There’s been a lot of Nintendo-related music news over the past year that has had me more than a little disappointed. I like to boot up a video game soundtrack while I’m working; I’m a big fan of video game music concerts and I have a small collection of albums and vinyl that I want to keep growing. And with access to video game music the best it’s ever been, I’m generally a happy bunny.
But Nintendo has always been very protective of its properties, and that goes for the music in its games. You might remember, at last year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympics, that there was a ton of video game music played during the opening ceremony – yet none of it was from a Nintendo-owned franchise. There were plans for Nintendo to make an appearance right up until 16th June, but the Big N and The Pokémon Company apparently pulled out at the last minute.
We understand. Nintendo owns the rights to its music, and it can do what it wants with it. But the real problem is that it's not doing anything with it
More recently, Nintendo has been clamping down on video game music YouTube channels. In the last six months alone, GilvaSunner has been forced to close their channel after Nintendo sent them thousands of copyright claims. And DeoxysPrime also received over 500 claims, which led to them removing all of their Nintendo music, with uploads from the Pokémon series soundtracks to almost every single Mario game’s OST being shimmied away.
We understand. Nintendo owns the rights to its music, and it can choose to do what it wants with it. But the real problem is that it's not doing anything with its music in general.
There was one brief breakthrough from The Pokémon Company, who back in February launched the Diamond & Pearl Sound Library, a cool website that would let you build playlists, access other playlists, download music, and sound files, and also see which artists had sampled some of the tunes in their music. Unfortunately, The Pokémon Company decided to close this down earlier this week – disappointing, for sure. At least it left the YouTube version of the soundtrack up and running. Small victories, eh?
But besides this, where else can we get our Nintendo music fix from?
Many other big video game companies have been releasing their soundtracks on various streaming services. Through Apple Music, Spotify, and Amazon Music, I have access to a huge amount of Capcom’s music back catalogue from Ace Attorney, Mega Man, Street Fighter, and Monster Hunter – including Monster Hunter Rise! Konami has also made many of its Castlevania soundtracks available, along with a handful of Metal Gear Solid OSTs too. And I could go on forever about the number of indie games whose musicians share their music on streaming services and also make them available to buy on Bandcamp.
I’m also probably a bit spoiled in this regard. As a big RPG fan, I’ve also got easy access to almost every single Final Fantasy soundtrack – with a handful of newer releases excluded for now – through these streaming services. And classic RPG developer Falcom has also released every Ys and Trails/Kiseki soundtrack, even going as far back as the ‘80s.
Square Enix went one step beyond, going as far as to open its own video game music YouTube channel. That means, by going to Square Enix Music, I can simply just click on a playlist and listen to Yasunori Nishiki’s Octopath Traveler OST whenever I want. Or pop on the Bravely series’ music. All for free.
Before Square Enix opened this channel, many uploads of popular video game soundtracks were being taken down across the video-sharing platform, from NieR: Automata to Final Fantasy VII Remake. But then at least it shared most of its music itself – a pretty big step in the right direction.
So, with Nintendo’s bullish approach to copyright claims, why hasn’t the company done more to give us easy access to some of the best video game music in the industry? Many of my memories with video games are so heavily associated with each game’s audio – I’m sure everyone remembers the first time they entered Peach’s Castle in Super Mario 64, especially with the calming, regal music and the bright interior. How about Ocarina of Time, and the creepy Forest Temple music? Interestingly, Mario 64 is one of the few Nintendo games to get an official worldwide soundtrack launch.
Another more recent exception to this is the Pokémon series. On Apple Music, you can grab digital versions of the Diamond & Pearl, X & Y, and HeartGold & SoulSilver Super Music Collections (what these OSTs are called) – and that’s just a handful of them. Why Sword & Shield’s soundtrack is yet to be released is beyond me, though.
Often, one of the only ways you can get Nintendo soundtracks is through pre-ordering or grabbing a special edition. I remember picking up Zelda: Skyward Sword on launch day and it coming with a 25th Anniversary CD with a handful of classic orchestral Zelda tunes. And the real reason I pre-ordered the Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition limited edition is because the European release came with a delicious-looking vinyl.
Another weird way that Nintendo released some of its soundtracks was through Club Nintendo, with Super Mario 3D World's big band sounds seeing a release on the service back when the game was first released. And games like Super Mario Galaxy (and its sequel), Mario Kart 8, and Kirby Triple Deluxe also got similar soundtracks through the service. But you couldn't, and still can't, get them any other way.
And look, everyone here at Nintendo Life often jokes about “check out this cool thing Japan gets and we don’t”, and that goes doubly for soundtrack releases. At the very least, we can import these beautiful sets, but shipping prices aren’t always kind to our wallets.
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons To Get A Lovely Second Soundtrack This June
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Making that music much more accessible would not only make fans happy, but would also give the composers the wider credit they deserve. So many Nintendo games don’t even get official soundtrack releases, meaning composer names are simply hidden away in the credits and don’t get to have their work shared in a more official capacity. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door hasn’t seen any soundtrack releases, for instance, and many people aren't familiar with the names of composers like Yoshito Hirano, Yuka Tsujiyoko, and Saki Haruyama – all of whom have continued to work on the Paper Mario series while also composing for the Fire Emblem games, too.
I’m not necessarily asking Nintendo to release all its music on all streaming services, as many of the royalties that come from those are painfully low, but I’d love just a bit more access to these games’ music. In a year where a Kirby arrangement rightfully won a Grammy Award, we still can’t listen to the music that inspired the remix officially without worrying that a fan’s upload might get taken down.
Well, at least we’ve got the option of walking around with our Switch in our backpacks with our headphones plugged in to listen to the Smash Ultimate and Super Mario 3D All-Stars soundtracks, at least. Perhaps Nintendo could release a music app for the console?
Despite the difficulties, I’m sure many of us want to see Nintendo be a bit freer with its music. With the boom in video game vinyl, companies launching their own channels, and the much-wider availability of soundtracks, Nintendo’s relative absence in the market — especially in the West — continues to be disheartening.
Share your thoughts on what you'd like to see Nintendo do with its music. A new Nintendo streaming service? A perk attached to a Nintendo Switch Online subscription? More worldwide soundtrack releases?
The basic premise is correct — that Nintendo needs to better "use" its back catalog of music.
That being said, I am not sure that the Olympics situation applies to this discussion as there were other substantial factors at play.
"Nintendo being Nintendo." They've always been hyper-protective of their IP. More so than the other platform holders. In Nintendo's eyes, any visibility of their IP beyond their consent and/or control somehow devalues the IP.
I think Nintendo might have something up their sleeve. I know it seems unlikely, but maybe they're working on some kind of way to get access to their music.
I know these developments are disappointing, as I do listen to some Nintendo music on YouTube from time to time, however I have respect for the way Nintendo handle their IP. They don't mess about.
@Sensible I'm wondering myself because of the fact they shut down their own Pokemon Diamond and Pearl Sound Library around the same time as the fan YouTube channels. So maybe something is happening. They should just put everything on Spotify and digital platforms like SEGA has.
Sadly I doubt Nintendo is going to do anything about this, at least for the foreseeable future. While there is an obvious outcry from fans desperately wanting their music through all sorts of formats, what we do get... is practically nothing.
Japan gets the full OST releases on CD, and if you want those its a hassle to import, or a hassle to find it for resale via ebay or other sites. As mentioned there are some soundtracks on streaming services, but thats just only for a select few games, and ONLY some of the biggest games. What if I want to listen to the OST of a mostly forgotten gamecube game, for instance? To youtube! - oh, wait, they delisted the soundtrack off the face of the site. Guess I won't listen at all now.
Its just another case of Nintendo doing a Nintendo. Zero effort, zero logic as to why they are doing nothing aside from "we don't have to", despite people being willing to pay. Its ridiculous.
Nintendo sells soundtracks. If you want their music just buy those. For all we know the YouTube crackdown is so that they can make their own channel but they aren’t going to do that while people can access their work however.
So glad I still have my Nintendo soundtracks on OG cd, no one can take that away at least
@Magician Not always. Remember, Zelda CDI managed to exist. I almost feel like that's where all of Nintendo's hyper-protectiveness comes from, they're afraid that something like that is going to happen again, and permanently ruin the franchise that its associated with (which, to be fair, isn't an entirely unfounded fear. Look at what Other M did to Metroid, and what Star Fox Zero did to Star Fox.). Honestly, knowing how legendarily petty Nintendo can be, I wouldn't be all that surprised if a lot of this came from, on one of the few times that Nintendo's executives did use the internet, they happened to stumble on some random Morshu meme that scared them, since it shows the internet not only not ignoring one of their worst failures, but glorifying it, and the last thing that Nintendo would want would be for those games to be acknowledged.
Nintendo is the kind of company that would copyright strike a baby with the name "Bowser".
Or have them join their company, I don't know, this company confuses me.
I apply Occam's Razor - the simplest explanation is usually the preferred. In this case - Nintendo doesn't want to be in the music business - so they aren't.
Why? Cause its Nintendo I guess, they're so stubborn to change even if it means being anti consumer to ridiculous levels.
But I like to point out it's almost always Nintendo of Japan pulling stunts like this. Nintendo of America at least isn't a decade behind
I don't expect them to change anytime soon.
Thats why I'm all for downloading their music by other means if they refuse to provide one of their own.
Once again, this is only a conversation you would be having cause it's Nintendo, cause no other video game company is this ridiculous about their IPs.
@Ryu_Niiyama CDs are not popular outside Japan anymore. Young people don't even have CD players. People stream here. Nintendo's Japan headquarters is stuck in the past when it comes to the internet, even Reggie said as much in his book and that he was frustrated with them.
It seems like for the longest time video games just didn't get much love in the way of soundtracks, in a fact a lot of my favorite game soundtracks seemed to have never gotten any decent official way for me to buy them.
I feel like we're going to be stuck in a perpetual cycle where a big Nintendo music channel gets struck down, the next biggest one takes their place and so on and so forth. I wish they'd offer SOMETHING to listen their soundtracks on but they seem more content with taking away options than giving more of them lately.
Also, don't say anything but Video Game Resources have all of the modern Pokemon game osts if you're looking for them. It's what I've used for the past few years and it works pretty well all things considered. BUT DON'T TELL A SOUL OK?!
They're out of touch with their audience is why they're so behind. They only care about the business and nothing else. I don't get why they don't launch a service where you can legally listen to and download game music even if it means paying for it which I would be quite prepared to do.
Nintendo doesn't want to deal with the hassle of licensing its music in America, plain and simple. It would be a treat for the fans but there is little revenue in streaming and it would require them to add a legal team to oversee paying their various artists as well as fielding requests for their music to be used in commercials, etc. They're a toy company, their goal is to make money and devoting time and money to this issue does very little for their bottom line.
oh also, radio.gamethattune.com just sayin
I recently purchased the Splatune 2 soundtrack from Japan. It took about 3 weeks and I can’t read most of the information. But that’s okay because it is great!
Just yesterday at work I listened to about an hour of K.K. Slider.
I would be very happy if their music was more available but I doubt they will change course.
Anyone asked Nintendo? There is usually a boring reason for stuff like this.
@Clyde_Radcliffe I didn’t comment about popularity. I commented about access. Every OST I import, I rip to FLAC and put the CD on a shelf, but that gets me legal access to the music I want. And again per the last part of my comment Nintendo may be preparing to offer other options. But we have no information with which to say either way. And if they aren’t it’s a ROI situation.
@Jgangsta187 I think is the nail on the head. Nintendo still sees video games primarily as toys and not as art. It would also explain why their approach to preserving older titles is so woeful.
@Ryu_Niiyama 95% of average human beings don’t want to and won’t go through that effort just to listen to the skippy bippy bowling ost legitimately
Because this is nintendo we're talking about, I mean come on this is a very nintendo thing too do.
Simple. Nintendo’s music, like it’s characters is tied to a family product. If they start licensing it out, then it can be tarnished by being put into context with something less reputable.
As for selling it, I’m guessing Nintendo doesn’t think the music holds up as songs out of a video game setting.
Just put most if not all of your music onto Spotify and other similar services. That's all you need to do Nintendo, and it's such a simple job as well. Stop being so damn stubborn, selfish, and greedy.
Every time you take down projects, channels, and groups dedicated to your franchises, you just tick off more and more of your fans. It's also slowly ruining your reputation to both your fans and the general audience.
Its weird that Nintendo is so behind usually they are at the forefront and fully support their user base.
I would pay any price for a Paper Mario: Color Splash vinyl set - that may be my single favorite Nintendo soundtrack! So many good ones though.
You can listen Nintendo musics from YouTube and you can convert the YouTube video into MP3.
It's a shame Nintendo is like this. There is so much great music from their games. Hopefully one day they will come around. Heck Atlus did so maybe there's hope some day.
@Funneefox So then your hypothetical “95%” won’t have access to the music legally then.
cause nintendo likes to live in the middle ages. those f**ers
If Nintendo absolutely wants to profit off their music, they should make an app to allow people to listen to their songs for $2 or $3 per month or something like that.
They aren't just denying us they are denying themselves because if they released the music for purchase or on Spotify etc they would suddenly have a new revenue stream that could make them a pretty penny or two with very little effort.
It is just stupid frankly.
To answer the questions of the article...
1. It's not part of their business model.
2. They are using the music, it helps add value to their games which is part of their business model.
3. They aren't "behind" anything since the examples you gave are hardly industry-wide.
4. Major kudos for acknowledging that they own the rights and can do what they want! Finally NL admits it! =P
5. Maybe we're all "a bit spoiled."
I wish Nintendo would make like a Nintendo Spotify
I don't think NINTENDO is behind. They make games not music. Game music is more popular because of the net.
Playing field is leveled by now so of course Nintendo looks behind.
Worth mentioning that the Kirby: Planet Robobot OST is also available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music, and probably other services: https://open.spotify.com/album/2YK3Pjm8viuZ09wTTNeQCq?si=cZNFd09-T7K21ynBDQYEUw
I'm sure HAL is the company to thank for this, not Nintendo, though why it's the only Kirby OST to officially end up on streaming services I have no idea.
I don´t remember another game company doing what Nintendo does: strike channels. Is the Nintendo the only one?
@Ryu_Niiyama I find we agree with this. I listen to unauthorized uploads on YouTube so I won't claim a higher horse in this fight. But, if you want to listen to these songs legally the CDs are available and it's not like disc burners are expensive or hard to use (I found one on Amazon for $30 and works on laptops through USB. They are not hard to find or expensive at all).
I love the 1970s funk band Black Smoke and you cannot buy their CDs anywhere (as they do not exist) You can only find LPs that were released in 1976. But, I'm not going to pretend that I'm entitled to their work available on YouTube for free because the only way to listen to their work is through vinyl. Would it be nice if the rights holders uploaded their stuff on Spotify? Ahhhh hell yeah! But, am I entitled to it... no. For the record a LOT of music from the 1960s-1970s has not seen the light of day on ANY digital storefront so this is not even a Nintendo issue.
Also, movie soundtracks are notoriously hard to find on streaming services. Try finding the original Scream soundtrack... it's not easy.
I'm sure Nintendo has their reasons, they just haven't done a great job communicating or explaining them to the public. We don't have to agree with their reasoning but something is better than nothing.
Though they really don't have to explain anything if they choose not to. They've certainly earned the right to have agency over their decisions in the gaming industry.
Nintendo are just boring. That’s the reason.
Any journalists ask Nintendo of America or Europe for comment?
Nintendo is not smart. They attack their most loyal fans. They should cultivate their fanbase. They could learn some lessons from other companies that do that like LEGO but they are too busy doing whatever the hell they want to do.
Nintendo is a toy company. They want to make money more than anything, simple as that. Some team there has probably determined the ROI for putting music on streaming services isn't feasible/worth expanding into a separate industry. It's nice when something like the Link's Awakening Remake and original OST release happens, but the sales numbers on that probably also support only doing this sort of thing occasionally. Most people don't like to buy music and streaming services pay out peanuts.
If you're serious about game music you really should just set up your own streaming server. It's easier than ever with a spare computer or raspberry pi running Plex, Subsonic, Jellyfin, etc. Just about any game will have a soundtrack rip floating around somewhere. And no matter how inclusive or popular game music gets, we're not going to see stuff like Pictionary or Legendary Axe on Spotify. Things might be good now but who knows when soundtracks might vanish from streaming services.
If Nintendo put a music app on the Switch and put their vast sound collection on there and added it to the NSO Expansion Pak, I promise you it would explode with subscribers.
I literally think the reason they haven't done it is there is no sound producers free who they could give the job to. They won't carve out resources and time for it, no it would have to be a weekends and nights passion project from some senior sound person at Nintendo.
@SwitchplayerJohn People like listening to music on the go while doing other stuff. That sounds like a neat idea but still doesn't solve this.
Nintendo should make a youtube account and put their music there. It will take a while to put everything and organize it, but it will be worth it.
We live in an age where we could get music at any time, not sure what the whole problem of this is all about. There's millions of recording devices out there now, if you want to listen to a specific music just record it at your fingertip, that's what I do. Phones, capture device, recorder cameras, recording apps, even website that allows you to download music video and covert them to mp3, etc. All the tools to get music are there, just use em. Nintendo ain't giving you the music cause they knew you could get it yourself.
I'm just hoping they don't go after SiIvaGunner (not to be confused with the channel Nintendo already eviscerated GiIvaSunner). Their high quality rips without Nintendo being among them just wouldn't be the same; heck, one of the most prevalent jokes on the channel, 7 GRAND DAD, is in reference to bootleg of a Nintendo property, so Nintendo going after them would be a huge blow on numerous fronts.
Nintendo is just protecting themselves for better and worse.
Worse, we “aren’t allowed” to have fun with music.
Better, Nintendo seems to have source codes to their entire back catalogue. While Square Enix lost the source code to the first Kingdom Hearts.
@Wexter yep and I don’t even wanna know all the licensing and royalties agreements behind the scenes. It’s obvious Nintendo isn’t anti music or they wouldn’t have cds printed and the copyright strike shows they care about the distribution and how (as well as the quality) their work is handled; but there is more behind the scenes than “Nintendo is out of touch”. But this is a comment section so what can you do.
Sheesh, couldn’t Nintendo at least vend soundtrack CD’s in markets outside of Japan? I love my Xenoblade and Splatoon albums from Japan, but that shipping gets expensive.
@GrailUK that would be too easy. Pitchforks don’t sharpen themselves.
Most companies, especially indie ones, can accept people are going to upload their music, people are going to make remixes/play it on things they're doing, and spread of said music is going to advertise people to their game when they look up the song playing.
Its how i found a lot of games actually, sometimes I just hear a reeeaaallly good track and then get interested in trying the game out. Shadow of the colossus comes to mind because hearing the soundtrack uploaded on.... sigh roblox of all places over 12 years ago made me look up the full track and then the full game.
Nintendo for some reason is insecure about their IP, there's protecting it in the form of shutting down those making a profit/claiming their music as their own, then there's just removing any source of their tracks as if nobody is going to assume its nintendo/one of their franchises... if no harm is being done, nintendo just looks like a firing squad in a random shopping plaza.
This is definitely one of those "to each their own". I like music within a game but it's not something I can just sit and listen to outside of that environment. That's okay, though, probably makes me the oddball. Nothing new, there.
Maybe Nintendo just doesn't want the money I would spend on the OST for Kirby Super Star officially.
Umm… the internet is also popular, but that don’t stop Nintendo from… nintendoing it up lol 😝
That makes no sense from a business perspective and the fact they are following through on their copyright strikes shows they obviously do care.
It is just another example of Nintendo cutting off their own nose to spite their face cause they could make a lot of money selling the music for their games.
I am flabbergasted by Nintendo's inability to adapt to the modern era of gaming. I don't know why they think this is helping their brand; it's only hurting it. It's like they're the best in the biz when it comes to making games, but they're bottom tier in just about every other category compared to other game devs.
If I made game music, why should some random YouTuber profit off my work by doing next to f all?
Nintendo continues to punish their fans while offering no legal means to obtain what's being removed from YouTube. They don't even have to make these albums available for purchase, they could simply stream them from their own YouTube account. Loads of artists already do that
I honestly think they do it to take down let's players. They HATE those. Letting the algorithm strike anything that has your music makes sure they can't stream, review or do whatever with your games!
@SwitchplayerJohn Tying soundtrack listening into NSO makes a lot of sense if Nintendo really want to build on their Nintendo Accounts users. If Nintendo could find the resources, maybe they could do a mobile app too that ties into NSO subscriptions?
At this point Nintendo will probably start their own version of Spotify and charge you a monthly fee just to listen to music from a game you already own.
Maybe they're about to add all their games' music to the Switch online service...
Maybe they are about to release all their music on the big streaming services? One can dream and hope.
As it is, for VG music I'm left listening to fan music and the OST for games from other studios. It's definitely hard to understand why Nintendo would want to foster in gamers a tendency to pump themselves up with their competitor's music and IP.
I've been collecting soundtracks from Nintendo (and other companies) for a while and I now have a pretty big collection but even then I agree that they're not doing much. Their major release tend to get soundtracks (Odyssey, Skyward Sword, Kirby, AC, Splatoon, Fire Emblem, Pokemon, Xenoblade...) but it's a lot of hit and miss, and entire generations also went by with barely any soundtrack release. Looking at you, gamecube.
It's still possible to get the old stuff, but like, F-Zero or F-Zero are over $500, more for their arrange version. There's a fantastic arrange of Mario Land made by the Mario Freak Orchestra but barely anyone heard of it because it was from 89 and now cost over $800. A ton of games are also in between, things like Stadium, Mario Party, Mario Tennis, heck, Golden Sun only seem to be available through weird promos. Funny that the article mentions Xenoblade DE, where is that soundtrack? We only have access to the sound selection, and it's missing some important tracks.
Even more recent games don't have game soundtrack release. I would love nothing more but to own a Hyrule Warriors soundtrack, or Cadence of Hyrule, but nope. Smash Bros has some great opportunity for soundtrack too (but at least for that one I understand potential copyright nightmares...). The article mentions Pokemon... There still isn't an OST release for Sword or Shield, and all the DLCs have dropped now.
Like the article said, all major companies release soundtracks. Activision and Ubisoft tend to be digital only, which sucks but at least it's there. SE goes above and beyond, SEGA/Atlus also (and they finally released the full opening of P5 Royale recently <3), Capcom is decent, heck even Konami...
It's really just Nintendo being Nintendo as always, and it's painful as a collector.
I see people saying "buy the soundtracks then"... the thing is, i do. I import quite a lot of videogame soundtracks from Japan, and i own a decent amount of them.
BUT, here is the thing. Only a few are released. HAL, Monolith and Intelligent Systems are pretty consistent, i think it's due to them managing their own music. Beyond that, you get your marios and zeldas done by external companies, and little more.
Nintendo has always been more interested in using their soundtracks for promotion o "collector's editions", with single cds with a selection of the osts. We get way less than before, when the nintendo Club had cds as rewards.
And even then... it's hard to ignore the idea of just listening to music via streaming. Idk, they dont make things easy.
please put the Splatoon soundtracks on spotify
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