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Music Industry Conflicted On Guitar Hero, Rock Band 140

Wired is running a story about the friction between the music industry and music-based games, such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Despite the fact that these games are very successful and are drawing a great deal of attention to the music represented in the games, the industry is not pleased with the licensing arrangements that allow the games to use their songs. Quoting: "Putting the brakes on music gaming would hurt everyone in the ailing music industry. Instead of demanding greater profit participation, Warner should be angling for creative participation. Thirty years ago, Hollywood took a similar threat — the VCR — and turned it into a new source of revenue, building customer loyalty in the process. The music industry could use new games the same way — but its track record suggests that it won't."
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Music Industry Conflicted On Guitar Hero, Rock Band

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  • The music industry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @04:14AM (#26979633)

    The music industry shooting iself in the foot?

    Colour me surprised...

  • Yeah yeah yeah... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neokushan ( 932374 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @04:18AM (#26979647)

    Let me rephrase and re-summarise the article:

    Games like Rock Band and Guitar hero are now incredibly popular, so the music industry wants to cash in on it and fleece everyone for every single penny they can.

  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @04:28AM (#26979691)

    The music "industry" is not music. It's just middle men. They create drag, friction, between the musicians and the fans. They are an unneeded artifice, a relic of an earlier age, in my mind. For instance:

    "Despite the fact that these games are very successful and are drawing a great deal of attention to the music represented in the games, the industry is not pleased with the licensing arrangements that allow the games to use their songs."

    Does anyone here think "their songs" refers means "the artist's songs" or does it rather mean "Corp X's songs". Their original argument in the opening salvo of their war against the internet was "think of the artists!" Well, apparently they don't abide by their own logic (nor have they ever). From the very same article:

    "Music games are proven earners--Aerosmith has reportedly earned more from Guitar Hero : Aerosmith than from any single album in the band's history."

    Fuck the music industry. Please, just die already.

  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @04:33AM (#26979715)

    Or this here, also in the article:

    Warner has actually led the industry with a policy of signing bands to so-called 360 deals, in which artists give the label a cut of everything they sell, be it ringtones, merchandise, or concert tickets.

    Yet it doesn't detail why the artist should give a cut to everything. Perhaps a $10k higher advance? Or does it become like the contracts all employees have to sign these days, with non-compete clauses, and other filled-to-the-brim bullshit which "everyone signs" because their peers do it - with no actual value added ever to the weaker party, everything always going for the stronger party in this case?

  • by Endo13 ( 1000782 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @04:35AM (#26979729)

    They agree on payment and royalties when they seek copyright permission. So why the fcuk are they moaning after?

    They're moaning because they think they deserve more money from their obsolete business model. They're moaning because they think there's potential here for them to get a lot more money from the games than they are. Problem is, they are 100% wrong. They don't realize it, but these games don't need their songs, not even a little bit. And if they ask for more money, the developers of these games will (hopefully anyway, because they *should*) tell them "sorry, we don't need your songs", and then proceed to use excellent music from dozens of indie bands no one has ever heard of before, which will in turn lead to those bands gaining popularity, people searching for music from those bands online, finding the free (or at least non-DRM) distribution sites that have that music, and discovering a whole new world of alternatives to RIAA music.

    If they do this, they truly will be blowing off their last foot. They'll still try to hobble around on their stumps for a while, but this will be the beginning of the end for them. I hope they do it.

  • by adavies42 ( 746183 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @04:49AM (#26979783)
    well, i wouldn't go that far. the beatles rock band edition, if the damn thing ever happens, is going to be a best seller for a very good reason. i'm not sure where the balance is between "fun on its own" and "fun because i know the songs", but it's not at either end for most people.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @04:50AM (#26979785)

    I'd like people to stop confusing the recording industry with the music industry, but I guess neither of us will get what we want eh.

    The recording industry can die and music will survive.

  • by adavies42 ( 746183 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @05:04AM (#26979839)
    Reminds me of a filk I wrote a while back:

    This song is your song, this song is my song
    It's not an ASCAP or a BMI song
    It's not a song that demands a royalty
    This song was made for you and me.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @05:14AM (#26979875) Homepage

    That is all well and good, but they are actually responsible not only for getting every greedy dollar they can, they are forgetting that they also need to keep their eyes on the horizon and to maintain a connection with their consumer base and this is where they are failing miserably and what many see as the ultimate, though gradual, cause of their downfall.

    1. They sue their customers
    2. They don't give anything away

    Specifically, to address point 2, it is well known in the marketing world that "free" is the single-most attention getting word in advertising and marketing. It motivates people to participate in the market. And it is also well known that they should give away the razor in order to sell more razorblades. And in a case such as this topic, it is obvious what they should do but are not doing. They should set up a deal with xbox live and whatever other console gaming networks allow downloadable content and start sponsoring the development of free guitar hero and rock band games that allow for subscribed content. Free games, subscribed content. On the surface it would seem to be an obvious and very good model... and I know for certain that I'm something of a dumbass, so if I can see it, either I am very wrong or they are far more stupid than I am.

  • by EvanED ( 569694 ) <> on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @05:45AM (#26979993)

    These games work every bit as well and are every bit as fun even if every single song is from an indie group that no one has heard of before.

    Well, this is true to an extent, but not entirely; I'll give three (related) reasons why I partially disagree:

    1. I tend to have more fun playing songs that I like -- not to say that I won't like whatever indie music they put in (I've found a couple songs I liked because of GH and RB), but you have to be careful about putting a lot of unheard of stuff in there because of #3.

    2. #1 goes especially true for the vocalist. I don't particularly enjoy singing songs that I don't know or like, though I don't know if I'm in the minority here.

    3. Because of #1, if I'm trying to decide between buying GH or RB, I'm going to look at the set list and pick the one with the better set list. In a world where I were more motivated, I'd go and listen to the songs that I don't know in order to decide which set list is better. In the real world, I'm just going to ignore them, or in fact weight songs I don't know a little negatively. (I actually really don't like a lot of the music that's in either game, and just put up with it because when playing a good song, it's so much fun.) So if you drop out too much stuff that I know and know I like in favor of stuff that I haven't heard of, I'm going to get the other game, even if it's a few bucks more expensive.

    If both games are full of stuff I haven't heard of, I may just stick with the games I have and play Cliffs of Dover or Don't Fear the Reaper some more.

    So I agree that the GH/RB venue is a potential place for indy bands to break out... but I don't think that the companies would be particularly well-served by cranking up the indy music a lot.

  • by philipgar ( 595691 ) <> on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @06:09AM (#26980097) Homepage
    Fraid to break the news to you, but this just isn't the case. It is true that the diehard guitar hero players will buy these games no matter what is released on them. And, yes there is a sizeable number of them. However, what sells these games in the massive volumes they've had is name recognition. Guitar hero is one of those party games that people play in groups. Sure there's some fun in sitting around and playing songs you don't know, but when you have a group of 4 or 5 people (where only 2 can play at a time), the others want something they know on. Every time I've played those games, I've looked for songs I recognized, it just makes it easier to play. If only one person knows the song it gives them an unfair advantage when playing the game. Plus, it's just more fun to be "rocking out" to songs that you recognize. Sure the other songs might be just as good, but if you don't know them, you just can't get as "into" the game.

    A compromise will likely end up being made between the music industry and the game companies. If the music is the reason these games are selling, then they do have legitimate reasons to want more of the profits made from these games. If you read the article, they even mention that the NFL makes 30% of the profits from the Madden series. I imagine where the big discrepancy lies is in aftermarket content for the game. For instance if the game publishers are charging $3 to download a new song (I have no idea what it really is), and the music industry only gets $1 of it, I can see why they're complaining. This content is almost entirely their own, and they legitimately want some of the profit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @07:32AM (#26980429)

    I think you are giving school kids too much credit. They want teh newest and hottest artists. The ones that get advertised to death. The ones all their friends are listening to.

    I've been talking to my 16 year old daughter about music recently. Her latest 'musical coup' among her friends, was to take some of my Led Zep CDs in to school. Her friends have been bringing in other music from their parent's collections. Yes, they listen to some of the new bands, but when it comes to what they actually spend most of their time listening to, it's 70's to early 90's. They all say there's too much crap, and not enough music coming out now, why not go back and listen to all those years of good stuff.

    It's still big music industry bands, but not the stuff that's supposed to be marketed at them. The manufactured music bandwagon seems to have finally lost it's way. And if the kids are deciding that anything that's heavily advertised at them must be crap, that's an opening for the indie bands to move into.

  • Re:Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by langelgjm ( 860756 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @07:57AM (#26980511) Journal
    There's a fair bit of revisionist history in the summary, too, or at least it's misleading:

    Thirty years ago, Hollywood took a similar threat â" the VCR â" and turned it into a new source of revenue, building customer loyalty in the process.

    I'm sure most people here know it, but Hollywood didn't take the VCR and turn it into a new source of revenue. Universal sued Sony over the Betamax, hoping to litigate it into oblivion, lost, and were dragged kicking and screaming into a new era and way of making money. Remember Jack Valenti's comment about the VCR being to the film industry what the Boston strangler is to the woman at home alone?

  • by meringuoid ( 568297 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @09:54AM (#26981113)
    The music industry shooting iself in the foot?

    Yes, they are. And yes, this is unbelievably stupid.

    Guys? A clue for you. You've got me paying for music again. The Napster generation, the whole Gen-Y pirate crowd, people who habitually download entire band discographies from The Pirate Bay - these people are falling over themselves to pay you well in excess of the iTunes price per track, because you've made it interactive, you've made it cool. You've worked out how to sell music in the 21st century, and now you're about to break it. Unbelievable.

  • by tixxit ( 1107127 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:25AM (#26981387)
    They are already making huge amounts of profits. I think the music industry just feels that that is all the game is; music. For example, a warner exec said, "the amount being paid to the industry, even though their games are entirely dependent on the content that we own and control, is far too small." They don't want to just license their music to the game companies, they're pissed they're not producing and making the games themselves.
  • Boston Strangler? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @10:45AM (#26981621) Journal

    Thirty years ago, Hollywood took a similar threat -- the VCR -- and turned it into a new source of revenue, building customer loyalty in the process.

    Actually, they fought it as long and as hard as they could, and only embraced it when it was clear it was going to happen.

    I distinctly remember comments comparing the VCR to the Boston Strangler. I'm too lazy to track it down, and most of you should remember...

    Keep in mind, this is Hollywood's attitude (and the Music Industry's attitude, incidentally) towards the ideas which ultimately provide them the most value. The music box, the phonograph, VCRs, digital audio tape, DVDs...

  • by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @01:56PM (#26984063) Homepage

    Yeah, and paying something like $2.50 PER SONG, as far as downloadable content. I'm pretty sure I paid more for the Rock Band song downloads than I did for the game itself.

  • by revjtanton ( 1179893 ) on Wednesday February 25, 2009 @06:43PM (#26988955) Homepage Journal

    I was just saying that to be a jerk, but now that you've brought it up:

    TPB offers discographies the same way that Google offers porno. If you Google porno, you get results that lead you to places that ACTUALLY sell or distribute porno. So by your rationale Google offers pornography in a *practicle* sense.

    Even though the workers at Google don't film, upload, post, or participate in the porn (maybe they do? I don't know anyone at Google...maybe they've got a porn star on staff...maybe they're responsible for the entire porn industry online!!!!) they've given you the tools for downloading or viewing the porn so that makes them the ones who are offering it. Right? So you're saying Google and Yahoo are distributing porn to our kids?! How dare they! They should be shut down!

    Also a Googling of torrents or TPB will lead you to TPB or other torrent sites and thereby Google is just as guilty as TPB is of copyright infringement! Googles are the villains of the day century I guess, and nobody suspects a thing accept for you khellendros1984 (Is the 1984 a reference to the year you were born, or the book?...and if its both I don't appreciate the irony here) You truly are a hero!

    Why don't you save your own brand of semantic pedantry for where it belongs and not in a *technical* forum.

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.