Looking Back at SXSW: Music in Games – The Future Is Now

Posted on: May 9, 2022
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Music has long been an important part of video games. From the olden days of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Guitar Hero to the cutting edge of Beat Saber, the right music can make or break a game. But what goes into creating that perfect intersection of music and gaming?

Monday of the conference was the “Music in Games: The Future Is Now” panel moderated by Vickie Nauman (founder and CEO of CrossBorderWorks), and featuring panelists Joe Khoury (VP of A&R and marketing for Atlantic Records), Aaron Matusow (head of partnerships at Crush Music), and Javoslav Beck (co-founder and head of music for Beat Saber).

According to the pannelists, it’s important to work with artists who take the game seriously. “You can’t go halfway,” said Matusow. “One thing that games can do is create a world for your artist—and not just in a Metaverse sense. The artist can partner in every facet of an IP.” When Travis Scott and Marshmello teamed up with Fortnite, they went all-in with planning and design, but Khoury pointed it that it “has to be an organic partnership… it can’t be forced.” Some artists will make sense in a video game context and some won’t.

“It’s important not just to pitch for superstar opportunities but also indie developers,” said Matusow. “Any music collaboration that happens in a game has to make it more fun for the players.”

“If you believe in it, you have to fight for it,” said Khoury. “Find those ways in and chase them.”

The panelists talked a lot about Beck’s work on Beat Saber, and how artists are clamoring to take part in it. As Khoury said, “every third artist asks how to get on Beat Saber.” Artists like Panic! at the Disco, however, are the natural fit. Brendon Urie of Panic! used to stream on Twitch several times a week, harking back to the recognition that artists are gamers and vice versa.

What’s next for music and gaming? According to the panel, it’s a one word answer: Web3.

“There is no halfway with Web3,” according to Matusow. “It’s not an avenue yet. It has to be treated as its own medium. You have to create for it.”

Stefny’s favorite games for new music discovery:

  1. NHL 2004
  2. Rocket League
  3. Guitar Hero II
  4. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
  5. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

And one day, when I get an Oculus… Beat Saber.


Article and photos by Stephanie Robinson, A.K.A. Stefny! At the Disco