Silver Addy spurs video game scorer GameBeat’s expansion into spot music

Barely a year after its move into commercial music, Matteson-based GameBeat Studios picked up a Silver Addy last March from the Madison Ad Federation (MAF) for a theme for the Kalahari Resort Hotel near Wisconsin Dells.

GameBeat president Darryl Duncan was a staff writer from Warner Bros. and A&M in Los Angeles, writing and producing for artists including R. Kelly, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Chaka Khan. “I exited the mainstream music industry to have something where I didn’t need a hit record to feed my kids,” he said.

Duncan was vacationing with his family at the hotel, which boasts the largest indoor waterpark in the country. “It’s magically decorated with imported African art, truly amazing,” Duncan said. “They had this off-the- shelf elevator music playing in the lobby. If you saw the place you’d know how wrong that was.”

Duncan wrote to Kalahari owner Todd Nelson and proposed a new corporate music theme, a blend of African and pop music a la “The Lion King.” GameBeat got the contract, and Duncan’s theme now plays in the hotel and in the Kalahari’s TV and radio spots.

Kalahari’s ad agency, Madison-based Bensman Advertising, submitted the theme to the MAF, which awarded GameBeat a Silver Addy for best sound and music with lyrics. The Kalahari theme now goes on to the Midwest regional Addy competition, whose winners compete for national Addys from the American Ad Federation.

GameBeat is expanding from its core business in video game music to more ad spots. New clients are a Sears Craftsman national TV spot for Ogilvy & Mather, and a Toyota radio spot for Burrell. Duncan said commercials now account for 20-25% of GameBeat’s business. He hopes to bring that figure up to 50% by the end of the year.

“I’m a songwriter by trade,” Duncan said. “With games it’s more music than songs. I’m trying to use more of my full abilities. It’s just a matter of convincing agencies that a game developer can write jingles, which has been easy given my background.”

Duncan spent three years heading the audio department for Florida game designer Electronic Arts, then returned to his native Chicago and founded GameBeat in 1998. GameBeat has scored games including The Sims, Dance Dance Revolution, and Zoo Tycoon, for game publishers including Electronic Arts, Microsoft, and Mattel Interactive. They just completed the music for a series of online Scooby Doo, Spiderman, and Dr. Seuss games for Kraft Lunchables through 141 Worldwide.

Gamebeat has a full-time staff of seven and is planning a move to a larger south suburban facility as its spot business expands.

GameBeat Studios is at 129 Treehouse Road, Suite 23, Matteson. Call 708/283-8860 or see

? by Ed M. Koziarski,