Laced Records: Games companies are “leaving money on the table” with their soundtracks


While video game merchandise typically tends to centre around figures, apparel, and collector’s items, there’s an increasing demand for video game music – to the point where there are well established games-centric labels such as Laced Records.

Laced was founded by CEO Danny Kelleher in 2015, and has since worked on almost 80 IPs across 250 releases, with clients including Devolver, Bethesda, Capcom, Sega, Ubisoft, and Bandai Namco.

Of all the services that Laced provides, its record label is in the most demand. It recently partnered with Remedy once again to release the Alan Wake 2 soundtrack, which dropped on May 13 to mark the franchise’s 14th anniversary.

The soundtrack features Petri Alanko’s original score, in addition to songs featured in-game performed by singer-songwriter Poe and Martti Suosalo (who plays Ahti in both Alan Wake 2 and Control).

Laced last worked with Remedy for Control, releasing the vinyl and digital release of its soundtrack in 2020.

“Remedy are just really lovely people, and we pitched very hard to bring in Alan Wake 2 as it was something we really wanted,” Kelleher tells GamesIndustry.biz.

He notes that Remedy was really supportive and heavily involved throughout the whole process, particularly for the eventual vinyl release that both Remedy and Laced have alluded to online.


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Laced CEO Danny Kelleher

“We sent Remedy some copies of our previous vinyls because they wanted to put some of their artwork together,” Kelleher explains. “Sometimes we do all the artwork, sometimes the client wants to. With Remedy, they love to get hands-on and have creative direction on the artwork, so we’re excited to see what they come up with.”

Laced has seen increased demand for physical content in the form of its vinyl and CD releases, but sales performance can “vary massively” between AAA and indie titles.

“It’s not as simple as ‘if it’s AAA, it’s going to sell really well, if it’s indie it’s not’,” Kelleher notes. “We’ve definitely seen that if you get the right indie game, they can absolutely compete on numbers with a lot of the AAA titles we’ve signed. We just did Inscryption which has sold incredibly well and had a massive response from the community. Cult of the Lamb also did incredibly well.”

Kelleher highlights that working with indie developers is a core part of Laced’s business model in that it doesn’t want to “neglect the indie market” and wants to maintain balance between clients.

“We do have a few indie releases that come out that haven’t performed greatly, but we’re happy to [produce them] because we want to support that side of the business,” he says. “If a release supports an indie developer – especially one where it’s literally just two or three people, sometimes self-published – we love getting behind those sorts of developers where possible.”

Another area in which Laced wants to maintain balance is physical and digital.

Kelleher explains that physical media continues to succeed thanks to collectors within the gaming community, while releasing soundtracks on streaming services like Spotify provides developers with additional benefits when it comes to registering copyrights and collecting royalties.

“Historically, a lot of publishers have put their content out digitally, but may have missed opportunities or the metadata isn’t correct,” Kelleher explains. “That’s not really the fault of the publishers – this is a new world for them. What we’re trying to do is support them and show how to structure digital releases globally, make sure the composers are credited where possible, and that the royalties trickle through correctly.

“It’s not as simple as ‘if it’s AAA, it’s going to sell really well, if it’s indie it’s not'”

“Moving forward, digital is a big thing. We want to make sure that the big clients, as well as the indies, have a support network to be able to deliver the music properly.”

Kelleher says that Laced’s range of audio services outside of its record label has grown considerably over the past few years. This involves music composition, licensing, sound design and implementation, as well as finding composers and artists to make music for games.

However, the current wave of layoffs and studio closures has had an effect on this.

“We’ve had a few games that we were working on which were cancelled,” he adds. “But we’re expecting it all to pick up again as things begin to settle, hopefully towards the end of the year and going into next year.”


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Laced recently partnered with Remedy to release the Alan Wake 2 soundtrack

Laced’s record label has continued to grow in the meantime, which has been built specifically for the games industry in that it doesn’t follow the business formula already in place for film and television.

This means that instead of issuing copyright strikes against content shared online, Laced has been building a system that “selectively monetises certain assets” as publishers and developers rely on players sharing their content which often features gameplay videos that includes licensed music.

“For example, if there’s a gameplay video on YouTube or an influencer doing a dance to one of the songs TikTok, that’s fine,” Kelleher explains.

“But if someone has ripped the music from the game and just posted the music up on YouTube, that would be something that we wouldn’t take down, but we can go in and monetise on behalf of clients.”

Publishing is also a big sector for Laced, one that it wishes to grow alongside its audio services and record label.

“We want the big clients, as well as the indies, to have a support network to deliver their music properly.”

“From releasing soundtracks, we realised that a lot of companies aren’t registering their music copyrights, which means that they’re leaving a lot of money on the table by not collecting it,” Kelleher notes.

Last year, Laced set up a publishing business to register music copyrights on behalf of its clients, and began the process of collecting mechanical and performance royalties from societies such as PRS for Music.

“For the moment, [it’s all about] educating our clients, showing them how the music and film world has done this for many years, what the model looks like, then building that within games,” he explains. “So there’s a proper ecosystem and business there for music and, at that point, it should become a serious revenue stream.”

Aside from music, Laced also wants to open up to the more traditional side of gaming merchandise having partnered with Devolver to design, manufacture, and sell the developer’s items.

“I had no real intention of doing it,” Kelleher says. “But through the record label we had already set up manufacturing and e-commerce, as well as fulfilment warehouses in Europe. In the US, we had customer support and e-commerce there too. The only thing we had to change was rather than just making vinyl, we would also make cuddly toys and T-shirts.

“One of the focuses over the next 18 months is to start onboarding new merchandise clients.”

Overall, Kelleher says that Laced’s main focus for the future is to streamline the business as it works with so many partners across different departments which can result in “a lot of back and forth and approvals.”

“A lot of companies aren’t registering their music copyrights, which means that they’re leaving a lot of money on the table”

“When we’re also doing publishing, audio, merchandise, you’re usually speaking to very different departments which is like running four businesses, so that’s been a challenge,” he explains.

“What we’re doing at the minute is bringing in more of a management structure so we can effectively manage each bit of the business independently.”

On a more personal note, Kelleher just wants to see games music succeed as a medium. There are promising signs that video games music is enjoyed by an increasingly large audience, as demonstrated with the recent Games Music Festival and the Final Symphony concert in Birmingham over the weekend – the latter of which Laced put together a vinyl release for and helped the record of.

“I’ve been advocating for video games music for nine years now, saying this is a serious medium,” he says. “Now I think we’re seeing a shift to that, and what we’re trying to do is put the business model and the structure behind it.”





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