Electronic Arts To Sell Video Game Music As Downloads

Scores from 'Medal of Honor' series and others may even become music videos.

The theme from "Medal of Honor" isn't just for fighting through Europe and the Pacific anymore. Video game publishing giant Electronic Arts announced Friday (November 4) that the company is partnering with the Nettwerk Music Group to release music from three dozen of EA's biggest games as digital downloads.

By the end of the year, the original soundtracks from games such as "Medal of Honor," "SSX" and "The Sims" will be available to purchase for cell phones and MP3 players through digital stores such as AOL Music, iTunes, MSN, Rhapsody and Yahoo! Music.

The eclectic lineup will include Just Blaze's beats from "NBA Live 2004," Paul Oakenfold's score for "GoldenEye" and old-school tracks from the "Command and Conquer" games. EA won't be selling music licensed for the company's hit games, instead offering only material commissioned specifically for the titles (so don't expect Green Day's "America Idiot" from last year's "Madden").

According to EA, the move is being made because the company realizes gamers strongly identify with the scores and jingles that reverberate from their gaming systems. "What was once two notes from 'Jaws' and seven notes from 'Star Wars' is now another's 'Sims' theme or 'Medal of Honor' theme," said Steve Schnur, Executive of Music and Music Marketing at EA.

Those who doubt the hit potential of video game theme songs probably haven't seen Billboard's Hot Ringtones chart lately, where Koji Kondo has sat right near the top for 55 weeks. Who's Koji Kondo? He composed the theme for "Super Mario Bros.," which ranks this week right between the Black Eyed Peas and Bow Wow featuring Ciara.

Schnur said he plans for new EA soundtracks to be available as soon as a game is released, maybe even a month or two early when situations permit. The releases will be strictly digital, he said. "If feedback in the future tells us to print a CD — great. But right now we think that's pretty old-school."

With Apple promoting the new video aspect of its iPods and iTunes service, it seems natural to wonder if EA would expand its deal and release the material as music videos. "I think it's a great idea," Schnur said. "I don't see why we wouldn't take advantage of iTunes and their latest initiative and create little mini-movies." He said he could picture game footage being married to game music, with the EA music videos being released through the likes of iTunes or even for cell phones.

As the head of music for EA, Schnur's vision can steer not just what gamers playing EA games hear but how music develops across the industry. While he is excited to be promoting the idea of digital downloads to give gamers access to music outside of their games, he said the potency of digital downloads and online connectivity augur even greater possibilities for the next generation of online-oriented consoles like the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.

Publishers already offer the ability to download roster updates for sports teams. But picture, he said, the ability to download new music for "Madden" three months after buying the game.

"I think we're going to look back on games from 2003 and 2004 and realize how — while we pride ourselves on how the quality of music deepened itself — I think we're going to learn how comparatively linear they really were," he said. "I think it's going to be comparative to the way we look at graphics from PS1 to PS2, we're going to look at the music from PS2 to PS3 and go, 'Wow, what an improvement.' "

EA soundtracks available for digital downloads by the end of 2005:

  • Rupert Gregson-Williams - "Battlefield 2: Modern Combat"

  • Sean Callery - "James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing"

  • Various artists - "Command & Conquer"

  • Mikael Sandgren & Bill Brown - "Command & Conquer Generals"

  • Mikael Sandgren & Bill Brown - "Command & Conquer Generals: Zero Hour"

  • Various artists - "Command & Conquer Red Alert"

  • Various artists - "Command & Conquer Red Alert 2"

  • Various artists - "Command & Conquer Renegade"

  • Various artists - "Command & Conquer Tiberian Sun"

  • Paul Oakenfold - "FIFA Soccer 2005"

  • Chris Lennertz - "From Russia With Love"

  • Paul Oakenfold - "GoldenEye: Rogue Agent"

  • Bill Brown - "The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-Earth"

  • Trevor Jones - "Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects"

  • Michael Giacchino - "Medal of Honor"

  • Michael Giacchino - "Medal of Honor Allied Assault"

  • Christopher Lennertz - "Medal of Honor European Assault"

  • Michael Giacchino - "Medal of Honor Frontline"

  • Christopher Lennertz - "Medal of Honor Pacific Assault"

  • Christopher Lennertz - "Medal of Honor Rising Sun"

  • Michael Giacchino - "Medal of Honor Underground"

  • Photek - "MVP Baseball 2004"

  • Joe Satriani - "NASCAR 06: Total Team Control"

  • Just Blaze - "NBA Live 2004"

  • Cool n Dre - "NBA Live 2005"

  • Da Riffs - "NBA Live 06"

  • Paul Linford - "Need for Speed Most Wanted"

  • Jim Latham - "Need for Speed Underground"

  • Various artists - "The Sims"

  • Mark Mothersbaugh - "The Sims 2"

  • Mark Mothersbaugh remixes - "The Sims 2 Nightlife"

  • Mark Mothersbaugh - "The Sims 2 University"

  • Various artists - "SSX"

  • X-Ecutioners - "SSX 3"

  • BT - "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005"

  • Supreme Beings of Leisure - "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06"