Music and gaming are becoming increasingly aligned in the streaming age.
Reactional Music is one company building its presence in the industry. It recently secured more than $2 million of funding, which will be used to scale up its beta programme for games developers.
Reactional Music’s interactive technology brings gaming and the soundtrack even closer together. The start-up enables players to enjoy an immersive music experience that reacts in real-time - a character’s moves and weaponry, for instance, can sync with the beats of a song.
A landmark deal with Hipgnosis has opened up its song catalogue to gamers and developers. Reactional will continue to expand its licensing operations as the platform grows.
Here David Knox, Reactional Music co-founder and president, shares his vision for how music and gaming can work together to create new monetisation opportunities…
What was the original vision for the company - why did you want to bring gaming and music together?
“So much in gaming has changed. The technologies that underpin gaming now enable incredibly realistic interactive experiences that are delivered around the gamer. However, music and sound have remained largely unchanged in how they are created and delivered in games. We know that many gamers turn the sound off and stream their own music while playing. This music is passive and has little or no place or relevance within the game.
“With Reactional, we wanted to enable developers to change the way gamers can experience, interact with and enjoy music. We do this by allowing any music to be brought into a game and to come together with the visuals and sound effects to react to gameplay in real-time, something that has not been possible before. This enables so much to be created and explored in music and sound for developers, creators and music artists.”
How will the recent funding round support the development and growth of Reactional Music?
“Much of the recent investment will be used to gradually scale up Reactional’s beta programme for games developers. We are doing this in a stepped process to ensure that the platform is ready for mass market access by the end of 2023. Some of the funding will also go towards scaling our team across development, technical support and music supervision, as well as towards continuing to expand our licensing operations.”
We believe we will begin to see a new emerging creative and commercial ecosystem for music and games to work together
What licensing partnerships are you establishing with labels and music publishers, and how will this expand?
“We have been talking to rights-holders for two years and have already signed multiple commercial, production and publishing agreements, including our recent landmark partnership with Hipgnosis Song Management. We plan to carry on growing our licensing operations as the platform grows.
“Our message has always been about sharing revenue equally with all stakeholders, and our partners and the music rights holders, publishers and artists we talk to and work with are incredibly engaged in what we have been building. As we all know, music licensing can be a complex process, but throughout we have seen an understanding that if we all work together, if we understand the needs of the games industry and the music industry, the games developer and the artist, a new economy for music personalisation can be developed and thrive.”
How will the Reactional Engine roll out for gamers and music fans - where will they be able to use it?
“The Reactional Engine is already used in Garden of the Sea, a Playstation and Playstation VR game, and powers an interactive music experience at the Avicii museum in Stockholm. We have also been working on several pilot projects with developers over the last 18 months as part of our beta programme. Gamers will soon have even wider access to our technology when the platform launches commercially later this year.”
What are the opportunities for the music industry in terms of reaching a gaming audience? And how significant is the dwell time for gamers and music consumption?
“We know that gamers over-index for music consumption and, after carrying out our own consumer research, we also discovered that over 70% of gamers wanted to be able to personalise their music – creating a massive opportunity for rights-holders. Reactional will act as the bridge that enables this by enabling music to be offered as an in-game purchase, allowing the music industry to tap into an in-game purchase economy worth $130 billion.”
How does the team combine expertise of gaming and music - and how does this help in terms of new deals or partnerships with both sectors?
“We have a unique mix of people at Reactional. The team comes from the top of the games and music businesses, having worked across franchises like Guitar Hero, Grand Theft Auto and FIFA. This gives us an understanding of the commercial challenges of enabling the music and games industries to work together, and their unique business models.
“It’s also important to know that the Reactional Engine comes from a place of music and isn’t just a piece of tech created by engineers. It has been developed by music people and is also used as a composition tool. Jesper Nordin, who created the tech, is a brilliant modern classical composer, and his product team is led by people with extensive experience in games music and sound design and composition, as well as full stack development and UX design.”
What plans do you have for 2023, including any new product launches?
“In 2023 we will carry on working with music rights-holders and expand our beta programme for games developers, as we move towards the launch of our fully self-service music delivery platform. This platform is the really exciting part of Reactional, when gamers will have access to music choice. Developers will be able to set up games for personalisation, allowing the gamer to access different music and sound as an in-game purchase.
“This is when we believe we will begin to see a new emerging creative and commercial ecosystem for music and games to work together. When music becomes part of the gaming experience, giving it relevance and place in the game play, this is when we really take the next step.”