With Grand Theft Auto (GTA) Online’s latest update comes yet another affirmation of the music and video games industries’ growing partnership, as the two businesses continue to intertwine. On Tuesday (July 20th), GTA developer Rockstar Games announced that it’s soundtracking the update with music entirely from its own record label, CircoLoco Records.
Rockstar Games co-founded CircoLoco Records with eponymous Ibiza club culture brand CircoLoco in May, and the label released the compilation album Monday Dreamin’ in early July following four EP drops in June. Now, Rockstar is injecting the EPs into the game alongside a new remix of the whole project from Seth Troxler, one of the DJs on the original project. For players to access the remix, they have to find four separate media sticks — representing the four EPs — hidden across the Grand Theft Auto map. After finding the media sticks, players can listen to the music while driving and turning on the in-game radio.
The new music comes as GTA Online launches Los Santos Tuners, which features new storylines and content focused around the game’s already well-established car culture. Beyond the CircoLoco music, the new update has a few other musical features. Electronic artist Moodymann will release new music in the game alongside artists Nez, Channel Tres and Gangsta Boo, and players can now customize their in-game radios to flag their favorite pre-made stations.
Los Santos Tuners is just the latest update showing off Rockstar’s music focus. December’s Cayo Perico update gave players the Music Locker, a virtual nightclub featuring sets from resident DJs Moodymann, Palms Trax and Keinemusik. Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine also made cameos through the update, and Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas and rapper Flying Lotus curated their own radio stations, with Tierra Wack joining FlyLo.
Music artists and their labels are collaborating closely with video game companies. In the past year, Travis Scott, Lil Nas X, J Balvin and Kaskade all played virtual shows in popular games Fortnite and Roblox, while Swae Lee and Ozuna both partnered with and invested in esports startup XSET. As the space becomes trendier and will continue to grow, Rockstar and other popular game companies are poised for more music partnerships, and more CircoLoco/Rockstar crossovers are a low hanging opportunity.
Starting a record label wasn’t as much of a stretch as it would seem for a video game company and party promoter. Both Rockstar and CircoLoco have been closely associated with music for years, with CircoLoco helping break artists across the electronic and dance genres while Rockstar has been keenly focused for years on getting music in its games like GTA and Red Dead Redemption. Rockstar Games co-founder and president Sam Houser worked at BMG as an executive before founding Rockstar.
“This came from a passion for music, and it brings an opportunity for us to come together and join forces to push music,” Rockstar Games’s director of music Ivan Pavlovich told Rolling Stone of the label partnership when it launched in May. “Music’s been part of our DNA since day one. Sam [Houser] grew up on dance music, a lot of us who work at the company grew up on dance music, it’s a way to come together with our friends and support this scene, these artists and all this music.”