The Fortnite game’s “emotes” let players dance to hit songs as avatars. In addition, licensing dollars in the pockets of musicians and TikTok choreographers.
“These songs were really celebrated in 2020, and we wanted to highlight these awesome dances again,” Nanzer says. The recent push into music and dance emotes is part of Nanzer. Nanzer’s overall strategy to make music a bigger part of the game.
Last year, Fortnite hosted in-game performances from artists like Travis Scott and J Balvin. It launched the Party Royale mode for entertainment experiences. In addition, it created Fortnite Radio to let players listen to licensed music while in vehicles during the game.
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One of the earliest examples is an emote for Drake’s “Toosie Slide,” which was added to the Item Shop last May. Secondly, all of the dance- and music-focused emotes are part of Fortnite’s “Icon Series,” made for virtual items which depict real-life people and pop culture moments.
For each of these emotes, Epic Games secures music licenses from rights holders giving Fortnite the right to synch a clip of the song with the visual dance move in perpetuity — since although the Item Shop rotates emotes in and out (creating scarcity to build demand), players who purchase emotes have them forever.
Marrying a recording with video requires at least a synchronization license and master license. At the moment, synch licenses for games are usually given on a one-off basis and negotiated case-by-case, so fees vary widely depending on the song, according to a music lawyer familiar with the matter.
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The bottom Line
In conclusion, “I wouldn’t say it’s a choice we’re making to correct a past mistake,” Nanzer clarifies about the impetus to pay choreographers. Above all, “When we were thinking about this program, honestly, it wasn’t even a question. We were like, ‘Of course we need to compensate the creators.’ We wanted to make sure that we could tag them in the posts [and] work with these folks from a marketing perspective as well, and make sure that we’re giving them proper credit.”