If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

SingStar music licensing is fair, insists Sony

Record companies are getting "reasonable" fees says SingStar exec

Sony's SingStar director Dave Ranyard has insisted that music companies get a fair deal when licensing songs to the popular karaoke series.

A number of music industry executives have complained that fees are low for music games in general, with Warner Music's CEO Edgar Bronfman labelling them "paltry" and suggesting his company would not support publishers who don't pay higher rates.

"I've been involved with music licensing for a really long time, and my philosophy has always been, 'Don't pay nothing, and don't pay crazy'," said Ranyard, speaking to GamesIndustry.biz. "Pay people a reasonable amount for what you're doing, and that's what I'm doing."

"From the deals that I've done, I don't believe it is. [Bronfman] could be talking about other people. I think some licences have different stages, so it depends on how big you are and how many you've sold. So I think if you were to draw that out as a graph, I think there might be pockets that are less favourable," offered Ranyard.

Ranyard took control of the SingStar brand following the departure of Paulina Bozek to Atari last year, and the series has so far sold 17 million units and over four million song downloads.

With music brands such as Guitar Hero, Rock Band and Lips fighting for consumer spending – and even more titles currently in development – Ranyard believes the competition will help drive innovation in the genre.

"Competition's not always a bad thing, you know? It's swings and roundabouts in a way. Me personally, I do feel competition, but I feel it's very healthy at the moment. We're not into some kind of negative competition cycle. If you compare it to other games or other products, really, competition drives innovation. So from that point of view, I don't worry about it.

"And also, we've got some good USPs that we're really pleased about like the community and Store, which are unique to our experience, so I'm really confident about those," added Ranyard.

Although there is an element of exclusivity creeping in to the genre – most notably with Activision's Guitar Hero Metallica and Aerosmith spin-offs – Ranyard doesn't see exclusive deals stifling music games in the future.

"That does come up a lot, but I think exclusivity deals aren't going to cover the majority of content, because you always have to pay extra for that exclusivity," he said.

"It's almost like you're getting an endorsement or something. That's how I see it. It does come into it - I won't say that it doesn't - but I don't think all the music games are going to start going, 'Right we're only having you and nobody else can have you for 25 years', because it doesn't make business sense to do that.

"There might be shorter windows for exclusivity and things like that, but at the moment it's still quite healthy. There's still quite a lot of content, new and old, that is relatively untapped."

A full interview with Dave Ranyard can be read on our sister site Eurogamer.net.

Topics in this article

Follow topics and we'll email you when we publish something new about them.  Manage your notification settings.

Matt Martin avatar

Matt Martin


Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.