If you have a life outside of the Internet, then there’s a good chance that you haven’t heard of singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey. In that case, consider yourself introduced.
Del Rey, the handle of one Lizzy Grant, has become a figure of infamy within the online music world with unprecedented speed. Between the highly stylized videos, the songs about video games, Diet Mountain Dew and shooting her boyfriend in the head, the accusations of her image being a well managed concoction, the hipster baiting and”most importantly” those lips, it’s hard not to have an opinion about her.
For I Fight Dragons, all those years smashing buttons in mom’s basement may have finally paid off. Faced with the task of standing out in an increasingly crowded sea of pop rock acts, these Chicagoans channeled their childhood love of video games into a truly unique sound. Billing themselves as “Chicago’s finest (and quite possibly only) NES-Rock band,” the members of I Fight Dragons incorporate old Game Boy and Nintendo Entertainment System sounds into their catchy, impeccably written rock tunes. So far, it seems like their formula is working. I Fight Dragons have toured with national acts like 3OH!3, Cobra Starship and Travis McCoy, and are set to release their debut full-length album Kaboom! this fall. While the band is surely influenced by many different video game songs, it’s possible that the antics of a certain pixelated duck had a profound influence on how the group’s sound evolved.
Based on the popular animated TV show DuckTales, the 1989 DuckTales video game was a classic 8-bit, side-scrolling adventure for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Though the game’s bright graphics and intuitive gameplay were its main selling points, the true star of the game was its music. Composer Yoshihiro Sakaguchi, who had already worked with Capcom on the first two Mega Man titles, made his most lasting mark on 8-bit music with the creation of DuckTales‘ “Moon Level” theme. While some video game themes were atmospheric (Metroid) or orchestral (The Legend of Zelda), Sakaguchi’s “Moon Level” theme was a straightforward pop rock gem. The song is so well-loved that fans created a Facebook group to honor it, and a YouTube search for “DuckTales The Moon” results in scores of instrumental covers of Sakaguchi’s composition.
“Heads Up, Hearts Down” – I Fight Dragons
Lights! Camera! Action! Remember when we were younger and believed that those words were the biggest part of filming a movie, commercial, or TV series? Now that we’re older, we know there are many more factors involved in the production of such projects, especially when it comes to soundtracks. This week’s Generation DIY is all about music supervision and ways you can get your music into new films, commercials and TV episodes that are currently in production.
First things first, when it comes to getting your music placed it is important to have it mastered professionally. This is the big leagues we’re talking about. Music placement not only means a relatively generous payout but also equals worldwide promotion, so don’t give these music supervisors basement recordings. A minimal searchs for music supervisors yields many useful sites. One that I’ve referred to before is Music Supervisor Guide, which has listings for many hot TV shows as well as video games, movies and advertising (Note: you have to sign up and pay in order to use). If you do plan on paying for a Web site, then I’d suggest joining BMI, SESAC or ASCAP and license your music through these organizations. Since they have good reputations behind them, you will be able to land some better opportunities, but again, this is the big league so make sure you are ready.
If you are looking to do it all on your own, as all of us DIYers do, then pick up some books on the subject and interview some music supervisors to get a better idea of what you need to do to make that connection. One contact I made through my travels was David Weiss and David Hnatiuk who wrote and published the book Music Supervision: The Complete Guide To Selecting Music For Movies, TV, Games & New Media. This is a great book to pick up to get a better understanding on how this industry works and what music supervisors are looking for. Be sure to check out their Web site to learn more about this great group.
Hopefully some of this information gets the wheels turning and pushes you in the right direction. As always, I want to hear your suggestions, comments, success stories and anything else that you would like to share.
This is YOUR year. Let’s make it count.
Like a lot of rappers out there, Brooklyn-born Wordspit didn’t grow up behind a white picket fence. With a drug-addled mother and a hustler/musician father, his childhood was anything but idyllic. Writing became comfort, then the basis for a career. But if your first introduction to Wordspit was Joystick Madness, you’d have no inkling that there were any skeletons in his closet. Eight-bit bleeps provide the back beat of the song, which is basically an homage to the arcade delivered at warp speed. It’s often hard to catch exactly what Wordspit is saying; his delivery is that fast. But when you do, you’ll be impressed by his knack for clever metaphors. As he wages battle with the joystick, his video opponents see stars like Hollywood Boulevard and lose energy like Enron. Come on, that’s pretty funny.
It isn’t until Chop Suey, a remix of the System of a Down hit, that Wordspit’s demons emerge. These are more than just words, he raps tremulously. This is my pain, my fight. For all the fast talk about video games and school day nostalgia, Wordspit doesn’t try to hide his depth. And for that he gets the high score.
We’re all familiar with Rock Band”you know, that awesome game that allows you to vicariously live through legendary rock stars no matter how tone deaf you may be. Until now, the Rock Band catalog has been limited to pretty well known songs, and predominantly marketed towards music fans, not musicians. Enter Rock Band Network, the groundbreaking new idea from Harmonix Systems and MTV Games that gives musicians and record labels the ability to author their own original recordings into gameplay files and sell their music as playable Rock Band tracks through the newly-created Rock Band Network Music Store. That’s right. Any solo musician or band, at any point in their career, who has a master recording can insert the track into the enormously popular video game, which is available to millions of users nationwide.
Face it, music is essential in gaming. And it goes without saying that this game is centered around music, music that could belong to you! Yes, there are a few flaming tech hoops to jump through, and publishers must pay a required fee of $49.99 for four months or $99.99 for a year to become a member of Microsoft’s XNA Creators club. But, the marketing potential makes the maze-like navigation well worth the pains. Artists even control their own pricing, and can set their track anywhere between 50 cents and 3 dollars receiving 30% of sales. The beta platform is scheduled to launch in late August and offer detailed instructions on how bands can convert their master tracks into gameplay files. Study up here for some explanation and here for a tutorial video before it goes live!
Hey! You! Put that video game controller down and get over here! I’ve got something that might interest you…
Today, in the Boston Globe, OurStage band Vivian Darkbloom was featured for an unusual choice of musical equipment. Guitarist Rob Morris has fashioned a Wii Remote (the controller for the popular Nintendo Wii game console) to his guitar as a means for controlling his effect usage. He uses the remote’s motion-sensing capabilities to allow the tilting of his guitar, as fed through computer software, to control how his guitar sounds.