Vinyl video game, object that follows its path

Video game music is not limited to listening while playing a console or computer game. It also calls itself on vinyl turntables. The audience is small, but the demand is high for presses that sell from a few hundred to a few thousand copies.

Since the soundtracks of titles over twenty years old, such as the soundtrack Diablo II (in prior order) and its hazy atmosphere, even newer references, such as 96 wayJust For Games, the French video game and derivative distributor’s catalog of two hundred titles. For its part, the German company Black Screen Records presents a hundred. Both intend to take advantage of Record Store Day, Saturday, April 23, to promote their activity by offering some discounts on their virtual stores dedicated to video game music.

Today, most media is digitized. But there is a large part of the public, especially collectors or fans, who still want to own things,” One of the European leaders in the sector notes Kevin Schulz, founder and director of Black Screen Records. His works are sold every year “Several tens of thousands of vinyl records”, Explains during a video interview with the world.

In this highly niche market, accurate sales numbers are hard to come by. Kevin Schultz assures us, however, that France is its third market, associated with the United Kingdom, after the Germans and the Americans. Love to support can hardly cool off due to the shipping costs, however exorbitant, for these discs which are often imported from Germany or the United States.

Accompanying this boom, dating back to mid-2010, is the vinyl market in France: in 2021, 5.2 million black records were sold there, three times more than in 2016, according to the national syndicate. Release.

Road 96's soundtrack features a song

sudden success

Kevin Schulz founded his company in 2015. At the time, this 22-year-old student was dying to add the soundtrack toOddworld: Fresh and delicious (2014), a great classic remake released on Playstation in 1997, which ” Back to childhood. Since the object does not exist, why not make it yourself? Then the young man contacts the studio responsible for the game by e-mail:

They came back to me half an hour later to give me their approval. I thought: “Babe! It was just a joke, a random idea…” But from there, as they said they were interested, I had to keep going. »

Some knowledge of the recording industry describes the project as ” Stupid “. But the demand is very present on the Internet: Kevin Schultz managed to finance the first press of a thousand copies thanks to pre-orders.

Even today, the majority of sales are done online. If Black Screen Records still offers a few “home” vinyl films, it has proven itself mainly by distributing albums from foreign labels such as Mondo, Milan Records or Laced Records.

Since September 2021, he has sought to expand his audience by opening Popsub, his own store dedicated to video game music, in Cologne. The Fun Thirty Still Can’t Believe Her Success:

“It is absolutely insane… It is a dream for me, I would have never imagined being able to pay dozens of employees and fund this store with music from video games.”

Only a few record stores in the world are dedicated to video games.  Popsup, located in Cologne, is one of them.  It also offers music CDs from Japanese anime or superhero movies as complements.

Eyes flatter as much as ears

The French from G4F, a studio that specializes in video game audio (sound effects, music, sound, dubbing, etc.), are familiar with Kevin Schulz’s online store. The company that was founded in 2008 has been with him since they began producing vinyl in 2016. Its founder and director, Vincent Percivolt, explains to Globalism Adapting the game’s music to a microgrooved disc is not done with the touch of a finger. It is first accompanied by a specific treatment at the level of mastery, the final production stage, in order to harmonize the sounds with the peculiarities of the medium. Then the choice of tracks depends on the timing of each side. The process takes place jointly with the authors who influence “almost always” Copyright on this sales record.

Finally, he reminds us that these tablets should not only flatter the ear, but also be beautiful in vision:

“We’re back to the physical. So it has to be something beautiful. We’re here to offer high value-added collectibles. It has to be graphic and sound.”

Since design is essential to these small prints, Vincent Percivolt continues:

“We try to stick to the game world. Each object should be really unique. It is also necessary to take care of the physical aspect, for example the texture of the paper or the way the print is presented.”

Their formula was born when they were responsible for the soundtrack for immediately From French studio The Game Bakers, which includes artist titles Carpenter Brutt, Lorne and Dinger. They decided to create their first “collective” vinyl record because they considered this powerful album of synthwave, a futuristic electro genre, could appeal to the indie game fan circuit. The bet pays off: it’s been six years “Several thousand copies” According to the leader of G4F, it is still the best selling product.

According to Julien Cluet, director of sales at distributor Just For Games, video games stand out in the record boxes: “When we look at the records of the labels [de musique de jeux vidéo] Like I Am 8 Bit, for example, you can see the difference. Colored marble dials, skillfully pleated sleeves, and original designs…the piece has a strong appeal. I even know people who buy these vinyl when they don’t have a turntable”the person who actually collected the vinyl records before they started selling them.

In addition to CDs and vinyl, G4F Records plans to offer cassette tapes.

Pressing Presses

The worlds of video games and vinyl games may seem far apart, but they are complementary, as Julien Clouet notes:

The average buyer of vinyl is, in general, often in their 30s or even younger. It’s the same generation we’re targeting with our video game products. People who enter working life or who are executives, who have the means to have fun. »

Prices can also attract fans of products from the world of popular culture: “Except for a few big boxes, the average vinyl cost between 20 and 40 euros,” Julian Clouet explains. “It’s a more affordable price range for the general public than figurines, for example, which go up quickly to a hundred euros”he thinks.

However, the bill for some luxury boxes can be prohibitive. Deluxe Edition, four discs celebrating the Trinity mass effect, It is sold for 140 euros. that of death It rises to almost 100 euros, which does not prevent him from regularly running out of stock.

What's better than vinyl to extend the old aesthetic of a video game

However, manufacturing difficulties impede this dynamic, Vincent Persevolt regrets.

“Presses are suffocated by the orders of big companies who are suppressing their entire catalog. Whereas before it took three months to get a record, now we need at least six or seven.” It is difficult, under these circumstances, to coincide with the release of a video game and that of the vinyl associated with it.

Another downside: the delay in getting new compressions is long. In February, when the series adaptation of the game was released on Netflix Cuphead (2017), his soundtrack has been sold. It took several months for fans of this tribute to the 1930s cartoon to put vinyl on their turntables and listen to jazz sings artificially.

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