As was partially predicted by the British trade press last week, Electronic Arts officials have announced a new joint venture between the company and Cherry Lane Music Publishing, to form a new joint-ownership company named Next Level Music.
The new company will apparently "sign established as well as emerging new artists, acquire publishing catalogs, produce original music and further develop EA’s rich catalogue of music." The music will be used throughout Electronic Arts’ roster of titles, with Cherry Lane handling the compositions and master recordings.
Next Level will also license Electronic Arts’ existing music assets, already including music from Mark Mothersbaugh, Paul Oakenfold, Mya and others, to commercials, films, film trailers, ring tones and other media. Cherry Lane itself owns around 100,000 song copyrights, and enjoys a roster of artists ranging from Black Eyed Peas to Elvis Presley.
Despite some consumers complaining at the sometimes narrow range of tunes used as part of the company’s EA TRAX initiative, Electronic Arts has, together with Take-Two/Rockstar, helped to pioneer the use of licensed music in video games, often claiming to 'break' bands via appearances in games such as the popular Madden NFL
The 'licensed soundtrack' concept had seemed to be under some threat from custom soundtrack options in certain Xbox titles, but if the next generation of consoles do not have a hard drive as standard, it is likely that the use of new and recognizable licensed music will become ever more important to both the games and music industry.