Rock acts ringing up sales via video games

Fri May 23, 2008 7:10pm EDT
 
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By Antony Bruno

DENVER (Billboard) - Games like "Rock Band" and "Guitar Hero III" have proved their ability to breathe new life into classic rock sales. But can they do the same for new music?

Last month, Motley Crue decided to find out. The band placed its new single, the title track from "Saints of Los Angeles," for sale as a downloadable track on "Rock Band" well in advance of the album's release date, which has been pushed back to June 24. The only other place to obtain the track was iTunes.

According to data provided by the band's management, Tenth Street Entertainment, the track was downloaded more than 47,000 times via the Xbox 360 version of the game alone in the first week after it became available. ("Rock Band" publisher MTV Networks was unable to independently verify these figures, and total downloads that include the PlayStation 3 version of the game were not available.)

By comparison, the same track received slightly more than 10,000 downloads via digital services like iTunes and Amazon, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

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.

FINDING THE AUDIENCE

Tenth Street CEO Allen Kovac shrugs off the gap in sales between formats, pointing out that a sale is a sale. In an age of rampant piracy, reaching fans where they are willing to spend money is the primary goal.

"We do research on every artist we have, and the research said that the people who bought Motley Crue music and tickets play 'Rock Band" and video games ... (so) it was our inclination to go there," he says. "As marketers, it's our job to find the audience. If our audience tells us they're sitting at Xbox and PlayStation, that's our job to do that."   Continued...

 
<p>(L-R) Motley Crue's Mick Mars, Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil and Tommy Lee pose at Avalon in Hollywood, April 15, 2008. Last month, Motley Crue decided to find out. The band placed its new single, the title track from "Saints of Los Angeles," for sale as a downloadable track on "Rock Band" well in advance of the album's release date, which has been pushed back to June 24. The only other place to obtain the track was iTunes. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>