EA announces joint venture with music publisher

Next Level Music will allow EA to sign artists and develop its own music catalogue.

Leading videogame publisher Electronic Arts has extended its reach into the music industry, with the establishment of a joint venture with major music firm Cherry Lane Music Publishing.

Called Next Level Music, the joint venture is designed to sign existing and emerging artists, acquire the rights to music and develop its own original tracks, with Cherry Lane handling the music industry end of things while EA promotes the music through its games.

The deal also means that EA's existing catalogue of music will be available for licensing to commercials, films, trailers and so on through Next Level, and moves EA from being a music licensor to being a music owner who licenses out to other firms.

Unsurprisingly, the venture is the brainchild of EA's head of music, former MTV executive Steve Schnur, who was also responsible for the creation of the EA TRAX division which provides licensed music to key EA products, and has spearheaded closer ties with the music industry, the most recent of which saw the Black Eyed Peas being featured in console title The Urbz: Sims in the City.

Schnur has repeatedly argued that music in popular games is the modern equivalent of radio broadcasting, with tracks which appear in multi-million selling titles such as the Grand Theft Auto or, more relevantly, the EA Sports range, receiving more "airplay" to consumers than any station offers.

Contrary to reports which appeared last week, EA will not be taking over Cherry Lane - itself a major player in the music industry, with over 100,000 copyrights held - as part of the deal, and although it will be engaging with the music industry in an unprecedented manner, it will not be going into business as a record label, as such.

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