How the music industry is changing ... bands release singles on Guitar Hero and Rock Band

April 15 2008

So while the music industry tries to get a handle on the reality that digital is here and iTunes is the new king of sales, we have bands trying new ways to get their singles heard.

First, we have Motley Crue releasing their new single on Rock Band:

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In a nod to the ascendancy of video games, rock 'n' roll bad boys Motley Crue will become the first group to release a new single through Rock Band, said the developer of the wildly popular game.

"Saints of Los Angeles," the first single from the group's upcoming album, will be available for download for 99 cents beginning on Tuesday via Microsoft Corp's Xbox Live Marketplace and on Thursday via Sony Corp's PlayStation store, said Viacom Inc's MTV Games.

In "Rock Band", gamers play along to songs with controllers shaped like a guitar, drum set, or microphone. The game is sold for about $170 for consoles such as Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It competes with the similarly popular "Guitar Hero" series, made by Activision Inc.

Their success has underscored the potential of video games as a new source of revenue for a music industry grappling with falling CD sales.

"Rock Band" went on sale last November, and now has more than 80 tracks available for download in addition to the 58 tracks in the original game. MTV Games said players have bought more than 6 million downloadable songs for Rock Band. Tunes range from classics by the likes of the Who and the Rolling Stones to more-contemporary fare from the Killers and Fall Out Boy.

and we have Def Leppard releasing their new single "Nine Lives" to Guitar Hero 3 before it hits retail:
We've known for a while that inclusion on a video game soundtrack can help drive music sales, but usually the song in question is actually available for sale when it appears in the game. Not so for Def Leppard's new single, "Nine Lives," which will premiere as a downloadable Guitar Hero III track before it's available at retail or other online services. No F-f-f-foolin'!

The track, which comes as part of a Def Leppard pack along with classics "Rock of Ages" and "Photograph," will be available on April 24th in the U.S. and May 8th in the U.K. The album "Songs from the Sparkle Lounge" follows soon after on April 28 (digital download) and May 5 (physical disc).

"I know from personal experience how much more you get into the music by playing the game," said Def Leppard Lead Singer Joe Elliott in a press release. "Guitar Hero is extremely popular with all kinds of music heads, which includes a lot of our fans - and we think releasing Nine Lives this way first is just fantastic!"

I think this will become a new trend, especially for bands that are not at the top of the pop charts. Guitar Hero and Rock Band have been major successes, but the micro-transactions of both games for songs not on the game disc is just amazing. Let us just hope the record industry executives decide this is a good thing.