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Video Games Are Launching Rock-n-Roll Careers 171

jillduffy writes "Steve Schnur, a high-level music exec at Electronic Arts, talks about how video games are launching the careers of top musical artists these days. Some of his examples: 'Avril Lavigne was first introduced to European audiences through FIFA 2003. Fabolous was first introduced in America via NBA Live, and went on to sell over 2 million albums here. JET got their American iPod commercial based on exposure in Madden 2004. Avenged Sevenfold were an unsigned act when we featured them in Madden 2004...' Schnur explains how the phenomenon is made possible by the new generation of media junkies, who feel a song becomes real when they 'play it.'"
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Video Games Are Launching Rock-n-Roll Careers

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  • WHAT??? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Sunday March 09, 2008 @03:19PM (#22693920) Journal
    You mean to tell me that the RIAA are NOT the only ones who launch big music careers?

    Somebody better tell them quick, surely this means the end of their business model?

    http://www.riaaradar.com/ [riaaradar.com] is a place to look for other artists that are not associated with the RIAA if you are interested.
    • You mean to tell me that the RIAA are NOT the only ones who launch big music careers?
      Somebody better tell them quick, surely this means the end of their business model?

      You do have some notion of how big and rich the video game industry has become? How many in the industry have a working relationship with the owners of the major labels?

    • You mean to tell me that the RIAA are NOT the only ones who launch big music careers?

      That's right... and if you want to launch your big music career through video games, there's only one company that matters to you, and that's Electronic Arts. See, we the fine people at Electronic Arts realize that there are other video games out there whose developers would like you to believe they can offer the same thing, but that's utter rubbish. So if you're a really good band then don't waste your time with any other company. Come to us and give us your music for free, because after all (dramatic

  • A better question would be why aren't these groups getting exposure in Europe / United States in the first place? Isn't that what organizations like RIAA are for?

    I find it interesting that a video game soundtrack or an iPod commercial might be a better distribution system for pop music than radio or television. Something seems broken here.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheLink ( 130905 )
      AFAIK, lots of people heard Avril Lavigne before FIFA 2003 was released.

      So I don't know what this story is really about.
  • Don't forget Crush 40.
    • dude I got the sonic the hedgehog 2 and 3 music in my car :D it's awesome! I re-recorded it from my emulator hehehe.
  • I agree (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dr. Eggman ( 932300 ) on Sunday March 09, 2008 @03:21PM (#22693936)
    Nearly all the music I have (that was made in this decade or the previous) has come from video games. There is very little I like in the music industry, but video game music provides me with music backed by experiences, settings, characters. It creates a strong connection that evokes thoughts and images far better than detached music does for me. I hate lyrics, which really reduces the set of enjoyable music for me, but video games provides some of the widest variety in music I like.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Nearly all the music I have (that was made in this decade or the previous) has come from video games.
      That is most likely an indication of video games being the only way you're introduced to new artists and genres.
    • Wow.

      One one hand I want to find this fascinating, but it kinda seems horribly sad (in b4 "must be new here"). I mean, you do realize that outside in the big world music (the best of which you simply aren't going to find in a LCD medium like console gaming) functions much the same way, right? Music is fairly ubiquitous IRL, and aside from the appeal of one taste or style versus another is usually reinforced by "experiences, settings, and characters". That your appreciation of something so broad and potential

      • I forgot to qualify my first post as an agreement that video games are a good source of music, even more than a launch of "Rock-n-Roll careers," but still I agree with their statements. I have odd and specific tastes, very little of which is popular. For instance, in addition to a dislike of lyrics, I *mostly* dislike acoustic/electric guitars. Something about the vast majority of music featuring them just grates on my ears (there are a number of exceptions, of course.) Video games just happen to provide a
      • You espouse on *slashdot* in a *games forum* the idea anyone who enjoys music from a video game (obviously wasting their life) is simply sucking on the teat of our corporate overlords, and should rethink their tastes (presumably to fall more in line with yours)? How wonderfully "I'm-so-enlightened-and-open-minded-oh-and-anyone-who-disagrees-with-me-is-an-idiot" of you.

        You're making the assumption that someone who enjoys a particular genre of music is only going so because they are being spoon-fed by some c
        • This [amazon.com] is the first game that I can remember really enjoying the music as more than background enhancement while I played. I do like how the trend seems to be more "real" music and I hope that they keep mixing in lesser known bands. And it has the added bonus of really fleshing out the game if done right.I think have the reason I enjoyed Vice City so much is it took me back to my youth with its soundtrack.IMO the soundtrack really meshed well in that game. That said,I agree with the parent-if it sounds good t
    • So how do you feel about music now Audiosurf [audio-surf.com] has come out!?
      • It is nice to see that at least a few other people listen to my (extreme taste-exception,) E.G.G.M.A.N. Doc. Robeatnix Mix -- and show them whose the best mono, mono pro, and mono ninja of it! Kind of disappointing no one plays Mad Matrix, anything from SimCity 4, or Bioshock...
    • Re:I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

      by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Sunday March 09, 2008 @03:58PM (#22694160) Homepage
      Music today has boundaries that stretch unfathomably far beyond what gets played on the radio.

      For starters, there's the absolutely massive "indie" community that fosters a fantastic amount of great music.

      If you prefer ambient/electronic music with few or no words, quite a lot of artists have cropped up in this genre thanks to the magic of file-sharing and the internet, given the genre's relatively specific audience, and the difficulty for such bands to effectively promote themselves.

      There are a whole slew of artists in this genre worth checking out: 65daysofstatic, Mogwai, Sigur Rós, Four Tet, Explosions in the Sky, The Books, Battles, Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin, and a thousand others that I've either forgotten or never heard of.

      No matter how obscure you might think your musical tastes are, chances are good that there are many, many others like you. Don't be confined by video game soundtracks!

      That all said, I've never been all *that* impressed by a video game soundtrack, with the very notable exception of the Final Fantasy series.
      • MOD PARENT UP!! The indie community, along with a great many college radio stations, is a wonderful place for finding great music. Even the major labels think so: aside from the studio manufactured boy-bands and bubblegum pop, a large proportion of bands currently found on commercial radio got their start on indie/college stations.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by zaguar ( 881743 )
        But artists like Aphex Twin (SAW 85-92 for example) were popular before the internet became the massive file-sharing place it is today. I'd argue that whole genres of music were created out of the internet, rather than the internet popularising it.

        Ambient/IDM artists like Helios, BT, Solar Fields are products of the Brian Eno 70's and 80's, which created AFX and then led onto the ambient/techno, but EITS and Mogwai are post-rock and are more influenced by the more instrumental indie like Hex and Slint.

      • EA used to be a bastion of great soundtracks but really dropped the ball with their EA Trax licensed music initiative. For example, the Need For Speed series used to be renowned for its airy and percussive techno soundtracks - so much so that I even found a torrent with these soundtracks that was relatively well seeded (the soundtracks aren't for sale unfortunately). In recent years (these past 5 years or so) the series as well as others have fallen back on EA Trax which encompasses pop garbage rock from
    • I definitely think that there's something to that.

      Back in my TFC days, I used to listen to an internet radio station while I played. I have found that years later I have a very strong association between those songs and the game itself. So much so that when I think of playing the game, the songs pop into my head, and vice versa. Obviously, the songs have nothing at all to do with TFC, nor were they associated in any intelligible way to what I was doing in the game, yet I developed an affinity for them

    • I have a somewhat different viewpoint. I like all music, or at least like to listen to it and check it out to study it, try to understand it, etc, especially since I'm studying composition. Given that viewpoint, you can't but actually be surprised in some cases how GOOD video game music actually is. I was playing some of the old NES games the other day, and I have to admit that I just love the music in some of them, despite the midi-quality of the instrument (and maybe even because of them).

      As a few reall
  • what does that say about me?
  • Spokesmodel (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Sunday March 09, 2008 @03:23PM (#22693958) Homepage Journal
    That's not "rock & roll". That's pop drivel, that's not even primarily a music product. It's primarily a video product. The music is manufactured as a prop in a photoshoot for some model to sell units of some crap no one will like after the marketing push is done.

    Notice how none of this crap stays in anyone's playlists or even radio stations a few years after it's new? Because it doesn't speak to, or for, anything real. It speaks to some manufactured hype of the moment. Which is all it can, because the artists are commercial artists.

    That's not "rock & roll". That's corporate rock. The same manufactured pop that real rock & roll, from real people, chased from the charts back when it was real.
    • Yeah.
      I wanna be real, okay! [youtube.com]
    • Re:Spokesmodel (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jadin ( 65295 ) on Sunday March 09, 2008 @05:02PM (#22694514) Homepage
      You have a point, to a degree.

      The Beatles were pop, same as Britney Spears is pop. Don't hate pop music just "because", there is quality in the genre.
      • Pop has brief periods where it's actually good. That depends on what the public buys: when it buys music with folk (Black, White and other) roots, then pop can be good. The Beatles were the ones who reintroduced those folk roots to pop, standing on the shoulders of both the White Folk Revival and the Black Rock & Roll / R&B slowly becoming mainstream. A decade earlier, jazz was pop briefly, just as it was in the 1920s along with blues.

        There's a difference between some music that's actually good whic
        • The Beatles were constructed pop shit. They were all PR stunt, bubblegum shit music, hype, and ego. It wasn't until their later years that they started writing anything besides standard "make teenage girls wet their panties" garbage, and even that stuff was WAY overrated.

          Pop has always been around and always will be. And it's always been shit and it always will be.

          • The Beatles constructed themselves. They started writing meaningful songs after meeting Bob Dylan, like so many others did. It was the world's good fortune that at the time such music was popular.

            Pop isn't a style, it's a statistical market condition. When teenage girls are wetting their panties over music with deep roots and modern meaning, then pop can be great.

            By the way, you suck. And the Beatles rule. FWIW, what do you like to listen to?
      • by Omestes ( 471991 )
        The Beatles were pop, same as Britney Spears is pop. Don't hate pop music just "because", there is quality in the genre.

        But then some nice man gave John Lennon some acid, and they started to do NEW stuff. Yes, they started in the crappy 50's pop box ("I wanna hold your hand"), but went on to Sgt. Pepper. Britney is still doing bubblegum, last I checked, with very little chance of actually changing the music scene, or producing something with even a small amount of edge.

        The Beatles, also, were musicians, f
  • by autocracy ( 192714 ) <[slashdot2007] [at] [storyinmemo.com]> on Sunday March 09, 2008 @03:24PM (#22693962) Homepage
    Back when the PS2 launched, one of the best games around was SSX [wikipedia.org], and it had a soundtrack worthy of the game. I enjoyed, and acquired, much of the music I heard from playing that game.
  • Full Throttle (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jannone ( 1145713 )
    The Gone Jackals.

    Only band "from games" that I really cared about.
  • He had an hour of songs from video games, its quite impressive how many good songs there are in good games. For those of you in the UK check out his Wednesday show on radio iPlayer.

    I dont think in the age of myspace that any real talent is getting boosted by games. The bands that break into the mainstream after a couple of albums of giging and getting fans, thats where the real bands are.
  • Whew (Score:5, Funny)

    by cjfs ( 1253208 ) on Sunday March 09, 2008 @03:26PM (#22693978) Homepage Journal

    For a second I thought the "Rock Band Experts start Real Band" stories had started.

    I dread that day.

  • Considering the fact that i have three different people wanting to use my music in their games, i guess i've got a chance :D
    Small indipendent games, but atleast it's a start..
  • by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Sunday March 09, 2008 @03:36PM (#22694032)
    And they want John Romero back... Oh wait. Never mind, they said to keep him.
  • Assosciation (Score:2, Informative)

    by Degreeless ( 1250850 )

    There's definatly something in this, when I'm playing a game the music becomes assosciated with something from the game; a plot point, a grand set-piece, or even just the elation of victory. From this an assosciation is built so that when the music is heard its subconsciously linked to those gaming moments and if these moments were good it can fire the desire to hear the song again.

    Perhaps not the most scientific of proofs but from personal experience it holds water.

    • It's the same thing as ballets, operas, a movei soundtrack or any kind of music designed along with some visual medium. Sometimes the music really flies if it actually has something to say, and that is easier if you have story in the form of a video game or something else.
  • With their usage of the term "unsigned," they're trying to imply that nobody had heard of the band previously, when they were in fact on two labels that were at the time pretty well-known in the metalcore and punk scenes (Good Life and Hopeless). They happened to be in between contracts. Whoop-dee-doo.
  • Large media exposure is good marketing. No seriously, anything that gets your music out there to a large audience is a good thing. The more people that play videogames, the more this influence will be. Why would it be any different for games?

    What would make an interesting article is if music in videogames doomed bands to fail.
  • I'm going to retroactively launch my musical career with the soundtrack to "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" You might remember me from such underground hits as "Combat: game 23"
  • You mean, like, artists that are marketed primarily to people with computers can sell CDs? I was under the impression that everyone who has a computer doesn't buy music anymore but only swaps it through P2P.

    Dammit, did the RIAA lie to me?
  • by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Sunday March 09, 2008 @04:02PM (#22694178)
    I think Journey can be credited with the first video game tie in with their Journey Escape [wikipedia.org] game in 1982. Wiki says it was released for the 2600, however I do recall a coin up version, but as I remember it from a disused machine in a pizza place circa 1986, I imagine it could have been their later release.

    Journey [wikipedia.org] attempted to tie in their 1983 Frontiers album with a coin-op arcade game which featured a cassette of their music on a loup. Given Dragon's Lair was also released in 1983, there was not enough time to learn how unwise it was to use a mechanical system in an arcade box.

    They get points for being innovative, but given the limits of technology at the time, someone who even knew their music would have a hard time recognizing the vintage beeps and boops [youtube.com]. It didn't help the fact that the game it self wasn't very good, but the idea was sound.

    But needless to say the band was already successful before this tie in, and the tie in was hardly what I would describe as being successful.

    • I think Journey can be credited with the first video game tie in with their Journey Escape game in 1982. Wiki says it was released for the 2600, however I do recall a coin up version, but as I remember it from a disused machine in a pizza place circa 1986, I imagine it could have been their later release.

      Journey Escape was for the 2600, Journey [wikipedia.org] was the arcade. They were different games.

      • Journey Escape was for the 2600, Journey was the arcade. They were different games.

        So it would seem Journey Escape [journey-tribute.com] looks totally different than what I recall. As noted the coin-up version of the music was something one couldn't easily recognize even if you happened to have heard any of their music.

        Escape looks like it was done very tongue and cheek, sort of poking fun at the whole music industry.

        The coin-op looks like it was an attempt to suck the player/consumer into a fantasied world.

  • does this remind anyone else of audiosurf, the game where you fly over your music? I can imagine quite a community forming making music for it, even discovering new artists through it.
  • I'll admit. I had never even heard of freezepop until they became popularized by harmonix. Same goes for Bang Camero.

    Now I find myself actually interested in their music, thanks to the magic of Harmonix's rhythm games.
  • Great... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Perseid ( 660451 ) on Sunday March 09, 2008 @04:10PM (#22694224)
    "Avril Lavigne was first introduced to European audiences through FIFA 2003" Are they trying to blame ALL the evils in the world on video games now?
    • >>> "Avril Lavigne was first introduced to European audiences through FIFA 2003"

      That may be true, but in the UK at least I'd have thought it was not through Complicated but through her second top 10 UK single (charting at number 8, 5 Jan 2003) "sk8er boi" from December 2002 that she was widely aired.

      Who even knew she sang on Fifa 2003? Fifa 2003 was apparently released in UK in Oct 2002, some reports say November - which means it would have targetted the christmas market ... Complicated was on "Top
      • by bungo ( 50628 )
        "sk8er boi" from December 2002

        I agree. I think the FIFA 2003 idea is just totally rubbish.

        I remember first seeing her around then on MCM, a French language music
        video channel.

  • I've discovered quite a few artists from games that I've played. Seconding Gone Jackals for one (who didn't love Full Throttle?), I also had never heard of Mastodon before NFS Most wanted. I first really heard Trent Reznor's music in the original Quake, leading me to purchase much of his other work. Bella Morte in Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, etc etc. There's a lot of great bands (depending on your tastes in music) that get MAINSTREAM exposure from games that they weren't getting otherwise.
  • JET got their American iPod commercial based on exposure in Madden 2004.

    A product that was advertised by one megacompany got so much exposure that it was also advertised by another megacompany? Did I mention I'm impressed?
  • ... and I won't until I hear one of the Mario Bros. themes on the radio.

    But seriously - given most of the examples cited, it seems more likely that some already up-and-coming bands just happened to catch the ear of the music honchos at various gaming companies. To provide a counter-example: It's not like any J-Pop tune is sweeping the US, despite the popularity of all those DDR variants currently out there.
  • by Sean0michael ( 923458 ) on Sunday March 09, 2008 @04:33PM (#22694350)
    I think the reason video games are a good platform for music because of the attachment of the experience. When gaming, people become engrossed in what they are doing and absorb all elements of the game, including the music. For me I easily recall the different themes from some of my favorite games. Over-world themes in particular are very stuck, but games I loved to play over and over (Banjo-Kazooie, various Zelda games, etc.) are songs I won't forget.

    More to the point though, I am also attached to whatever music I put on while I was playing. Whenever I hear some songs, it instantly takes me back to playing that game. The same goes for pop songs today. If you put the song in an engrossing atmosphere, people get attached. It's no different than hearing the "NHL Tonight" theme and thinking hockey, or hearing "Zombie Nation" and thinking college hoops.

    I'm not surprised that people like the songs, and then seek the artist. Any exposure to the music in these environments is good for the artist.
    • More to the point though, I am also attached to whatever music I put on while I was playing. Whenever I hear some songs, it instantly takes me back to playing that game

      {What you describe can't be a good thing}
  • RIAA claims that although music piracy aids terrorists, "game piracy is a good, benign thing".
  • SMILE.dk got big in Japan after having one of their songs in the very first DDR back in 98. They broke up a few short years later, but, big hit none the less.
  • Gee, thanks video games...
  • So now we have to listen to those suckers in video games too, as if it weren't enough to hear anytime someone forgot to turn of the radio?

    What happened to those highly-skilled Japanese composers that used to make music for the nintendo games? Those are the guys I want to listen too, it's simply much better music. The Mega Man soundtrack still rings nicely in my ears while Avril Lavigne can basically go shove that skateboard.
  • So, what video game do my brother and I need to be in to get 'launched'?

    Check out our first song on YouTube from my sig.
  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Sunday March 09, 2008 @07:52PM (#22695620)
    Consider the video game credits of Grammy award winner Michael Giacchino (The Incredibles, Ratatouille):

    The Lost World - Jurassic Park
    Medal of Honor
    Secret Weapons Over Normandy
    Call of Duty

    Michael Giacchino [wikipedia.org]

  • Some of this is crap. I had both of Avenged Sevenfold's pre-2004 albums, purchased in Tower Records. They were on a smallish metalcore label, sure, but they were on a label, and were starting to get buzz with the mix of traditional metal and emocore/metalcore influences (which has turned out to be a timely trend, as alternative in general turns more and more to metal for inspiration). They may have been between labels in 2004, or just not on a major label, but they weren't unknown and they had plenty of
  • The game companies get great music without the hugely inflated licensing fees charged by the Big Labels. The artists get intensive exposure to the very demographics they hope to reach without selling their souls. The gaming fans get to hear great music without supporting the Labels or simply suffering through corporate pop retreads.

    It's interesting, because while this is happening through the medium of videogames, it's also happening through the medium of advertising. I worked on an in-house indy artist so
  • - FIFA 2003 was released at the end of October/start of November 2002.
    - Avril Lavigne's first single was number 1 in Spain and number 3 in the UK... in April 2002.

    So, the game made people go back in time 6 months to buy records? Now, thats impressive.

    I noticed because I remembered being annoyed by the music at the time; NBA/Madden games don't do much business over here so I can't comment on those.
  • I'm making a note here
  • ... the Genki Rockets wouldn't exist. Wait, they don't exist...
  • While I'm all for the idea that games and pop music have an interesting relationship, the claims made in the article seem overblown. To me, this stood out:

    Our FIFA 2005 soundtrack featured the earliest appearances of Franz Ferdinand, Marcelo D2, and Scissor Sisters.

    Franz Ferdinand was already huge when FIFA 2005 came out, and the Scissor Sisters were pretty well established. I think a lot more of the claims made by the EA spokesmodel are unlikely to withstand scrutiny.

  • I do remember a long time back hunting down and ordering a CD from a little indy garage band. --You've all seen similar projects; the kind where the CD cover was done by a friend of the band who earned their respect by drawing flaming skulls real good on the covers of his high school notebooks.

    Why did I order this CD from the other side of the U.S.? --Well, because the band had somehow gotten a contract with Lucasarts, and supplied the theme and background music for Full Throttle. [vintagegaming.org]

    Bad-ass biker music with

Each new user of a new system uncovers a new class of bugs. -- Kernighan