Did The Record Labels Kill The Golden Goose In Music Video Games?

from the of-course-they-did... dept

For the last decade or so, every year the major record labels seem to bet on some single "magic bullet" to fix all that ails them. They go through phases. There was their own crappy DRM'd and locked-down music stores. There were ringtones. And... there were music video games like Guitar Hero and Rockband. And, of course, as soon as those games actually started helping the recording industry, the industry decided to suck them dry. Edgar Bronfman kicked it off by declaring angrily that those games had to pay much more to license the music -- even though the music in those games tended to lead to much greater sales of albums for those artists.

And now it looks like the labels may have succeeded in bleeding those types of games dry. With Activision announcing that it was dumping Guitar Hero, one of the major reasons given is the high cost of licensing music. Yup, the labels priced things so high that they made it impractical to actually offer any more. Yet another case of the labels overvaluing their own content. Now, it's also true that these games haven't evolved that much, and people haven't seen the point of buying new versions, but part of that lack of evolving is because so much of the budget had to go towards overpaying for music, rather than innovating.

Filed Under: guitar hero, music, video games
Companies: activision

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2011 @ 9:03am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That would have been a brilliant marketing plan from the labels. So, it's no surprise they didn't do it :/

    As for the music, I don't think the popularity of the songs matters as much as people expect. Look at how many bands came up from obscurity thanks to these games. Almost all of my favorite songs from the franchise are from bands and music I never heard of before, and I doubt I'm alone here.

    Dragonforce is a great example; nobody knew who they were, but that song in the game was awesome and super fun to play, and as a result, they became a band that most people now know about. The Sleeping and The Fall of Troy were the same deal; amazing songs that were really fun to play and nothing I've ever heard before exposure from that game.

    Had Activision had their decent own music for the games (with some label tunes mixed in for the kids), they could have released that music as free downloads or mail-order CDs and people would have eaten that up if the songs were enjoyable and fun to play in the game. They did have some stuff, but it was mostly there for show, lacked vocals and were just like 1 minute tracks that nobody cared about. If they spent real time and money developing their own content, I really think it would have been successful, and still likely cheaper (and definitely more profitable) than licensing it all from someone else.

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