Music industry optimists like to argue that the music industry isn’t in trouble, just the music labels. We’re not sure about that — the concert business, for instance, had a lousy year last year, too. That said, here’s a data point on behalf of the “music’s not dead” camp: Viacom’s MTV has sold 2.5 million songs for its “Rock Band” game in 8 weeks.
“Rock Band”, a breakout hit for MTV, is a group karaoke game that works on both Sony’s PS3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360. Like Activision’s rival “Guitar Hero” game, it gives players the chance to download new songs to play along with, at $2 a pop. Reuters:
MTV said the most popular offering was a three-song pack of songs from heavy metal band Metallica, followed by bundles from The Police and Queens of the Stone Age.
The top-selling single was Foreigner’s ’80s anthem “Juke Box Hero” followed by Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son” and Weezer’s “Buddy Holly”.
We don’t know how that money gets split up, but we assume it follows the iTunes model: 70% or so to the music acts or their labels, and 30% to the distributor (MTV, and presumably MSFT and SNE). In any case it’s not going to move the needle much for the music business overall — Apple just sold 2 billion songs, at a dollar each, over the last year, and even that didn’t do much for the business. But as a “people like music” argument, it works – as does the fact that the “Rock Band” game itself retails for $170.
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