Sony is building a team ‘dedicated to reimagining music through immersive media’ – using Fortnite maker Epic Games’ Unreal Engine

MBW has previously covered the convergence of the music and video games businesses – and how artists will likely benefit from the collision of these two worlds.

Last year,  when Marshmello played a live set to over 10 million people in smash video game Fortnite, it set a precedent for large-scale virtual concerts, and woke the music industry up to using a video game’s vast audience to market their artists.

Last month, Travis Scott‘s ‘Astronomical’ Fortnite event – in which he debuted his new track, The Scotts with Kid Cudi – took things to a new level.

Scott’s in-game stunt attracted 27.7 million viewers across five pre-recorded ‘sets’, setting industry tongues wagging over where the cocktail of music and interactive entertainment could go next.

Now, Sony Music – which owns Scott’s label, Epic Records – appears determined to remain a leader in this field.

MBW has spotted that the music company is in the process of recruiting for a team of technical executives based in Los Angeles “dedicated to reimagining music through immersive media”.

According to a number of job ads, Sony Music has very recently advertised for positions ranging from gameplay engineers to technical animators and lighting artists.

While some of the ads use general language around the concept of “immersive media content creation” to describe what the new team members will be working on, there are a few strong hints that point towards video game creation.

For starters, one of the jobs is for a Game Level Designer – which is exactly as it sounds.

There are also vacancies for an Unreal Engine Generalist and an Unreal Engine Networking Engineer.

What’s Unreal? Its the ‘engine’ on which a host of blockbuster video games, including Fortnite, are built on… and just so happens to be owned by the same company behind Fortnite, Epic Games.

The description for the Unreal Engine Generalist role reveals that the successful candidate will be tasked with “leveraging Sony Music’s vast catalog and roster of artists… [as well as] designing and implementing a new category of music experiences which utilize the latest game engine-based software and tools”.

The Unreal Engine Networking Engineer, meanwhile, “will develop and maintain online multiplayer services for immersive music experiences”.

For some time, Sony’s music division has floated the vision of “One Sony” – the idea that it is uniquely connected to Sony Corp’s other divisions such as Sony Pictures (movies and TV) and Sony Game & Network Services (including PlayStation), and can cross-collaborate on projects.

In October last year, we pointed out evidence that “One Sony” might finally becoming a creative reality, noting Sony Music’s active role in the action-adventure Playstation 4 video game Death Stranding, released in November.

The official soundtrack to Death Stranding was released as a standalone album, entitled Death Stranding: Timefall, by RCA Records on November 7, while premier league Sony-signed artists such as Khalid, Alan Walker and Bring Me The Horizon contributed original recordings to the game.

The timing of these new job adverts is, of course, impeccable.

Last week’s Rolling Stone article Why the Music Business Should Be Looking Closely at Fortnite, covered in-depth how, in the wake of Travis Scott’s ‘Astronomical’ event, Epic Games could become a major influence on – and creative ally of – the music business in the years ahead.

Sony has previously used the Unreal Engine to power immersive music experiences, such as the Chainsmokers’ Paris.VR Virtual Reality app for PlayStation, which was released as part of SME’s company’s Lost in Music campaign in 2017.

Sony Corp’s ambitions in the space have come a long way since: Sony Interactive Entertainment has just been granted a US patent for the ‘Integration of tracked facial features for VR users in virtual reality environments’, which, as reported by Upload, ‘reveals research on VR face tracking, a vital technology for the future of multiplayer and social VR’.

Sony Music assembling a brand new team skilled in games development, specifically with the Unreal Engine, is an exciting development in the ongoing convergence of the games and music worlds and hints at a number of possible outcomes.

These include the development of more in-Fortnite concerts, more advanced Paris.VR-like apps, SME’s own music-themed multiplayer game(s), or other virtual music experiences. Could Sony even potentially attempt to replicate aspects of Travis Scott’s Fortnite event on its own platform?

Which is all to say: 2020 could truly be the year that “One Sony” evolves from concept to reality.

Here are just a few interactive/immersive roles that Sony Music is currently hiring for:

  • Manager, Art Outsourcing 
    • This person will be required to liaise between internal production resources and external vendors to ensure efficient and on-time creation of digital art assets for immersive media content creation. At least 3 years’ relevant professional experience is required alongside a minimum of one shipped AAA game title.
  • A Lighting Artist to collaborate with technical art and design teams to create high quality lighting for a wide range of environments and assets.
    • The successful applicant will need to have 3-5 years’ professional experience, including a portfolio demonstrating technical expertise in a variety of real-time lighting techniques (baked, dynamic, etc.).
  • Gameplay Engineer who will play a key role in designing, implementing, and maintaining systems and tools for immersive media content creation.
  • A UI Designer with 3-5 years’ experience in Graphic Design and Interaction/UX Design in console and VR applications, to play a key role in shaping user experience design for immersive media content creation.
  • Technical Animator with 5+ years’ professional technical game art experience.
  • Unreal Engine Generalist with 5+ years’ experience developing and optimizing real time experiences in Unreal Engine 4.
  • Sound Designer with 7+ years’ sound design within the gaming industry and strong technical knowledge of audio programming/engineering with Unreal Engine 4.
  • Lead Environment Artist with 10+ years’ professional environment art design/development experience and demonstrated expertise in leading and managing teams for 3D environment art.

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