Steam is changing up how gaming soundtracks on the storefront work, including re-categorising soundtracks so they’re no longer considered DLC and implementing a sort-of-streaming service.

If you’ve never bought a soundtrack on Steam, I’ll quickly explain how it used to work: soundtracks were considered to be DLC, meaning someone would have to purchase the base game in order to also buy the game’s musical score. You’d also have to have the base game downloaded in order to download and access the soundtrack.

However, as outlined in an official blog post, Steam is introducing the new “soundtrack” category. The new category is designed to help set apart soundtracks from downloadable in-game content.

The new soundtrack category also has the following added bonuses:

  • Soundtracks can now be purchased without users having to purchase the base game. This means that if you own the game on a platform that isn’t Steam but want the soundtrack without having to re-buy the game, you can!
  • Soundtracks can be downloaded without users having to download the base game.
  • Soundtracks now have their own place and interface in the library, allowing users to browse, play, and manage their soundtracks inside Steam itself instead of having to search through their computer’s directory.
  • Steam users can now configure a Steam ‘music’ directory to put all their soundtrack files in, instead of having to hunt through each game’s files and folders to find the soundtrack.
  • Developers can now upload and manage soundtrack content entirely through the partner site and will no longer have to use steamcmd.
  • Developers can sell soundtracks even if their base game isn’t available for sale on Steam. For example, this will allow devs of Epic Store or PlayStation exclusives to sell their soundtracks through Steam.

Along with being revamped and given a promotion from DLC to its own independent category, the actual songs themselves are getting a brand new look – or sound, to be more accurate. They can now support multiple quality levels so, along with the usual set of MP3 files you get, soundtracks can also include optional high-quality audio depots such as FLAC or WAV.

As mentioned above, Steam now has a sort of ‘streaming service.’ While it’s not like Spotify or Apple Music, soundtracks can now be played directly from your Steam Library, meaning you don’t have to export them to another platform (like iTunes) in order to listen.

Soundtracks can now contain certain forms of associated content, like album art and liner notes. These can be viewed from a soundtrack’s details page in your Steam Library.

All these new features are set to launch on January 20th, along with a special sale event to celebrate. Steam says that all these features are just an “early state” and that Valve has even more plans for soundtracks in the long run.