The Sonic 3 Music Ramble

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Morris, Jun 22, 2022.

  1. ParadoxDreams

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    Sorry, I never ended up making the website for a multitude of reasons. I still have all the research & materials I had acquired from trying to make it. I sourced most of my non-Sonic 3 information around books, news reports, interviews, available photographs, public comments from past Jackson producers, and a handful of friends who have had connections with previous Jackson producers. I chose "Dangerous" in specific because of how under-represented it feels in comparison to Michael's other works, being a landmark title in Jackson's discography thanks to his complete freedom during its production. "HIStory: Past, Present, & Future - Book I" is an album that also bleeds into that research, since they are both connected in many ways, and of course "Sonic The Hedgehog 3" fits inbetween the two, so it was important to also document it.
     
  2. Ben2k9

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    I love the 90s era Jackson stuff, Dangerous being my fave album its great to hear all this research!

    We all know the direct Jam sample in CNZ but it also contains direct samples of the glass smashing sounds from In the Closet too. I also strongly suspect the main percussion section of CNZ is michael beatboxing.
     
  3. Ashura96

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    Not really a re-release if it's just making an existing version available on a newer platform. Of course that one is de-listed now.
     
  4. Morris

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    If I recall correctly, SEGA was allowed to re-release the original Sonic 3 game, but they couldn't release new versions of the game (such as a widescreen remake).

    With SiM, as Brad mentioned once when talking about writing the song with MJ, he simply didn't bother asking for credit, which would be a bit different from what could have happened with Hard Times.
     
  5. Azookara

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    So, to try to make sense of the timeline for a minute, using what's been discussed and documented here..

    1. Michael Jackson, a Sonic fan, comes to Sega HQ to meet the team behind Sonics 1&2 and congratulate them for their work
    2. While he's there, someone on the dev team (willing to bet it was Naka lol) ask if he'd like to compose music for Sonic 3; he agrees
    3. MJ gets his current producer Brad Buxer to collect and ringlead a group of musicians and help them make the OST
    4. The team creates 41 "cues" for the OST (potentially including a digitized version of "Black or White"); sends demos to Sonic Team staff
    5. Mid 1993 and deep into a tour, MJ is growing disinterested, particularly due to sound quality from the Genesis soundchip; he leaves the work to his team
    6. Around the same time, Sega makes a deal to release Sonic 3 in February 1994 to meet a McDonalds Happy Meal tie-in; Sonic 3 splits in two to meet expectations
    7. Possibly in combo of the expedited deadline and cold feet, Sega gets their Sound Team (plus Cube/Opus Corp) to make an OST in case MJ's team doesn't pull through
    8. 10-15 composers throw their contributions into the ring starting approx. mid 1993, creating a new, second soundtrack
    9. August 1993, MJ allegations become public, Sega of Japan and America start to (at least for a few years) distance themselves from MJ
    10. Progress is well underway on finishing/polishing up the second OST since I assume internally it's been fully accepted as the one to go with after the controversy
    11. Buxer continues holding onto the demos through mid to later 1993; uses one to help create "Stranger in Moscow" with MJ
    12. Late November, Buxer sends in whatever he can to Sega (whether by desire of himself/Jackson, contractual obligation, or request from Sonic Team is unsure)
    13. Sega implements their additions less than two months before the game's release; with Michael's single contribution either left unused or simply uncredited
    14. The resulting OST is a hard collision between the two soundtracks, overall being the Sega Sound Team OST with 10 tracks transplanted from MJ's OST
    15. This somehow either went under Sega execs's noses and caused many headaches later, OR they knew and let it happen despite any future issues it could cause
    16. Later releases of Sonic 3, as early as S&K, start omitting/replacing tracks by the MJ team (in S&K, the Knuckles and mini-boss themes)
    17. Sonic & Knuckles Collection releases in 1996 for Windows PC with the full Sound Team OST (albeit in midi/FM format); unknown whether deliberate or an error

    And so on, and so on, to present day.

    I'm not sure if this is THE most accurate understanding of everything presented, and some of it is definitely conjecture. But at the very least, it's the most content understanding for me in the past 15 years it's rattled my brain. This game's history is a clusterfuck, guys.
     
  6. Loop

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  7. pkderbar

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    The decision to split the game would have come around the end of 1992 or beginning of 1993, Roger Hector says it happened pre-Alpha. They didn't make a decision to skip the 93 Holiday season Midway through the year and Spinball was conceived as one of several substitute Sonic games to release to market that year instead.

    Naka joined the staff on the condition he could work with STI instead of Sega of America and the tradeoff was that he would need to also produce Spinball, so it would logically have to have been late 92 or early 93.
     
  8. The Joebro64

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  9. ParadoxDreams

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    I've been thinking about it recently, how before the discovery of "Hard Times" by the Jetzons, everyone assumed that Ice Cap Zone was either "Smooth Criminal" or "Who Is It". Then afterwards everyone dropped those assumptions, but I still think either of those two songs could've still been an influence for Ice Cap Zone.

    "Smooth Criminal" was a song they had done for the previous leg of the "Dangerous World Tour" in 1992, and Brad was a keyboardist for the tour. As I've mentioned, he was promoted to sound director in 1993, and they would've been rehearsing that track by the time the final demos were completed. I'm not 100% sure, but I'm pretty confident that Brad does the strings in the live version, like what was commonly believed to be what was taken.

    "Who Is It" is known to be one of the earliest tracks that Brad worked on with Michael in early 1990, and one that would help build Jackson's trust in Buxer. There's also mention of that track in another Mix DAT for something Tour-related, but I'm not 100% what the tape holds or how it related to the tour.

    It's not unlikely that these songs could've been influences, especially since Carnival Night Zone features two songs it takes from, "Jam" & "Entry of the Gladiators".
     
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  10. pkderbar

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    This suggests they were working on the abandoned Sonic 3D until June of 1993 before development stopped because R&D advised the SVP wouldn't be usable. Retro Wiki says that Sonic 3D was an isometric camera game like the later Travelers Tales game, so did any assets get transferred from that failed build or did it never get past engine tests?

    If they started in June then perhaps the fall 93 decision to split makes sense. They must have had one hell of a development crunch, which could explain the chaotic nature of the Sonic 3 final build which has a lot of oddities compared to 3K.

    It could uld explain the October build being very buggy.
     
  11. ParadoxDreams

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    Sonic 3's 2D incarnation definitely started before June. Knuckles' near-final design was already done by April & we have concept art of his multiple previous designs, including his Hedgehog design that shows the game being a 2D Platformer.

    It's interesting to me, I wonder which design of Knuckles was shown off to Jackson / the Buxer team back in March. I would assume a later Mole design, but I'd be pretty sweet if they were shown the Hedgehog design.
     
  12. evilhamwizard

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    I think despite what a lot of people say about any sort of allegations that went on around the time of Sonic 3's development, I think one area that people should explore more into is contract law.

    Forget about Michael Jackson for a moment, and think about the terms and conditions that both parties (Sega and the song writing team) potentially agreed upon and wrote on paper. You have to remember that back in 1993, the concept of having music licensing involved with video games was quite rare. The other thing is that you have to realize that Sega as a company probably wasn't as forward thinking about the games they made when opportunities would eventually come about to rerelease games. Understanding the terms of the contract that was negotiated and signed between Sega and the artists who wrote the songs is the key to understanding the entire situation, from the decisions made in the past to the current predicament today.

    This is my hypothesis of what occurred back then and how and why it applies even today.

    The main issue that persists from the beginning up to now, in my opinion, has always been about ownership rights. One thing out of all of this that I'm 99% sure of is that besides the contract work done within Japan (between SoJ and CUBE/OPUS corp) and SoJ's own sound team, is that Sega does NOT own exclusive rights to the contract work given by Brad Buxer and his sound team, and they never did. When Sonic 3 was in development, a written contractual agreement between Sega and Brad Buxer's song writing crew was most likely made that gave Sega the rights to use and/or interpret the works that Brad Buxer and his team provided with permission (either it was SoA or SoJ is anyone's guess, but I'd imagine this was a SoA thing since MJ visited STI as well during this time). What the terms of the agreement were are completely unknown, but given that legal litigation occurred a decade ago about possible owed royalties, I would wager that the contract guaranteed royalties for whatever copies of "Sonic the Hedgehog 3" were sold for the "Sega Genesis video game/entertainment system". The terms and conditions of the contract didn't give Sega any exclusive ownership of any of the work contracted by this specific crew, so this would've restricted Sega to what they could/couldn't do with some of the music that they were given. For instance, Sega didn't have the rights to sell a soundtrack containing Brad Buxer's music, they couldn't use it in marketing, and they would have to negotiate with the rights holders every time the music was to be used with permission. It's not known if these rights were meant to expire eventually either. Compare this to the contract work done through OPUS/Cube, or Sega of Japan's own sound team, where they were able to negotiate full ownership of all the works created.

    I think the decision to use Brad's tracks in the first place was a creative one rather than a purely marketing decision. If Sonic CD is anything to go by, it's possible that the tracks were chosen because someone thought they were better, at least for an American audience, which was always the thing with Sonic in particular since he was made pretty much for an American audience in mind from the very beginning.

    However, this kind of complicated things as now Sega only really legally owned the rights to SOME of the music in Sonic 3, not everything or nothing. Obviously any work done under employment with Sega themselves meant that any work Howard Drossin and the Sega Sound Team would do would be completely owned by Sega. But the work Brad Buxer and his crew did would be the exception, which would eventually become a headache I think Sega realized would've been an issue right from the start.

    When development of the first half of Sonic 3 wrapped up and work began on the second half, Sega had no issue using some of the music Brad Buxer produced in Sonic 3 and selling it that way. But I think Sega realized at the time that they were missing out on a larger piece of the profit pie by giving some of it to Brad Buxer's writing crew. So it was decided that Sonic & Knuckles would be treated as a brand new game (at least by name) and would contain zero music from the contractual agreement that Sega had made with them. This meant - a new title theme, new title screen, new Knuckles theme etc. I think it might've been possible that there was a brief moment where maybe Sega wanted to continue using Brad Buxer's tracks for Sonic & Knuckles, but the idea might've been abandoned for various reasons from every party involved (either it be the sound quality thing, the MJ allegation thing, or whatever, take your pick or all the above). This way, Sonic & Knuckles would be a product that Sega owned the rights to in every regard. The lock on mechanic was an additional bonus where they could theoretically still use the Brad Buxer tracks when combined with a purchased copy of Sonic 3, as long as Sonic & Knuckles standalone didn't contain Brad Buxer's compositions. This also gave Sega an opportunity to sell Sonic & Knuckles' soundtrack on CD, since they actually owned all the tracks on the CD, which they wouldn't have been able to do with Sonic 3.

    So Sonic 3 and Knuckles came and went, and it would be around 3 years or so before the game would resurface again. The next release of Sonic 3 came in the form of the Sonic & Knuckles Collection for the PC in 1997. For this release, Sega decided to use the original compositions that can be found in Origins. The decision to use the tracks could've been possibly a combination of legal reasons and technical reasons (since they wanted to use MIDI rather than prerecorded music). The contract that Sega agreed to with Brad Buxer's song writing crew possibly only allowed the use of the songs in the original Mega Drive version only, or it's possible that Sega of Japan just wasn't interested in paying royalties again. This would also explain those specific tracks' absence from the Screensaver part of the collection, as only those Brad Buxer songs are missing from the sound selection. Sonic Jam would be released later that same year with all of Brad Buxer's songs intact, but who knows if there was another negotiation for this release or if the contract allowed usage of the music as long as it was meant for a video game console, whereas the PC collection might've been considered a different distinction legally (PC/computer software vs entertainment).

    Sonic 3 wouldn't see another release until the Sonic Mega Collection in 2002. One thing you have to remember with Sega (especially Sega of America), the people/higher ups who worked for the company weren't entirely the same every few years or so. The Sega of 1989 was different from the Sega of 1994, which was different from the Sega of 1997, which was different from the Sega of 2002, 2006, etc. I think as time went by, the idea that there were special conditions for any rerelease of Sonic 3 was forgotten about as the old guard left Sega and the new guard came in. Sega went through a few corporate structural changes throughout the 2000s, the first of which began sometime in 2001/2002 when the company became a third party developer for other publishers. When a company restructures itself, a lot of things get lost in the change. Aside from employees, knowledge of prexisting things like company assets (legal agreements, source code, documents, etc) that aren't thought to be necessary going forward at the time are quickly discarded. It's possible that whatever knowledge of any existing contractual agreements with past software was just simply lost or thrown away, and the new staff that came to replace the old weren't aware of it.

    And so Sonic 3 continued to be rereleased quite a few times throughout the 2000s without incident. At the same time, those who were contracted to work on the soundtrack for the game probably forgot about it or didn't think too highly of it to reconsider (I think if your career rode on the success of Michael Jackson, I don't think you'd give two shits about Sonic the Hedgehog).

    However, the issue in regards to music ownership and rights would come to a head once again when interest in the identity behind Sonic 3's soundtrack became a huge interest. Suddenly, people started caring A LOT about Sonic 3's soundtrack and the fact that Michael Jackson of all people were possibly behind it. This revelation caused people to reach out to the composers who worked on the game asking for clarification on the work that they contributed to the game. Before this happened, I don't think many really cared about their contributions to the project. To Brad Buxer and crew, Sonic 3 was probably thought to be a "once and done" project, quickly forgotten before moving on to another profitable project. But the sudden attention was probably something that spurred their decision to look into what the hubbub was all about. It was probably at this time when people began contacting Brad Buxer and the song writing crew that they suddenly realized that Sega was still selling Sonic 3 in making bank off of the Virtual Console, DS, console, and Steam rereleases of the game as well as possible past compilations. The only issue was that, possibly, this went against the terms of the contract that was originally written in 1993 between the artists and Sega. This was money that I think the song writing crew felt was owed, and if the law favors the song writers' rights, they are owed quite a LOT of money.

    This was the reason Sonic 3 wasn't really acknowledged starting with the 2010s on. It's possible that negotiations were held on and off throughout the years to try and get the legal clearing to use the music once again. However, Sega owes people a lot of money and they aren't exactly sure what the original contract might have entailed, and the song writers know their rights as anyone reasonably should. Music rights is still a gigantic issue to this day, and was a big issue even back then, so most pop song writers (especially the big ones) KNOW their rights and know what they own. This is a game that every party except Sega is familiar with.

    I think Sega's ultimate goal, besides succeeding in a renegotiating a new contract with the song writers, would be to eventually own all of Brad Buxer and his team's contributions. It's not known if the option ever became available to Sega at some point, but I'm sure that if it did it would have costed Sega a lot more money than they would've liked. Also note that this wouldn't clear Sega of any past discrepancy or unpaid royalties, so those would have to be cleared before any renegotiations can occur. But good luck trying to do book keeping on 20+ years of rereleases and sales! But it's also possible that Brad Buxer and his song writer's aren't interested in selling, and why would they? If Sega would've honored whatever contract they signed from almost 30 years ago, not only would the crew gain past royalties, but they would also be clued in on more royalties for the 1000 eventual future rereleases of Sonic 3. So outright selling the rights to Sega probably wouldn't be in anyone's interests, especially if royalties seem more lucrative by comparison.

    Unfortunately, everything I say is hypothetical because I don't think there's public access concrete legal information about any negotiations that occurred. I wish Brad Buxer would talk more about what exactly the negotiations were and what he thinks his rights are, but as far as I know I'm not too sure if anyone has made a public comment about it. But until then, who knows what really is the truth.
     
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  13. ParadoxDreams

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    This hella, this is definitely something that a lot of people don't really talk about. With the part about Brad Buxer & public comments, I believe he's a somewhat shy person & doesn't do too many interviews (in comparison to other people who've worked with Jackson). Someone said this in the past, but arguably if the rumor of Jackson working on the "Sonic The Hedgehog 3" soundtrack hadn't started & people didn't start bugging those producers, those issues probably wouldn't have been as big of a problem until maybe much later.

    In the end it all comes down to those contracts. Whether Michael did or didn't compose the soundtrack doesn't matter in a sense, it's that those contracts were signed & clearly that has made some of those Buxer team producers unhappy.
     
  14. Morris

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    It's very obvious SEGA learned from the Sonic 3 incident, as pretty much every song that involved a third-party musician (be it a composer, arranger, lyricist, or vocalist), that came after Sonic 3, SEGA owns the rights to. The only exception I can think of would be Sonic Unleashed's Endless Possibility, where they seemingly don't own the rights to Jaret Reddick's vocal performance? But that's a whole different can of worms.
     
  15. Gryson

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    Agreed. Forgive my ignorance, but is there any evidence that Brad Buxer (or his team) own any rights to the music they composed for S3? I'm not up-to-date on this stuff. The alternative is that Jackson owned the rights and contracted with Buxer to write the music. I don't know how their partnership typically worked, but I am inclined to think copyright would stay with Jackson (while Buxer would receive co-credit and possibly a percent of royalties).

    The reason I ask: Sega did not give a damn about music written by Brad Buxer. I think this fact is greatly overlooked in discussions about the S3 music. Sega wanted one thing: to attach Jackson's name to the game. I say that from the perspective of the management who would have been approving of any deals. There is just no way Sega would have been willing to give up copyright on any part of one of its games unless the benefit was huge, and Jackson's name was huge (the same was true for Masato Nakamura). Especially when Sega was perfectly capable of using its own music.

    Another question: Is there any evidence that there was a contract between Jackson/Buxer and Sega? Could this all have been an informal agreement - something intended to be formalized, but that never was due to the allegations coming out?

    The fact that so many of SOA's top management have said they weren't aware of any deal with Jackson suggests to me that this all started and ended as an informal agreement. Jackson agreed to work on some music, he had Buxer make some tracks, Buxer sent them to Sega, and through whatever route the tracks were included in the game with acknowledgement to Buxer and co.

    This could also explain why there's so much uncertainty concerning who owns the music. The lack of a formal contract would open the door to each party making a claim of ownership.
     
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  16. pkderbar

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    I agree with @Gryson. The simplest explanation is that Sonic 3 was very hastily developed and Sega overlooked something with respect to the music, since they (Roger Hector & Howard Drossin) believe Sega had removed the Jackson team compositions but that clearly didn't happen.
     
  17. ParadoxDreams

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    I'm not actually sure if any contracts were signed. I checked my notes & I don't see any mention of a contract (I'm gonna have to revise all of them soon just in case). It reminds me a bit about "Do the Bartman", where Jackson got the work & Bryan Loren wrote the final track with ideas from Michael. I'm not that well versed in the way contracts 'n' stuff work in the Jackson camp, I mostly stick to the environment of the studio. I would assume so because I've seen so many contracts to other MJ-related projects (such as albums) that literally went nowhere, unlike this one that is completed.
     
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  18. The Game Collector

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    See, fans and forum members who talked about these things and really pushed for the research only have yourselves to blame. These people who really wanted to know just pushed and screwed it up for everyone, didn't they? "Ignorance is bliss" much?
     
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  19. Traversal

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    Fans aren't responsible for the sketchy decisions Sega made over two decades ago; wouldn't have been anything to dig up if it wasn't a mess in the first place.
     
  20. Josh

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    I'd say the argument that they started doing it then because they were concerned about it is *probably* too much conjecture. Aside from the Continue music/NO WAY NO WAY theme and Blue Spheres, the rest of Sonic & Knuckles' soundtrack is original. I always took S3&K using the "& Knuckles" cues through the whole game was just for the sake of consistency, since in addition to the MJ-associated tracks, it also replaces the title screen, 1UP jingle, Invincibility, etc. Plus, Knuckles' original jingle was used in Sonic Pocket Adventure in 1999, and Sonic 3 continued to be regularly re-released unaltered until 2011, with the S&K Collection being the one exception.

    So, I doubt any part of Sega was concerned about the ramifications of the soundtrack before the S&K Collection, at the earliest.