What is a fair price range for already existing (not custom-made) music if it's intended for a commercial game?

The music I have in mind is relatively unknown (independent music) and I'm already in contact with the label that controls the rights to it, I just need a relative price range to take with me into the negotiation.


Jonathan Blow licensed all of the music used on Braid from stock music library Magnatune.com (here's a post on his blog where he talks about it). So I was thinking that perhaps you could get an estimate of a reasonable price from their website. Here's their licensing information page and here's a sample page they provide that lets you estimate the price for licensing one song for a video game.

As an example, here's some results from choosing one random song from that list with the bare minimum choices available (except for the music length):

Artist: Ehren Starks
Album: Lines Build Walls
Song name: 01-Lines Build Walls-Ehren Starks
Music length: entire song
Theme song: not theme song
Advertising: no advertising
Number of platforms: 1
Units: 50,000
Price: $1500

The website also states the following on the licensing information page:

Because we've automated the licensing process, Magnatune's prices are about 30 percent lower than industry standard.

Draw your own conclusions from there.

  • \$\begingroup\$ what happens if sales of your video game exceeds the units? \$\endgroup\$ – ninjaneer Mar 21 '17 at 19:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ninjaneer, Just like all products, if you for see a rise in sale, order in advance the next units. If you exceeds the units in the contract, you are using them without permission (generally speaking) \$\endgroup\$ – YoniXw Jul 20 '20 at 21:07

This largely depends on how you intend to use the music in this and future related products, how valuable (often gauged by popularity) the music is, and whether you want to buyout the rights or work out a royalty deal.

Here's a link with some general info: http://www.ascap.com/Home/Music-Career/articles-advice/ascapcorner/corner16.aspx


This question is really interesting to me. I have made a deal with a music producer who later became a close friend of mine. We agreed on 7% of total income from sold games.

We found this fair because that way if we both put a large amount of work into a project but no copies are sold, then I'm not X amount of dollars out of pocket. Just his time and mine.

But then conversely if the game in question made millions (pfft, I wish) then we would both get a very decent lump sum. We also took into account the difference in hours worked on a project. He would work on the project about 1 hours to my 10, roughly - so pure time accountancy the rate seemed fair also.

If you're sourcing your stuff from a commercial website, then you're most likely looking at a single payment for the rights of a specific track. About $600-$1500 is probably reasonable. A lot of licenses also scale up. So something like $300 for a game with 3000 copies distributed but $1000 for a game with 100,000 copies distributed.

It depends on the size of your market and your budget, as well as your source.


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