Popular PC game Fortnite may have to start paying artists for using their music after a number of them are demanding to get their share of royalties in light of new copyright laws.
Source: Epic Games
PRS for Music, an organization that ensures songwriters, composers, and publishers are paid when their work is used anywhere around the world, said that royalty payments hit a record-breaking £746 million (close to USD 1 billion) in 2018 — a definite win for the music industry. However, they are contemplating whether to start making licensing deals with online games like Fortnite which is known to feature music from well-known artists through Music Islands.
In an interview with the Guardian, chief executive of PRS for Music Robert Ashcroft said that the new European Copyright Directive has paved the way for online gaming to be a source of music royalty revenue for the first time.
“We currently license a lot of digital services, like YouTube music, already anyway,” Ashcroft said. “It is really important for us to have a level playing field for these services that we don’t yet have licenses, such as music used in the massively multiplayer online gaming market, like Fortnite. That is one of the areas we will be looking at. Does that fall within the new provisions of the law? Is that an opportunity [for licensing revenues]? [The new law] clarifies the liability of key technology platforms to pay for their use of copyright material.”
This comes after artist Marshmello staged the first-ever in-game concert back in February 2019, dubbed “the biggest moment in Fortnite’s history,” when 10.7 million users went online to watch it. Weezer also managed to use the game to promote their 13th studio album, Black Album.
“The massive multiplayer gaming platforms: their audience is absolutely enormous, with young people watching gameplay and listening to music streamed there,” Ashcroft told Music Ally in a separate interview. “These are the things that we are obviously looking at and working out what the best route forward is. And that’s why it was so important to get that copyright directive passed. It makes it clear that if you’re hosting this content, you have to get a license.”
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