August 1, 2008 

Interview with Jennifer Gray

Jennifer Gray, is a Music Licensing Coordinator at Electronic Arts (Inc.) Canada. She’s been part of the music team since 2005 … FIFPlay had a chance to interview Jennifer and ask her some questions about FIFA 09:

Jennifer, what’s special about FIFA 09 EA Trax?
Jennifer Gray: FIFA is special every year because artist selection is really diverse. We license artists from almost every country around the world or at least those who have a team in the league. I’d say I typically license around 40 or so new songs every year for FIFA.

Can you name some of the songs in FIFA 09 soundtrack?
Jennifer Gray: The soundtrack list is confidential right now BUT I can say that we are including tracks from Chromeo, Ladytron and Junkie XL plus there are a couple of exclusives this year. Wish I could say more but the list is still under wraps and I want to keep my job!

How do you select the songs for FIFA, are you going to check the communities like FIFPlay.com to see what music fans want to have in EA Trax?
Jennifer Gray: It’s a group effort – the music supervisors work closely with the game team to come up with a dream soundtrack list and then it is my job to get as many from that list licensed as possible. FIFA is one of our marquee games. An artist gets more than 1 billion chryoned spins in the game — that’s more than a #1 record in every country! Music comes to us from all over the world. The music team gets pitched music constantly and our music supervisors slave over who to include. We’re always looking for excitement in and around an artist and it’s not just pitched music. The supervisors and game team find some pretty wicked stuff by surfing around, going to live shows and reading lots and lots – blogs, trades – that kind of thing. Often times, bands and/or band management get music to us first, before sending to their label! I can’t say specifically if we’ve been keeping an eye on FIFPlay boards or not, but I wouldn’t doubt it at all!

Have you ever asked an artists to compose a special song for FIFA?
Jennifer Gray: Sure – that happens for a lot of EA games not just FIFA. Specifically FIFA related, Paul Oakenfold created the theme for us several years ago. We have asked artists to specifically remix a song for use in a game like with Junkie XL for example. I believe FIFA Street 3 included some songs remixed by our very own internal, super talented in-house audio artists. So the answer to that would be a yes, absolutely!

Did you ever get any request from an artist or band asking EA to put his/their song in EA Trax?
Jennifer Gray: Artists approach the licensing group directly, the game team, the music supervisors pretty much every day…and they come from everywhere! It’s kind of become a bit of a saying here because it’s true – bands are always lined-up around the block for placement in an EA game.

What type of music you listen to, who is your favorite band/artist?
Jennifer Gray: I’m not ashamed to say that I am a music nerd and always have been. If I had to single out a group, I suppose I would say Depeche Mode are tops for me. I can see my friends rolling their eyes now by the way. If I was to think of a broader list of say, maybe what I listened to this week I’d say Chromeo, She Wants Revenge, The Cure, The Presets, Nine Inch Nails, Cut Copy, Prince, Interpol, Black Strobe, Late Of The Pier, Circlesquare, MSTRKRFT… Ok, I’ll stop now.

FIFA 09 soundtrack will be released as an album?
Jennifer Gray: No. The soundtrack to FIFA 2009 will not be officially released as a CD. We are a third party licensor and this means that we don’t get the rights to manufacture a CD or use the music as standalone audio when we license for use of a song in-game. That’s where ea.com/eatrax comes in. It’s our site that has iTunes links both in North America and Europe. If you go there, each song in each game has a :60 second stream for people to check out and see if they like it. If they want it and it’s available on iTunes, they can click a link right there and buy it immediately legally. If the song isn’t already on iTunes, we can help with that too. This guarantees that a new fan hypothetically in Vancouver or Milan knows exactly where to go to purchase the song. EA.com gets over 20 million unique visitors each and every month – crazy!

Are you a football fan too, what is your favorite team? Are you playing FIFA?
Jennifer Gray: I wouldn’t say that I am a football fan per se. I live in a country that lives and breathes (ice) hockey remember? I did watch the last WC tournament on television pretty faithfully with some friends but I don’t have a favourite team. I’ve been to a handful of Whitecaps games over the years. Do I play FIFA? Such an unfair question! You got me – again, music nerd more than a gamer. I have played FIFA though and to tell the truth I am terrible every single time! Believe me, you would not want me on your team – but – I’d be more than happy to tell you what you could listen to while you play and I watch.

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