Hit games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band are creating a subtle put profound shift in the way music is experienced, heard, interacted with and purchased. In these environments music is not listened to passively, it becomes an immersive and engaging experience that is changing the nature of the relationship between the hard-core fan and the artist, pulling them closer together in ways that have never been done before.
In the past six months, the number of songs downloaded to the “Rock Band” game has surpassed 10 million tracks, according to MTV Networks, while song downloads from “Guitar Hero” passed 15 million, according to Activision. With more than 100 songs available for download via the “Rock Band” platform, that’s an average of 100,000 downloads per song sold through the game.
The songs that are selling via these video games are a heavy mix of classic rock and metal tracks that account for approximately 80% of sales, but also include new tracks by known and unknown artists trying to break new ground. One example is new metal act Black Tide. When its “Light From Above” CD was released in November, the single “Shockwave” sold only a few hundred copies per week.. The week before being featured as a downloadable song on “Rock Band”, the single sold 1,000 downloads. Two weeks later, download sales doubled. Yet sales on “Rock Band” were 10 times that of those on iTunes and other stores. In the six weeks following the “Rock Band” debut, “Shockwave” sold 6,000 digital downloads via online retailers, compared with an estimated 60,000 downloads via the game.
This is just one example of the way that music is finding new ways to reach an audience – with or without record labels – rising to fill the opportunity. Keep your eyes on the video game space to see how it evolves further as a catalyst for music exploration, discovery and distribution.