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New AFM deal with Microsoft is welcome news for game musicians

American Federation of Musicians and Microsoft reach new deal after 18 months of negotiation

Variety has reported that the American Federation of Musicians and Microsoft have reached an agreement that runs through December 2016 and calls for basic scale wages of $300 per musician for a three-hour session.

AFM president Ray Hair also said that it "allows the game publisher to record a track, use it for that videogame, throughout the franchise and across all platforms for that franchise. That's what they (Microsoft) wanted, and that's what we did. But if music from those games is used in a McDonald's commercial, or in any other medium, such as movie or TV show, that requires an additional payment."

The hope is that this new deal could serve as a template for other game companies and musicians, who've been quite frustrated with the current arrangement. Noted game composer Austin Wintory has been the most vocal musician on the subject, publicly requesting that the AFM change its rules around video games. AFM had restricted some members from working on video game music, and Wintory said he could be facing a fine of $50,000 for simply working on what he loves.

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

Another prominent game composer who wished to stay anonymous labeled the deal "a really good first step," but cautioned Variety that not all of the other publishers would agree to similar terms because some may insist on free use of the music for all future uses including things like licensing or inclusion in films.

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James Brightman avatar
James Brightman: James Brightman has been covering the games industry since 2003 and has been an avid gamer since the days of Atari and Intellivision. He was previously EIC and co-founder of IndustryGamers and spent several years leading GameDaily Biz at AOL prior to that.
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