Rock revival, via video games

Millions of people are jamming to classic-rock songs with plastic guitars in hand. With the popularity of the video games “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero III” has come an upswing in music sales as well – not in stores (album sales are still slipping) but through the games.

Both “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero III” allow players to buy and download new tracks, unlocking brand-new levels to which gamers can rock out. While most of the available tunes hit their radio peak in the '70s and '80s, at least one new song has found an in-game audience.

Last month, Motley Crue released the title track from their upcoming album “Saints of Los Angeles” in only three places:, Apple’s iTunes, and Rock Band’s online store. The CD won’t hit stores until June 24, but the band’s management says they’ve already sold 47,000 copies through the Xbox video game – they didn't have figures for the PlayStation 3 version. In comparison, Motley Crue has only sold 10,000 copies of the MP3 through iTunes and Amazon.

As Reuters points out: “That's a pretty big discrepancy considering that music bought via ‘Rock Band’ can't be transferred to a portable music player or even a computer for later enjoyment. It can be played only via the game.”

These music video games are potentially huge for the slumping music industry. In the past seven months, Rock Band has sold more than 10 million downloadable tracks. Guitar Hero has surpassed 15 million. And at least one more company is ready to launch its own rock-styled game.

This is exactly the kind of "thinking outside of the box" that the music industry needs. Napster sent recording labels into a fearful fit of lawsuits that's still churning out subpoenas today. Rather than turning fans into defendants, labels should investigate news ways to make money off their songs. Clearly, if the pitch is novel enough, people will buy it.

[Via Wired's Game|Life]

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