EA bows music publishing biz with Cherry Lane

After years of licensing tracks from the major labels, vidgame giant Electronic Arts is getting into the music biz.

Company is launching a music publishing venture in conjunction with Cherry Lane Music Publishing. Dubbed Next Level Music, it won’t produce albums, but it will sign new artists and acquire catalogs to exploit across its videogames and license to other media.

Music has become a growing part of the game industry, with hip-hop label Def Jam lending its name to a series of hit game titles, and game soundtracks often feature top artists. Rockstar Games and Interscope Records are producing an eight-CD box set featuring music from “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.”

Game publishers also work with labels to debut songs on game soundtracks, essentially breaking new artists or reintroducing older ones on a PlayStation instead of radio. EA has bowed songs from new and established artists including Good Charlotte and Green Day in its games.

“This is a step to invest more into our own intellectual property,” said Steve Schnur, EA’s worldwide executive of music. “We’ve recognizing, just as film companies do, that music can be a significant asset.”

In addition to signing new artists to break in games, Next Level Music will license the original themes EA has produced over the years for use in movies, TV and other media, and as ringtones.

Schnur said Next Level will work with its artists to connect them with major labels to produce albums after the songs debut on a videogame. “We’ll be breaking them in front of a massive global audience, which gives them great momentum to sign a record deal.”

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