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Steve Schnur, Worldwide Executive of EA Music Group
April 17, 2015
by Whitney Parsons

Movies, television, and commercial advertisements are probably the first media outlets that come to mind when we consider where to license music. But we can’t forget about the global gaming world that holds a captive audience of more than 1 BILLION people. Steve Schnur, Worldwide Executive of EA Music Group and President of Artwerk Music Publishing, recently shared with us some insightful information about the abundant opportunities present in this gaming world and the integral role music plays in it.

For 14 years, Steve has been responsible for EA game soundtracks; “deciding what songs go into each game’s soundtrack, overseeing original music scores, and developing the company’s overall global music vision.” His team has “introduced some of the hottest bands in the world, including Franz Ferdinand, Good Charlotte, Jet, Ozomatli, Black Keys, OK Go, Chromeo, Kasabian, Bloc Party, Imagine Dragons, Grouplove, Avenged Sevenfold, Arctic Monkeys, Kings Of Leon, K’naan, Foster The People, CHVRCHES, Robyn, MGMT and more – to unprecedented audiences through the two biggest and best sports game franchises in history (Madden and FIFA).”

A game’s soundtrack isn’t just background noise slotted in ‘just because.’ The music plays a key role in the overall quality of the game. “Creating a great soundtrack is, in essence, defining a game’s audio personality. Every song on every soundtrack must enhance the overall gaming experience, taking both the gameplay and emotional tone to another level. Each song must make you want to score higher, hit harder, drive faster.”

So how does Steve and his talented EA team go about finding the perfect music to create these audio personalities? They foster ongoing relationships with talented composers all over the world (including Hans Zimmer, Mark Mothersbaugh, Chris Lennertz, Steve Jablonsky, Ramin Djawadi, Trevor Morris and Oscar-winner Mike Giacchino) and work with live orchestration as much as possible, including The London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios. But 95% of the music placed in EA games, Steve noted, comes from “new artists and composers who are original, unafraid to take risks and understand the unique relationship between music, gaming and the international gaming community.”
Steve and his team “listen to a lot of music, see a lot of bands, and track independent scenes and underground movements all over the world.” Though, for legal reasons, EA cannot accept unsolicited demos, they continue to search out and work with new performers and composers that bring passion and energy to the table. “If the music is out there, (EA) will find it.”

When it comes to original compositions, Steve’s goal is to score games with the same passion and talent that Hollywood does. He wants video games to be seen as having “the same influence and prominence of blockbuster movie soundtracks and scores.” And though EA has always been about “meeting – and more importantly, surpassing– all technical and creative expectations,” Steve acknowledges that the continued development of new creative and financial platforms also means that vigilance in “protecting and respecting individual rights and revenues” is evermore important. “It’s the only way to guarantee continued synchronicity and creative growth. Services like Gideen that align economic interests between artists, marketers and users are a great start.”

Steve is constantly looking to the future and believes that “within the next 10 years, (EA’s) ability to create, expose and discover new music of every genre will be beyond anything the industry or the consumer has ever known before.” In next year’s Madden, for example, EA plans to bring back licensed music in a way that’s never been done. They are “exploring customized playlists in which each game becomes a personally programmed musical event,” that you can easily “lift out of the game and into your listening device.” They plan to “license more new music from unsigned and developing artists, work with more major bands and sports league tie-ins, and are planning epic new original scores from the world’s most gifted composers.

Serious, talented, dedicated music creators, are you catching this? There are ways to get your music out there, reaching new fans and bringing in revenue! EA is a major, global platform that supports you and will continue to do so. Your job is to create amazing music, network, and expose that music to as wide an audience as possible. Steve will be looking for your music. Don’t make it hard for him to find you!

Thank you Steve for sharing such amazing, insightful information!

Find Steve on LinkedIn


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