New deal could clear game musician strife

Conflict between a musicians union, its members and games companies moved towards resolution yesterday, following a deal between the American Federation of Musicians and Microsoft.

Following 18 months of negotiations, Microsoft agreed a deal with the AFM to pay a set figure of $300 for a three-hour recording session, and use the music without restriction across game platforms. But usage in other media, like TV commercials, would require extra payments. According to a report in Variety, the deal could serve as a template for other games companies and musicians, neither of whom are happy with current arrangements.

A previous contract offered by the AFM had been rejected by game publishers, who argued that it was too restrictive. This impasse has affected AFM musicians' ability to work with games companies, and created a freeze in new work. One unnamed game musician described the deal as "a really good first step," but warned that game companies who want unfettered use of musicians' work might baulk at such an agreement.

Leading game composer Austin Wintory, best known for his work on Journey and The Banner Saga, recently released a YouTube video (below) calling for an update to the AFM's rules surrounding video games and describing it as an "untenable situation". The AFM had blocked members from working on video game music, and Wintory faces the possibility of a fine for continuing to work on games.

"It is potentially good news, which even that constitutes an improvement over two years of silence," commented Wintory in a Tweeted message to Polygon. "It's not a silver bullet, but any sign of progress I think can be cause for optimism. But I'm an idealist."

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