that it’s important for music of all styles and genres to be accessible for those who want to listen. I also helps a lot when looking to make playlists for Dungeons and Dragons campaigns!
I’m really happy that Square Enix put their music up and it’s fairly easy to find. I hope that other game companies continue this trend because VGM has been more celebrated now that it may have ever been! Video game concerts have sell out crowds and fan-made remixes of classic songs are plentiful on streaming services. Fan arranged tracks are sometimes equally as interesting as OSTs and they can often represent a different take on some our favorites. I hope that as more OSTs are available, it will inspire new generations of composers to write their own music or give us their version of some of the classics! I’m excited to see more from every corner, but also would like to see more OSTs from publishers (Like Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger, and Chrono Cross from Square!). Hey, Nintendo, put your stuff on Spotify!
Go explore these streaming services and let me know what some of your favorites are!