Utrecht band gain international stature through football game

RNW archive

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29 September 2011 saw the release of the computer football game FIFA 12. A band from the Dutch city of Utrecht, The Medics, are among the acts included in the soundtrack. That means over 15 million people will hear a track by the band. That's very good promotion, but doesn't necessarily mean they'll become rich.

The Medics are a small, still relatively unknown band. But they're becoming better known as their latest single Dance Into The Dark is regularly played on Dutch radio. They have just released their debut album and are touring around venues throughout the Netherlands. The icing on the cake was also recently announced - their song City can be heard in the hugely popular football game FIFA 12.

Favourite band
That game is part of a very successful series. The previous version, FIFA 11, sold a total of more than 15 million copies. The series is known for its soundtracks. This year it includes internationally renowned artists such as Foster The People, The Vaccines and The Strokes.

Guitarist Ricardo Jupijn is a fan of almost all the other bands that grace the soundtrack. He says he's honoured to be among them.

"The Strokes are my favourite active band and I have tickets for a show by The Vaccines, for example. I buy practically all the music in that list. It's really strange to be standing among them. The Strokes are certainly huge heroes of mine. It's just scary to stand alongside them. It still feels as if I have put the song into the game myself."

Iris Wevers of game publisher Electronic Arts (EA) explains that the FIFA series has always had a striking soundtrack. Often the publisher chooses mostly bands that are not widely known.

"Inside EA there's a department that is responsible for all the music. They always look for music that fits the target audience and subject. What we try to do is figure out which bands are currently not yet in the picture but are on the verge of breaking through. FIFA is often the springboard that gives them the final push."

A big game has sales figures that can never be matched by album sales, even for an international star. So a band will be heard by many more people than ever before. Moreover, the audience is very international. According to Jupijn, that opens doors for tours abroad. The band has already had many responses from Brazil and England, and their album is also frequently downloaded abroad.

Not rich
Yet the band will not immediately become rich. They received only a fixed amount from publisher EA for using the song. Unlike CDs or downloads from iTunes, the members of the band receive no fee per copy sold. In the end, the band will earn about one fifth of the cost of recording their debut album.
According to independent recording consultant Niels Aalberts, it's difficult to get more for a small band: "It's you or ten others", he says. But he understands the promotional importance of the game. He says The Medics have done quite well out of it, as the band now have an album and are going on tour. If their career needed a kick start, they've certainly had one.