Perfect marriages in the music world usually involve attractive
country-and-western singers or MTV-groomed pop stars. But one of the
best unions in the business right now isn't likely to attract the
paparazzi - unless they have PlayStation.
Video games are proving to be a good partner for a struggling
industry eager to find new ways to appeal to young people who would
rather pirate music off the Internet than pay for it.
Million-selling games are boosting sales, launching musical
careers, and persuading skittish record executives that not all
technology is bad for business.
"It's fishing where the fish are," says Dave Kusek, associate
vice president at Berklee College of Music in Boston. "The best way
to reach [the youth market] today is through video games and the
Now that video games are mainstream, they've gained the heft to
reach coveted markets - often edging out radio as a marketing tool.
A survey by New York marketing firm ElectricArtists earlier this
year found that among its sample of video game consumers ages 13 to
32, 40 percent had bought a CD after hearing it in a video game.
Electronic Arts, a Redwood City, Calif.-based video-game company,
is a pioneer in making deals that blend new music and video games.
Where once it had to go looking for music, now labels are making
Its bestselling football game, "Madden," for example, has become
the "American Bandstand" of the video-game world. For the 2004
version, released in August, the company was offered more than 2,000
songs for the 23 slots available on the game.
The interest is understandable. Factoring in things like the
millions of copies sold and the number of hours people will play it,
"a song in Madden hypothetically will get over 500 million spins,
which is close to, if not beats, the No. 1 record in America when it
comes to the number of impressions," explains Steve Schnur,
worldwide executive of Music for Electronic Arts.
Music has been part of video games for years, becoming more
common in the mid-1990s, when CD-based game consoles came on the
scene. Companies often have created their own music in-house, or
licensed songs from back catalogs. But in the past two or three
years the use of popular music - particularly current songs - has
Makers of video games also are going beyond just licensing music
as background for their sports and adventure games. This week,
Square Enix launched a radio station on America Online featuring
only the music from its series of "Final Fantasy" games. Other
innovations include music video games like "FreQuency" and
"Amplitude," which allow people to remix their favorite songs, and
games like "Def Jam Vendetta," which not only has rappers Method
Man, Redman, and DMX on the soundtrack, but features them as
characters in the wrestling game. …