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The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

I've thought about this issue every once in a while but a certain catalyst (see end of post) brought it up in my mind again.

The earliest memory I can remember of actually paying attention to video game music is about maybe... 15-20 years ago. My first console was a Sega Master System that didn't work which lead to me (or rather my parents since I was a child) buying my first working console which was a Nintendo Entertainment System. Eventually I got the original Legend of Zelda RPG and inevitably, that lead to the situation where I left the game on the first screen just so I could listen to the super-catchy overworld theme. After doing what I would now consider impossible/very difficult (finishing that game), I noticed that although the names in the staff roll had English letters in them, they didn't sound English to me. That lead to the discovery that most of the games at the time that were even remotely decent were Japanese in origin, and similarly, if the music for a particular game was not shit (i.e. it actually sounds like music), then 99% it's Japanese too.

So began my foray into Japanese game music. Similar to the case of Legend of Zelda's Overworld Theme, I can recall leaving the game idle on Fire Man's stage of Mega Man 1 just to listen to the music. Then came the Super Nintendo and Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, where I was impressed by the Overworld Theme which has now been upgraded to the SNES' sound chip. Similarly, Mega Man got upgraded into Mega Man X. I can also remember after finishing the introduction stage (the Highway) and reaching the Stage Select screen for the first time, the first thing I did was leave the game idle because the Stage Select theme was too awesome.

Like other people in this forum, I also recorded video game music onto a tape (if you don't know what a tape is, then I'm your senior) using the TV's speakers as the sound source. I think the first game I did this with was Breath of Fire 2. I was also a reasonably early adopter of the Internet and I attempted to find .mp3s of music from Mega Man X3 (Napster existed during this time) but all I got was .midis, which were good enough. Some of you oldies should remember that Video Game Music .midi collection site too. Interestingly, now that I think about it, Mega Man X, Breath of Fire 2 and especially Mega Man X3 have one thing in common: synth guitars. That's probably my earliest memory of liking anything remotely heavy rock/metal (probably my favourite genre today).

Then came the PlayStation 1 (even better sound quality), the PlayStation 2 (the point where I feel that video game music is no longer technically limited) and so on and so forth until now.

It's worth noting that back then and especially now, I listened to video game music to the exclusion of everything else. I could never get into mainstream music. Early on, I liked pop music, but that's stating the obvious since pop music is short for "popular music" which is intended to be "manufactured" to be likable by almost everyone. I also couldn't bring myself to consider the human voice (i.e. singing) as a musical instrument. There's nothing wrong with singing per se and I don't dislike it, but whenever I liked a mainstream vocal song, I get bored of it very easily and quickly. In contrast, I can still listen to good video game music that are 10 or more years old.

So now we're at 2012. From my point of view, not much has changed at all. Mainstream music is still boring mainstream music and video game music still doesn't get talked about on an individual level and doesn't get the respect it deserves.

From my understanding, video game music is considered niche even in Japan, the pioneers of good video game music. If game music is niche in Japan (and the game music market reflecting the nicheness), then what does that say about the video game music market in Western countries?

Until relatively recently, when it comes game music and the Western World, there seems to be four perceptions of the role of game music:

1) The game music is just there to fill the silence.
2) Licensed "game music" (just random mainstream songs copied and pasted onto games, instead of being specially composed for the game e.g. Need For Speed).
3) Custom soundtracks (a feature that started and was popularised with the original Microsoft Xbox)
4) Orchestral music (easily digestible yet extremely bland Hollywood-style music) (I'm excluding Kou Otani's Shadow of the Collosus obviously which I consider one of the few exceptions)

What all this indicates or might point to is that video game music isn't taken seriously. The "video game music market" or the number of video game music fans aren't large enough to warrant paying attention to. Some evidence that might support this view include:

1) People have complained about how Nintendo does not officially release their soundtracks for sale individually, instead opting to have them available for purchase via the Points system. A possible reason is that the video game music market simply isn't large enough to cover the costs of individual soundtrack retail releases.
2) People have also complained about how some soundtracks come as part of a set with the game (or anime in the case of anime soundtracks) "forcing" them to buy the soundtrack along with the game they didn't really want. Similarly, the most possible explanation is that there is simply not enough demand to warrant individual releases. Video game music is already considered niche, let alone that particular product, which is even more niche.

A recent occurrence to counter the above are digital download services like iTunes which I imagine, has significantly lower costs when it comes to putting a product out in the market. That's not going to ease the minds of people who desire physical products with cover art etc... but that's another story.

The topics in my mind are disorganised at the moment but what are your views on the "video game music market"? Are "they" (video game music fans) as numerous as they claim they are? Is this market going to shrink or grow in the future? What is the future of "real" video game music? And what is the future of how video game music is perceived by the general public? Feel free to answer any questions I didn't ask.

As someone who values and only listens to game music, I would like the market to grow, become mainstream and allow consumers to reward musicians like Nobuo Uematsu with lots of money because he deserves it. On the other hand, if the video game music market becomes mainstream, then inevitably, existing and future game musicians may consider composing "safe" and riskless music in order to maximise the amount of ears that listen to it either by their own volition or by being pressured by accountants/marketers, instead of using their own creativity to create the unique styles of music at present and past. In other words, game music as I know and love will become something I won't like.

Currently, I note the deserved or undeserved backlash against Japanese Role Playing Games and to a lesser extent (but still seemingly significant extent) Japanese-developed games in general. If less people are spending money on Japanese games, I can't help but feel that this will have an indirect negative impact on Japanese game music composers. This decreasing quantity of Western taste for Japanese games, rising costs in game development along with the perpuatual stagnant state of the Japanese economy (then again, pretty much every economy in the world is shit right now, so they're hardly unique in that aspect) possibly means a decrease in Japanese game market share which may lead to less projects for Japanese game musicians.

I also note the current practice of companies like Konami and Capcom "outsourcing" the development of their games to a Western company. In cases like Silent Hill and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, the music composition duties were replaced by Westerners too. Whether that is a good thing for long-time fans of Akira Yamaoka or Michiru Yamane/Konami's Sound Team can be debated. Musically, I would lean towards no.

In regards to the prospects of growing the video game music market, consumers and businesses can be blamed. The vast majority of video game music soundtracks on the Internet (especially eBay) are pirated bootlegs. Businesses are to blame for not actively seeking to remove those listings from eBay (eBay only acts when the original copyright holder makes that request). Consumer and consumer education are to blame for continually buying those goddamn bootlegs (just checked the eBay's completed transaction history). I genuinely find it infuriating. Having said that, I acknowledge that the reason those bootlegs exist on eBay (and the reason most Japanese soundtracks remain Japanese) is because, as I mentioned many times before in this thread, the Western video game music market is simply too niche, too small and too insignificant to pay attention to. It's a simple cost/benefit equation. And the reason customers buy bootlegs is because they can't exactly go into their local CD shop (or even online) to buy it, because they don't exist there. I guess it's a bit of a chicken and egg scenario. Consumers buy bootlegs because Japanese businesses won't sell the soundtracks overseas. Japaneses businesses won't sell the soundtrack overseas because the quantity of consumers aren't enough to justify the costs.

Now, you may note that a community such as this is proof of the viability of the video game music market. Unfortunately, this is simply the Internet phenomenon of people with like-interests coming and congregating in the same location. In the end. it's alway the same old regulars posting with the occasional 3-post poster who registers, posts on the same day, and then leaves forever never to login a second time.

One exception to the above sentiments are game-related orchestral concerts which while they have existed in Japan for quite a while (Dragon Quest is an early one), only recently did they start appearing in the Western world.

My predictions are that video game music will continue being niche. Video game music will still be regarded by the general public at best "music to fill in the silence" or not regarded at all. The actual video game music market (people who buy video game music) will remain similarly niche and small. Those wishing to buy retail Nintendo soundtrack CDs or wishing to buy enclosure soundtrack CDs separately might as well give up and get them the hard way unless they can prove to businesses that their numbers are large enough to consider giving them what they way (individual retail soundtracks).

Unfortunately, CDs will probably become phased out and be replaced by digital downloads. Japanese game music companies have two choices when it comes to international sales: none (because the Western video game music market isn't large enough to cover the costs of distributing CDs) or digital download. So digital download it is. On the bright side, bootleg CDs sellers will no longer be able to make profits from game music CDs since consumers at this point have expectations of paid downloads and will not even think of buying a CD.

Assuming that Western developers continue growing and Western tastes for Japanese games decreases, and assuming the Japanese economy in general remains stagnant (which means there is less appetite for risk) then Japanese companies that are not big (e.g. not Konami, Capcom, Square-Enix) will give up the idea of trying to develop games for Western tastes (see the aforementioned risk) and simply develop for the established home market (less risky). Similarly, Japanese game musicians will continue doing what they are doing before and that is creating good video game music without any possible negative influence or impact from the mainstreaming of game music (which doesn't happen).

Again, I note that this entire thread is a mish-mash of topics yet inter-related but I hope you have somehow made some sense of what I'm trying to say. Take all of the above as you will.

Finally, here's the catalyst of this thread: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi … 0792248687

If the video game music market was not small, then the ending price would've been much higher. I realise that game music is niche, and the Saga (Romancing/Frontier) series are even more niche, and that this might be a one-off freak accident, but that's too goddamn cheap goddamnit.

Last edited by layzee (May 7, 2012)

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

It is very true that people aren't paying for music. And if people aren't paying for their mainstream music they like, it's not like they're going to pay for music they prefer only hearing when playing a videogame. A telling example was when I was in high school and my teacher asked the class how many of us pay for music and only 3 hand went up. At the time I was primarily listening to ocremix/animeremix/c64 remixes and vgm from slightlydark.com. I too may have ended up continuing down and living out a soulless mp3 life had it not been for two events (new car losing cassette player to connect mp3 player to) and an amigacore musician (Stagediver/Dispyz) I stumbled on at some mp3 website (micromusic.com) whose music I really liked convincing me to buy vinyl and then later himself releasing his niche music on vinyl.

I think that asking people at ocremix.org and other sites where people listen to vgm on how many buy it as a survey question would be a good start to finding out answers for this thread. Another question we should ask is how many of them would convert? And how hard is it for people to convert others to buying vgm?

The community is probably stagnant. The question I've always had was what is the printrun size for vgm albums. It seems like Japan is avoiding the sales pitch of fear of "limited to 100 copies" stuff. Someone has to have the sales figures to release. How many Neo Contra Original Soundtrack cds were sold? This stuff is interesting and I wish some insider at the label could get us this data. 

Nintendo has all the money in the world to release soundtracks. They could in fact be the company that kick starts selling official standalone soundtracks at places like Gamestop (like the Xenoblade Gamestop exclusive) here in the US. Is it really hard to imagine someone seeing The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Soundtrack at Gamestop and not being intrigued? Now how about a small section filled up with Nintendo soundtracks? Throw on limited edition on the cd sticker and people would buy. Everyone is obsessed with exclusives. It can be done.

That would be a great future of physical soundtrack releases that aren't bootleg sold in malls. It feels like everything is under attack of becoming digitized/online. If games eventually become download only will vgm still be sold as physical media?

On the catalyst: Yesterday I was pissed off that there was no way to get good deals on eBay anymore after I saw everyone bidding on the Resident Evil boxset where it ended up going for $79. I would have outbid that person for Saga Series if I had been paying attention to it.

Last edited by vert1 (May 7, 2012)

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

vert1 wrote:

Yesterday I was pissed off that there was no way to get good deals on eBay anymore

I completely agree. Unless you have that random, one-off chance of finding something you want, you're either going to get bootlegs or really expensive releases from champ_des_pins and otaku.com. I'm sure making money off of VGM is not easy, especially now, but there is no f'n way almost $100 for Ace Combat 04 OST is acceptable.

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

I pretty much agree with everything you say. A few parts I'd like to highlight:

layzee wrote:

4) Orchestral music (easily digestible yet extremely bland Hollywood-style music) (I'm excluding Kou Otani's Shadow of the Collosus obviously which I consider one of the few exceptions)

This. Why do western developers think everything has to be ----ing orchestrated? Orchestration does not impress me at all so it's no wonder why I favor Japanese video game music over the output from other countries despite the fact they have a moment or two every now and then.

layzee wrote:

2) People have also complained about how some soundtracks come as part of a set with the game (or anime in the case of anime soundtracks) "forcing" them to buy the soundtrack along with the game they didn't really want. Similarly, the most possible explanation is that there is simply not enough demand to warrant individual releases. Video game music is already considered niche, let alone that particular product, which is even more niche.

I really haven't encountered this one personally, but if I wanted the soundtrack I'd bite the bullet and buy the game and not worry about the cost but then your talking to someone who paid $40 for 17 tracks from Mega Man Legends 2 on the Capcom Special Selection: Rockman DASH 2 disc which did not include the artbook which I would have loved to have. (Yes, having "Blitzkrieg" and "Geetz" on an official disc was worth that much to me...)

layzee wrote:

Currently, I note the deserved or undeserved backlash against Japanese Role Playing Games and to a lesser extent (but still seemingly significant extent) Japanese-developed games in general.

Nice to see I'm not the only that's noticed the J-PRG is paying for it's time in the sun during the 32-bit era. I wouldn't worry too much about it - that day will be coming for shooters soon enough with the genre's current over saturation. Seriously, people will get sick of shooting things - eventually.

layzee wrote:

In regards to the prospects of growing the video game music market, consumers and businesses can be blamed. The vast majority of video game music soundtracks on the Internet (especially eBay) are pirated bootlegs. Businesses are to blame for not actively seeking to remove those listings from eBay (eBay only acts when the original copyright holder makes that request). Consumer and consumer education are to blame for continually buying those goddamn bootlegs (just checked the eBay's completed transaction history). I genuinely find it infuriating.

This really brings back when I first encountered bootlegs. I purchased Wild Arms 3 (don't ask me why I bought this; I don't like this score) and Final Fantasy Tactics on eBay. When I found out they were bootlegs I was furious although the price should have really tipped me off. Anyway, I wanted to make a fuss over it to eBay but my mother (who eBay account I was using as we were sharing back when they took money orders) didn't want her precious feedback rating to be "tarnished." I tried to explain to her why I was angry and even tried to relate the situation to her (would she have liked to receive a bootleg Hallmark Christmas ornament? I think not...) so I ended up making my own account after that bullshit. Really, ---- her precious feedback rating, the principal behind this matter was WAY more important.

layzee wrote:

One exception to the above sentiments are game-related orchestral concerts which while they have existed in Japan for quite a while (Dragon Quest is an early one), only recently did they start appearing in the Western world.

I'm going to say something I've wanted to say about these concerts for A VERY LONG TIME. Personally - and again this goes back to my whole deal about not caring about orchestration - I DO NOT see what the big deal about these things is. I'm not saying that Nobuo or any other composer they're focused on don't deserve some props but at the end of the day I don't think they're winning the genre any new fans. I'm not terribly interested in hearing the music in a new light beyond what it was intended for in-game. As much as I don't want to admit it the original context is what is important to me.

layzee wrote:

My predictions are that video game music will continue being niche.

I don't know if that's so much a prediction as an easily recognizable fact but I agree with the point.

layzee wrote:

Unfortunately, CDs will probably become phased out and be replaced by digital downloads. Japanese game music companies have two choices when it comes to international sales: none (because the Western video game music market isn't large enough to cover the costs of distributing CDs) or digital download. So digital download it is. On the bright side, bootleg CDs sellers will no longer be able to make profits from game music CDs since consumers at this point have expectations of paid downloads and will not even think of buying a CD..

Seriously, I've mentioned it in the video game thread related to this but as a collector a will absolute despise the day everything is digital. But I'm sure the pirates will find great joy in hacking through all the pointless DRM companies waste their money and time on implementing.

layzee wrote:

Finally, here's the catalyst of this thread: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi … 0792248687

Reminds me of when I got a complete copy of the Brave Fencer Musashi OST off eBay for a measly $10. The only comforting fact about that is it's in the hands of someone who appreciates it.

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

There are video game music fans claiming that there are tons of us? That's news to me. Stating that that video game music fandom is very niche is a no-brainer to me, and I don't see that ever changing. It has had its almost-mainstream moments, like when Koji Hayama's first Cho Aniki soundtrack got on the pop charts, but those incidences are very rare. There's obviously even less of a market and interest outside of Japan, but I wouldn't say that's because Western game music sucks. Even as someone who heavily leans toward Japanese games and Japanese game music, I can still recognize that there is a fair amount of good Western game music, some of it even Japan-inspired, like with Jake Kaufman's soundtracks.

Me, I'm not too worried about the state of game music. I'm more a retro gamer than a modern gamer, so as I play games, I'm always discovering more great game music, some good enough to make me track down a physical soundtrack if such a thing exists. Sometimes it's a challenge finding stuff and sometimes older soundtracks have gotten very expensive, but with patience and communities like this, I can amass a good amount of reasonably priced music. Even if all physical production of new game music ceased this very instant, I could still keep myself happy tracking down old stuff, and it would probably just inspire me to dig into doujin even more, which isn't going anywhere.

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

Wow, that was a really long post! I admit to not reading all of it with careful attention, but the general idea seems to be that video game music is a niche market. I would agree. However, I think it's certainly getting larger, at least so here in the States. I also think that much of this distribution is done digitally. I would far rather have a CD myself, but I would rather have a digital soundtrack to a game I want than no album at all. As long as you can burn the mp3 onto a CD then it's OK even if not ideal in my book. As for Western music in general, it's varies a lot. This notion that "everything is orchestrated" is far from true. I do think that many RPGs and similarly "epic" games are orchestrated, because it fits the bill. As a fan of RPG-ish music, I enjoy it very much, but it's certainly not all "orchestrated". Take a look at Dragon Age Origins. The composer was Inon Zur (Israeli-American by the way) and his taste is nice and eclectic. The soundtrack sure has some epic orchestral moments, but also various guitar melodies that are inspired by Middle Eastern and Indian music.

Anyway, I actually think the video game market now is by far the best it has ever been. If you want the soundtrack to a new game, there's a good chance it will be available. Not that many years ago, your chances of getting the soundtrack were slim to none. So, myself, I am quite happy with how the market is going. Obviously things can and do change, but overall it's far better than it ever was (in my opinion, of course).

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

While I do agree that it's getting harder to find good deals, I grabbed this CD on eBay two weeks ago, just arrived today.  Mint condition and I paid $7.20 shipped for it.  Most people probably think that CD is ass but I've wanted it in my collection for 10 years, so I'm super happy!

Seems like it's even tougher to find bargains or even reasonably priced auctions on YJA these days.  Every album I'm after is 5,000 yen or more, which turns into insanity after fees and exchange rate.  Sad. sad

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

1. Hey, I remember having Zelda on just to listen to the intro music on the infinite loop, too.  Later, when I got my TurboGrafx CD player, I would play the Ys Book I & II CD while I was playing a HuCard game.  I also recorded all of the music from my TG-CD games to cassette as well.

2. The thing that drew me to VGM in the first place was the very strong melody.  In large part, that was due to the technical limitations of the media.  Once that went away, the importance of the melody became less prominent, and I got a little less interested.

3. You know, maybe part of the memorability of early VGM was that sound loops were maybe 45 seconds in length.  To play through a level for six minutes with a 45 second sound loop, you'd listen to it eight times.  Nowadays, if a sound loop is three minutes long, you're only hearing it twice in the same six minutes.  Less repetition => not as memorable. 

4. Back when I started getting into actual VGM CDs (1999 or so), there was essentially no VGM market in the US.  There were a few places that sold new releases (The-Place, AnimeNation, GMO), but if you wanted something older or out of print, your option was to hope that a rare disc would show up on eBay.  Prices got insane on eBay for a while.  Why?  There was pent-up demand, and almost no supply.  Now, the demand may be higher as game music has become slightly more mainstream, but the supply is much higher.  I think there is a much higher chance of finding a great deal on a VGM album on eBay now than on YJA, where the demand is considerably higher.  I have a number of CDs that I've been thinking about selling, but have been asking around to see if anyone in Japan is willing to sell them on YJA for me.  Something like the Sansara Naga 2 album tends to sell for 15,000+ yen on YJA, but I doubt I could get $15 for it on eBay.

5. I don't check eBay for VGM auctions anymore.  Too many bootlegs to weed through, and the selection isn't nearly as good as YJA.  If someone on STC posts a link to auctions they have up, I'll check them out, but otherwise I don't bother.  When I was grad school, I had plenty of time to wade through these auctions (and the supply was much lower, so it didn't take as much time).  Now, I've got a full-time job and a family, and I've got almost all of the CDs that I want already.

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

Thoughts...random as they may be...

Community: I've said many times in the past few years that I think VGM is worse now that it was in the past (although I agree with avatar that AVAILABILITY is probably better than it ever has been). I think what I wanted to say was that there is nothing within the current realm of VGM that unites fans. For the longest time, love or hate him, Nobuo Uematsu was basically the face of VGM. Some loved him, some hated him, but everyone had some kind of opinion on his best/worst works and everyone had heard his Final Fantasy soundtracks. He was (and still is) a great starting point for people just getting into VGM. Nowadays, he's pretty much irrelevant (when was the last online discussion you've seen of his most recent work? Seriously?) and there really isn't another composer that can fill that void. For every Hamauzu, Mizuta or Sakimoto fan, there is another fan that can care less about their entire body of work, so arguing that they've taken over the FF series doesn't quite fill the void. In that sense, it feels like VGM is lacking that one central figure that it once had. In reality, it has been that way for awhile now.

The one community that seems to have gotten bigger, however, is the fan arranged community. It's not unusual for me to meet people and end up discussing stuff over on OCRemix (I don't frequent the site, but I've heard some stuff).

I personally have an issue with a lot of VGM released nowadays, not related to composition quality. The issue is dynamic compression. THESE ARE NOT POP/ROCK CD's, THEY ARE SOUNDTRACKS! Why the hell are they being mastered this freaking loud!? A recent example is the Xenoblade soundtrack. For the type of music it is, the dynamic range is pitiful. It should be quieter and enticing the listener to turn their own volume knob up. I've probably deleted at least 30 soundtracks recently without even listening once I see the decibel level up around 98-99 (usually, well-mastered VGM hovers below 96). So now, not only do I have to worry about actually liking the music, I have to worry about the actual mastering being listenable. I can't even begin to compare the new Falcom to the old Falcom because of this. ALL of their newer soundtracks are loudness war casualties. Ugh...

Bootlegs: There aren't nearly as many as there were about ten years ago. Not nearly as many sellers (most of the ones I'm familiar with don't seem to be in business anymore). At times, I've glanced for a certain soundtrack just so I can make a lossless rip of it and ended up not being able to find it. Even back in the early 2000's, some of the GAME- catalogue Son May albums were out of print and surprisingly hard to find. Recently, I actually had to pay decent money for the SM version of the Tenchi Muyo CD Box Set, because I have never seen a legitimate copy of it (although this was after buying a legitimate recent collection of Tenchi songs that had been compressed to hell and was totally worthless). Whatever works, I guess.

I was one of the people the was in the "steer people away from bootlegs" crowd, but I started thinking, "Wait a second...We're doing the publisher's dirty work here. They should be policing these things. And for that matter, they should be releasing these things over here in the US!" The boiling point for me came when that one idiot was selling the "salvage lots" of game music CD-R's on eBay for well over a year and not a thing was done by the companies or publishers. Well, that, and when the bootleggers started pirating those stupid copy-protected CD's, which I took as a direct slap in the face from the publishers. So I'm more or less indifferent to bootlegs. Pirating music files pretty much renders bootleggers obsolete anyway and it probably hurts the value of people's collections a lot more.

Value:

About a year ago, American Nightmare put a copy of Game Music Graffiti up with a BIN of $99. That would have been unheard of even a couple years ago, when that album routinely fetched $300-$400. I remember Jodo shared it on the STC boards in the early 2000's and everyone was in complete awe of it. I wound up buying the album (I would have been stupid not to, as it was one of the few VGM holy grails I had wanted for awhile), but I legitimately felt bad for AN and seeing the album go that low.

There are clearly fewer sellers, but it seems there is little demand at the moment as well. So I guess prices are stagnant-looking because no one is buying. Most of my collection is made of second-hand purchases and they have slowed to a crawl because there just aren't that many sales happening.

Oh yes, and just a random note to sellers: PLEASE, PLEASE PLEASE...stop putting "negotiable" as the price on vgmdb. Like 80% of the albums on that site are listed as negotiable (including ones from cocoebiz and Otaku) and it is annoying. This turns buyers away (and true to form, I always see the same stuff on there whenever I browse the marketplace). I want to email, paypal and be done. I don't want to worry that I'm overpaying or making a low-ball offer when I buy stuff. For me, setting prices was always part of the fun of selling VGM. They can always be lowered and sometimes people would bite on prices that I set initially higher. On the flipside, I always liked finding albums I actually want dirt cheap if it's a fair price to the seller.

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

Here are a couple factors that I believe discourage people from actually PAYING for music, much less soundtrack albums:

The price of imported soundtrack albums, especially for Japan - considering the exchange rate between the USD and JPY - is horrendous.

Also: Some soundtracks, horrendous exchange rate or not, are given such a hiked-up price to begin with (e.g., $40 for the Angel Beats! soundtrack, $50 for the Sonic Colors soundtrack) because they think fans are rabid enough to actually pay those prices.

Next, digital music is just a lot easier for some people to manage; you don't have a bunch of plastic cases you'll never use again, it's just polarized subatomic particles on a hard drive.

When my friends saw that I had game soundtracks, asked how much I paid for the stuff, and I told them, they told me that, for those prices, I could be buying household appliances and furniture instead, and that's the truth. As much as I paid for soundtracks, it was 1/3 of the amount of money I paid in rent for a month.

And, of course, when you listen to the stuff, and figure out that it just wasn't as good as you thought, or the music just doesn't fit with your daily regimen, it ends up neglected, and you regret the purchase, since you're not getting utility out of it.

The last official soundtrack I ever bought was the soundtrack for Catherine (the game by Atlus) - my favorite themes were those that involved the bar room - but the problem was, the tracks were so short, and having to listen to it fade out so many times just listening to the same track on repeat to get enough of it, is always obnoxious. One of these days, I'd like to record those tracks from the game manually myself, and probably make them twice as long as the track runs on the official print of the soundtrack.

Before that, I don't even remember what soundtrack I got. Xenoblade, maybe? And before that? I don't even remember, it's been so long.

Last edited by Dartannian (May 8, 2012)

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

GoldfishX wrote:

There are clearly fewer sellers, but it seems there is little demand at the moment as well. So I guess prices are stagnant-looking because no one is buying. Most of my collection is made of second-hand purchases and they have slowed to a crawl because there just aren't that many sales happening.

Oh yes, and just a random note to sellers: PLEASE, PLEASE PLEASE...stop putting "negotiable" as the price on vgmdb. Like 80% of the albums on that site are listed as negotiable (including ones from cocoebiz and Otaku) and it is annoying. This turns buyers away (and true to form, I always see the same stuff on there whenever I browse the marketplace). I want to email, paypal and be done. I don't want to worry that I'm overpaying or making a low-ball offer when I buy stuff. For me, setting prices was always part of the fun of selling VGM. They can always be lowered and sometimes people would bite on prices that I set initially higher. On the flipside, I always liked finding albums I actually want dirt cheap if it's a fair price to the seller.

So true, so true. "Negotiable", in my mind, basically = "This seller is going to want WAY too much for this album". 9 times out of 10, it's not worth contacting the seller to see how much they're really looking to get, so then that 1 seller (with fair expectations) out of 10 never gets any bites either.

And, yeah, sales have really dried up. Maybe there's not enough new blood in the community. Maybe it's the same core of people who already have their collections trimmed down to what they're never parting with. All I know is that I very rarely buy from someone on here or vgmdb these days, but years ago, it was a very regular thing. Not just soundtracks either. I've picked up a lot of nice games from soundtrack collectors too, but hardly anyone seems to be selling squat now. I know I'm mostly a lurker around here, but that's what I've seen.

Dartannian wrote:

The price of imported soundtrack albums, especially for Japan - considering the exchange rate between the USD and JPY - is horrendous.

YES. The exchange rate is killing my importing in general. If I want Japanese goods, I basically have to stick with buying second hand from Americans.

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

To me I think its miraculous video game soundtracks even exist at all. They go beyond 'niche' to 'curiousity' or something like that. And the fact that they are still being pressed, and not just new games, but releases like Sonic 1-2 and Live A Live seem to indicate there is a market which is surprising to me. I love the stuff, but this is like a micro-market.

Its just another case where the Japanese companies 'get it' as they demonstrate in excellent game consoles and software. The artistry of game music deserves their own releases, and somehow in this crazy world justice was done. I don't know how they continue to justify the production costs and the risk involved, but I'm glad they do!

As far as digital vs. CD, whenever I am out with my portable CD player, my friends are always like, 'what is THAT?' Nobody listens to CDs anymore period, at least I rarely see people using them, and this to me makes soundtrack releases that much more miraculous. CDs are going the way of tapes, though I personally feel they will remain because there has to be SOME type of physical media for practicality's sake. However the CD market itself is niche now, let alone video game soundtracks.

As someone mentioned, even if there was never another release, there have been so many, I could be happy just hunting down old releases, but the stream of new releases doesn't seem to be slowing. However, the nature of my collecting is usually backwards-looking. I am most interested in the SNES-PS1 era, and finding all those tunes I enjoyed, but I am certainly open to new and more recent discoveries.

And about that Saga box set, I meant to bid on it but forgot!!! But yeah, it was a steal. I'm glad for those bargains too.

As far as I'm concerned, collecting VGM is one of the coolest hobbies there is. So I appreciate sites like this, the community here and VGMdb and other sites. There are a lot of game music sites on the web, but to my mind, getting the actual releases is where its at. Sure its expensive, but it just reflects the value people place on it.

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

GoldfishX wrote:

Oh yes, and just a random note to sellers: PLEASE, PLEASE PLEASE...stop putting "negotiable" as the price on vgmdb. Like 80% of the albums on that site are listed as negotiable (including ones from cocoebiz and Otaku) and it is annoying. This turns buyers away (and true to form, I always see the same stuff on there whenever I browse the marketplace). I want to email, paypal and be done. I don't want to worry that I'm overpaying or making a low-ball offer when I buy stuff. For me, setting prices was always part of the fun of selling VGM. They can always be lowered and sometimes people would bite on prices that I set initially higher. On the flipside, I always liked finding albums I actually want dirt cheap if it's a fair price to the seller.

I'm with you on this one, man. I cannot stand that! I love seeing sales and checking out all the different values people put on their CDs, so when I see "negotiable", especially from vgmworld and otaku, I read that as "the highest price you can pay, plus a lot extra for shipping". No thank you.

Ashley Winchester wrote:
layzee wrote:

One exception to the above sentiments are game-related orchestral concerts which while they have existed in Japan for quite a while (Dragon Quest is an early one), only recently did they start appearing in the Western world.

I'm going to say something I've wanted to say about these concerts for A VERY LONG TIME. Personally - and again this goes back to my whole deal about not caring about orchestration - I DO NOT see what the big deal about these things is. I'm not saying that Nobuo or any other composer they're focused on don't deserve some props but at the end of the day I don't think they're winning the genre any new fans. I'm not terribly interested in hearing the music in a new light beyond what it was intended for in-game. As much as I don't want to admit it the original context is what is important to me.

This may be a potential side note, but I'm with Ashley on this one, too. Let's take Final Fantasy VIII for example: "Liberi Fatali" is powerful as all hell and is a great tune. The orchestration is what brings me back to the scenes in-game and every time I hear this I get chills (still). But then I hear some of the orchestrated stuff from the FLWV album, and while novel and at times beautiful, it just doesn't resonate with me the way the originals did. The same goes for FFVI Grand Finale and the "Ending Theme" from FFVIII. (The orchestration for the main theme around 8:00 is bland, and the following instrumentation doesn't do much to liven it up until a full minute later when the theme has already been played out. Sakimoto's rendition from FFXII blows this one out of the water for me emotively.) Let's also lump Xenogears Myth and a bunch of other orchestral albums into the mix.

The main issue here for me is not so much arrangement, but the reprising of themes with a live orchestra without much more added to it. I am not saying I am opposed to orchestral elements in game music, or live strings, or anything like that, but I need more than just an instrument makeover to enjoy some old themes. If not, I just end up comparing these renditions to the in-game versions, which almost always have more emotional/nostalgic value and usually just sound better to me. There are few exceptions, like Terra's theme from FF Pray that whittle me down straight to the core because of how beautiful it sounds, but that's more of a full on arrangement to me than just a symphonic refurbish. Minor details.

Last edited by Zane (May 8, 2012)

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

vert1 wrote:

Nintendo has all the money in the world to release soundtracks. They could in fact be the company that kick starts selling official standalone soundtracks at places like Gamestop (like the Xenoblade Gamestop exclusive) here in the US. Is it really hard to imagine someone seeing The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Soundtrack at Gamestop and not being intrigued? Now how about a small section filled up with Nintendo soundtracks? Throw on limited edition on the cd sticker and people would buy. Everyone is obsessed with exclusives. It can be done.

It's hard to say whether such a thing (selling stand-alone soundtracks in game retail stores) will be successful or not. The way I see it is that Nintendo are known for their innovation and good gameplay that everyone can enjoy, and not so much the music (which as mentioned in my first post, are there to fill in the silence as perceived by casual gamers who don't care about game music). Having said that, Nintendo does have a large consumer base (e.g. Nintendo fans and casual gamers) to extract soundtrack sales from, compared to say, Atlus fans and to a lesser extent, Square-Enix (who sell soundtracks from their official website). In any case, Nintendo would be the most likely candidate to test whether a video game music market exists in Western countries and whether selling game soundtracks in retail game stores is a viable action.

vert1 wrote:

That would be a great future of physical soundtrack releases that aren't bootleg sold in malls. It feels like everything is under attack of becoming digitized/online. If games eventually become download only will vgm still be sold as physical media?

As much as I like tangible goods, I cannot think of a reason why VGM won't be digital-only in the future.

Zane wrote:
vert1 wrote:

Yesterday I was pissed off that there was no way to get good deals on eBay anymore

I completely agree. Unless you have that random, one-off chance of finding something you want, you're either going to get bootlegs or really expensive releases from champ_des_pins and otaku.com. I'm sure making money off of VGM is not easy, especially now, but there is no f'n way almost $100 for Ace Combat 04 OST is acceptable.

Interesting point you bring up here. If I use some basic economic theory in this... so basically my thread was questioning the size of the video game market (in terms of consumers) or whether one even exists. One view (yours) is that sellers like champ_des_pins and otaku.com may sell overpriced soundtracks. If they were overpriced, then that means they must be making "too much profit" (the difference between the cost price and selling price). If that's the case, then surely other competitors (sellers) would enter the market (eBay), and gain market share by selling the same items at a slightly lower price? Who doesn't want easy money? But apparently, that is not the case.

Therefore, I can only conclude that the video game music market (number of consumers) is small to the extent that only a few sellers feel it is worth their time to sell to this market, and the prices reflect that. Another reason for the high prices is that some soundtracks can go out-of-print and therefore, the supply is limited. However, the soundtracks have only a finite amount and go OOP probably because there aren't many VGM buyers anyway (i.e. quantity of supply = quantity of demand), otherwise they (the publishers) would print a million soundtracks and sell it to everyone who wants one (which of course, doesn't happen).

Ashley Winchester wrote:

Nice to see I'm not the only that's noticed the J-PRG is paying for it's time in the sun during the 32-bit era. I wouldn't worry too much about it - that day will be coming for shooters soon enough with the genre's current over saturation. Seriously, people will get sick of shooting things - eventually.

As a person who is not a fan of military/war type FPSs, hopefully this happens soon. Then again, one must not underestimate America's love of guns and shooting things. Seriously.

I believe even Capcom tried their hand at this genre with Vanquish (to be fair, some people consider this FPS to be even better than Western-made FPSs) and that new Resident Evil/Biohazard game. I'm not sure I want to see Japanese game developers making everything an FPS.

tri-Ace Super Fan wrote:

There are video game music fans claiming that there are tons of us?

A few overly-enthusiastic people might make claim that yes. Usually, they'd say "I wish [game developer] released an official soundtrack for this game. How many people love this game's music? I know there's a lot of you out there! So please sign my online petition so that we can prove to [game developer] that there are a lot of us and we want to buy that soundtrack! And don't forget to 'Like' on Facebook!"

Then I click on the online petition and the number of signatures are still in the single digits. Or perhaps this is just about the uselessness of online petitions in general but in any case, I can see no evidence of the "many" potential soundtrack-buyers. Therefore, because of this, it is not fair to criticise game companies who do not release certain soundtracks when nobody is going to buy them anyway.

This also doubly applies to game fans who demand an untranslated Japanese game (for example, the various Tales of... games by Namco-Bandai) to be translated into English (citing their numbers to prove there is a market), but when a particular game does get translated into English, the "fans" reward the game developer/publisher with underwhelming sales.

the_miker wrote:

Every album I'm after is 5,000 yen or more, which turns into insanity after fees and exchange rate.  Sad. sad

Dartannian wrote:

The price of imported soundtrack albums, especially for Japan - considering the exchange rate between the USD and JPY - is horrendous.

I forgot to mention this in my first post but the strength of the Japanese yen is also indeed a very significant factor when it comes video game music consumers and Japanese game soundtrack sales.

I would've assumed that the JPY value would dive like the US dollar when the economy doesn't look good. But I think it's most likely because Japan have very high foreign currency reserves which is why the JPY is maintaining its value.

Which doesn't help me, as a buyer of Japanese stuff, but oh well.

Crash wrote:

Now, the demand may be higher as game music has become slightly more mainstream, but the supply is much higher.

That seems like a reasonably accurate and succinct description of the "video game music market" then and now. Improvements in technology and Internet (like the spreading of PayPal as an international payment method and the continued popularity of eBay) means that while on the demand side, it's still very niche ("slightly more mainstream"), on the seller side, they have more opportunities to find and sell to buyers. Having said that, the actual market is still very small.

Yotsuya wrote:

To me I think its miraculous video game soundtracks even exist at all. They go beyond 'niche' to 'curiousity' or something like that. And the fact that they are still being pressed, and not just new games, but releases like Sonic 1-2 and Live A Live seem to indicate there is a market which is surprising to me. I love the stuff, but this is like a micro-market.

I was quite surprised about the re-release of the Live-A-Live soundtrack for several reasons:

1) In general, the video game market is small and niche, even in Japan. So the number of potential buyers of this soundtrack would be pretty small.
2) Live-A-Live is an obscure, niche, and old Super Famicom game and it is a stand-alone game that has no sequels/prequels and is not referenced to by any other game. So the number of potential buyers of this soundtrack would be even smaller.
3) This soundtrack includes the bonus tracks from the Live-A-Live official guidebook. That's even more obscure. I'm surprised someone at Square-Enix remembered those tracks.

So even though the VGM market is niche/small, apparently releasing a soundtrack of an old and obscure game is a viable business strategy. However, it does have two things going for it in terms of exposure: the Square-Enix brand, people will check it out just because it's a Square-Enix product, and to a lesser extent, Yoko Shimomura, who is not obscure.

(Oh wait, it's a digital download only, not a CD release. Well I'll just leave the above intact anyway since I typed it out already and those are still valid points.)

Last edited by layzee (May 8, 2012)

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

layzee wrote:

It's hard to say whether such a thing (selling stand-alone soundtracks in game retail stores) will be successful or not. The way I see it is that Nintendo are known for their innovation and good gameplay that everyone can enjoy, and not so much the music (which as mentioned in my first post, are there to fill in the silence as perceived by casual gamers who don't care about game music). Having said that, Nintendo does have a large consumer base (e.g. Nintendo fans and casual gamers) to extract soundtrack sales from, compared to say, Atlus fans and to a lesser extent, Square-Enix (who sell soundtracks from their official website). In any case, Nintendo would be the most likely candidate to test whether a video game music market exists in Western countries and whether selling game soundtracks in retail game stores is a viable action.

I think the problem with Nintendo is that they don't seem to care much about game music these days, and I don't just mean the fact that they're not producing retail soundtracks. Maybe I'm in the minority with this thought, but ever since around the GameCube era, they've been hiring all of these greenhorn, no-name composers that, frankly, aren't very good. The music is cheerful and bouncy, but that's about it. I consider myself lucky if I don't find it irritating in-game, let alone listening to it on its own. There are exceptions, but this is overall the norm, in my opinion. Publishers like Atlus and Square Enix see demand and are making and selling soundtracks because their games have some pretty "legendary" composers, at least to people who actually pay attention to game music. If Nintendo tried to test the viability of the VGM market in Western countries and failed, I don't know if it would necessarily be because no one likes video game music. It might just be because no one cares about the music in most Nintendo games these days. What they should've done is released a Super Smash Bros. Brawl soundtrack. Now THAT was boneheaded. A who's who of composers, arranging classic well-known songs, in one of the most popular games of this generation. I think that actually could've sold decently.

In a way, Nintendo kind of did test the waters during the N64 days, since their Nintendo Power catalog did sell quite a few soundtracks. But again, they weren't the most amazing choices to grant an OST.

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

Quick correction layzee: Vanquish was published by Sega and developed by Platinum Games. It is a third person shooter.

Zane wrote:
vert1 wrote:

Yesterday I was pissed off that there was no way to get good deals on eBay anymore

I completely agree. Unless you have that random, one-off chance of finding something you want, you're either going to get bootlegs or really expensive releases from champ_des_pins and otaku.com. I'm sure making money off of VGM is not easy, especially now, but there is no f'n way almost $100 for Ace Combat 04 OST is acceptable.

Hold it. Alex (owner of Otaku.com) has only ever price gouged like champ_des_pins on eBay, not his store. I remember he had one Senko No Ronde cd listed with a $20 differential between eBay and Otaku. Maybe the price difference was done to simply take advantage of the ignorance of the masses using eBay. Alex has moved all his items to his store now. He's a good seller.

Champ_des_pins pricing logic may be that he is covering his ass for inflation, reprint devaluation of originals, etc.

I should be able to get Alex to provide some feedback on this subject. Not sure about Champ.

And yea, it may even be worse when a rare soundtrack is listed for bidding on eBay for Westerners to freely bid as people are always alerted via vgmdb forums or soundtrackcentral forums. Anyone know any forums in Japan like STC where people alert each other when they put up rare stuff like Battle Garegga OST or Silent Hill OST on Yahoo Japan Auction?

Last edited by vert1 (May 8, 2012)

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

About the  - "negotiable" as the price on vgmdb
that is the default price as set by vgmdb when uploading a collection.

Is there way to upload a collection as a csv text file with prices included?
If there is a better way, then I'll do that.

- -

About the otaku.com
website vs ebay prices

eBay final fees are now approx. 15%
so we just add that to the otaku.com website price.
Plus we add an amount to cover the shipping as eBay
strongly push us to use "Free Shipping" ie shipping
included in price.
So I'm not making any extra on the ebay prices.

So otaku.com website prices will always be lower.

- - -

btw. we have a new website almost ready
it's here

www.otaku.com:2012

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

vert1 wrote:

I should be able to get Alex to provide some feedback on this subject. Not sure about Champ.

I don't think anyone needs Champ's feedback. Anyone who tries to sell the Rockman Theme Song Collection for $200 we already know enough about tongue

EDIT:

Additionally, that was sure a hell one LOUSY addition to this thread. Like anykind of salesman is going to admit if they make a profit even though I do believe what Alex says.

Last edited by Ashley Winchester (May 8, 2012)

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

Thanks for the response Alex. That makes sense. But also think of the perspective of a buyer (especially if they know about the Otaku website and then they see "negotiable" prices for everything). At first glance, it might appear to be price gouging. Although I'll go on record and say Otaku.com's website prices are plenty fair. I'm almost sure you would do more business on vgmdb by plugging in prices. The same thing goes for Cocoebiz (and no one will doubt Kahori has been great for VGM buyers).

Champ, on the other hand...That guy is just milking this shit. Hopefully he's paying fees for listing (and relisting) all those overpriced CD's that people aren't buying.

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

GoldfishX wrote:

... I'll go on record and say Otaku.com's website prices are plenty fair. ...

Thanks!
And if you see a possible wrong price on the otaku.com site,
let me know and I'll check it.

- -

Special offer.
Place an order on our new 2012 website for any 2 or more Game Music CDs
and I'll refund all the shipping cost, except the 1st $9
(So you only pay $9 shipping no matter how many CDs you order.)

Must use
new 2012 website

www.otaku.com:2012

~ alex

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

yes,, ebay fees suck huge rhino balls,, we only have about 5% of our sales on there and our ebay fees are around $1000 a month.
you WANT to have that price difference so you can harvest ebay customers to come to your website for their future purchases.

ebay is the most annoying advertizing expense you could possibly imagine.

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

vert1 wrote:

Quick correction layzee: Vanquish was published by Sega and developed by Platinum Games. It is a third person shooter.

Actually, it turns out I'm not completely wrong. Platinum Games consists of some members from the now defunct Clover Studio, which was a Capcom group.

tri-Ace Super Fan wrote:

What they should've done is released a Super Smash Bros. Brawl soundtrack. Now THAT was boneheaded. A who's who of composers, arranging classic well-known songs, in one of the most popular games of this generation. I think that actually could've sold decently.

Yeah, since the SSBB game has universal appeal as well as an extensive number of A-Grade guest composers, that would have been a good opportunity.

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

So I was thinking about this recently, and I'm guessing there must be a discrepancy between US and Japanese markets for VGM. Back in the NES/SNES era, basically Japan dominated the gaming world (even though computer games did decent in the US and Europe). Back then, I had no idea you could purchase video game soundtracks! Later on, I of course found out (I think the first place I was at was gamemusic.com) and it was quite a revelation. So many wonderful tracks... and of course they were nearly all from Japan.

Fast forward to today. It seems like the US/Western market has caught-up with Japan in terms of releases. Nearly all Western games today have a soundtrack release. It seems to me that the market is doing fine. The collectible market, perhaps not so fine, but this is to be expected (supply and demand). However, it seems that Western games are dominating the platforms these days, at least here in the US. Thus, naturally there is less demand for Japanese VGM. Perhaps that's really hurting the Japanese VGM market? I will say that the last two soundtracks I got from Japan were: Catherine OST (I have to agree with Dart's post on it) and the Muramasa arranged (awesome)! Other than that, all the soundtracks I have recently gotten were Western. The main reason is that I typically only get a soundtrack if 1)I played the game and really enjoy it  or 2)if I read a review and it seems like a top-notch soundtrack. That said, there just were not any soundtracks from Japan that I was interested in recently, while there were quite a few from here in the US/Europe. Anyway, so perhaps this helps explain the situation, or sheds more light on it.

Good listening, everyone!

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

avatar! wrote:

So I was thinking about this recently, and I'm guessing there must be a discrepancy between US and Japanese markets for VGM. Back in the NES/SNES era, basically Japan dominated the gaming world (even though computer games did decent in the US and Europe). Back then, I had no idea you could purchase video game soundtracks! Later on, I of course found out (I think the first place I was at was gamemusic.com) and it was quite a revelation. So many wonderful tracks... and of course they were nearly all from Japan.

Fast forward to today. It seems like the US/Western market has caught-up with Japan in terms of releases. Nearly all Western games today have a soundtrack release. It seems to me that the market is doing fine. The collectible market, perhaps not so fine, but this is to be expected (supply and demand). However, it seems that Western games are dominating the platforms these days, at least here in the US. Thus, naturally there is less demand for Japanese VGM. Perhaps that's really hurting the Japanese VGM market? I will say that the last two soundtracks I got from Japan were: Catherine OST (I have to agree with Dart's post on it) and the Muramasa arranged (awesome)! Other than that, all the soundtracks I have recently gotten were Western. The main reason is that I typically only get a soundtrack if 1)I played the game and really enjoy it  or 2)if I read a review and it seems like a top-notch soundtrack. That said, there just were not any soundtracks from Japan that I was interested in recently, while there were quite a few from here in the US/Europe. Anyway, so perhaps this helps explain the situation, or sheds more light on it.

Good listening, everyone!

I think part of this has to do with the source. US/European releases are generally easier to find due to their country. Stuff like the Humble Bundle (which packages the soundtracks in mp3/FLAC) and artists selling from their homepages is definitely a good thing, but you won't see much of these releases finding their way to market since the majority are digital. On the flipside, Japanese releases are not always cut and dry to obtain and you sometimes pay a premium for them. The recent Sega retro releases are good examples of this. Virtually guaranteed to cost whoever wants them a pretty penny down the line.

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Re: The size/nicheness of the Video Game Music market (or the lack of it)

layzee wrote:

(Oh wait, it's a digital download only, not a CD release. Well I'll just leave the above intact anyway since I typed it out already and those are still valid points.)

No, Live A Live is a CD reprint. I got my copy! It's true Shimomura would be a big reason for the reprint. Someone mentioned a 'face' of game music, and Shimomura would be my first thought, even over Uematsu. Uemastu is legendary without doubt, but he is pretty much exclusive to Final Fantasy whereas Shimomura has a host of releases including standouts like Street Fighter 2, Mario RPG and Kingdom Hearts, spanning multiple hardware generations.

Also regarding Otaku.com and champ_des_pins, I think they would probably be the best informed to speak to this particular subject on the size/future of the market. Any thoughts Alex? To their credit, I ordered a package from Otaku that went missing in the mail and Alex was helpful until it was tracked down. And champ may 'overprice' out of print albums, but a lot of forum members ask for similar prices for rare stuff!! Also champ does list new releases at their sticker price. Releases like Gyakuten Saiban soundbox that are hard to get over here, he isn't gouging on.

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