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How old 90s games saved music industry

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How old 90s games saved music industry

Music-based old 90s games – When music videos first became popular, the audience experience was shifted from aural to visual. Later, music-based old 90s games provided an interactive dimension to audience enjoyment, and it caught on like wildfire, with games like Guitar Hero and MTV Rock Band which became a staple for every household. It was a partnership made in heaven between the game and music industries.

Popular music-based old 90s games – Guitar Hero, Record Sales, Critics

The premise of interactive music games is simple – players have extension controllers such as dance mats, guitars or drum sets, and they play along to tracks in time to score points. SingStar and Lips are the karaoke equivalent, where players sing into a microphone.

Artistes and record companies are paid in licensing fees when their music is first used in video games, but the revenue stream really starts pouring in with extra downloads from customers. Gamers have access to online libraries from which they can purchase additional songs to use in the game, and amazingly, it has reaped a reported average of 200-300% increase in real-world record sales.

Evidently, the benefits of collaborating with video game developers are plenty – rock band Aerosmith is a perfect testament to that. When they worked with Activision on Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, the results have been staggering. Within the first week of release, 550,000 copies had been snapped up by gamers, and the total sales for the game were more than 10 times the amount of the band’s album Honkin’ on Bobo.

More bands thereafter jumped on the Guitar Hero bandwagon, including Guns n’ Roses, Van Halen and Metallica. However, despite the obvious financial profits, these games were also criticized by artistes like Jack White of The White Stripes and Prince, who dismiss them as a poor substitute of actually learning how to play musical instruments.

Piracy and Losses Suffered

Although not everybody can agree on the benefits of interactive music-based old 90s games, it is undeniable that they are helping revive an industry being drowned by illegal downloads. A 2007 report by the Institute for Policy innovation estimated that music piracy had set the US economy back by 19 billion dollars that year; and the figure would probably rise with the development of increasingly sophisticated software.

No matter how hard the music industry authorities try to clamp down on peer-to-peer networking sites, they will remain as much a threat as a many-headed Hydra. A&M Records won their lawsuit against Napster in 2000, citing copyright infringement; but there remain many avenues where consumers can download songs without paying a cent. Conversely, Napster has been revived, but uses a pay service as it is now impossible for them to get away with providing free downloads after all the negative publicity.

This is where interactive music downloads come into play – they are harder to pirate, because they are downloaded straight onto game consoles, and cannot be burned onto CDs or uploaded onto MP3 players. This is a significant advantage over traditional music downloads from iTunes; or even legitimate CDs which, despite having anti-piracy measures put in place, can still be ripped onto the computer.

Evolution of Music

So even though interactive music games cannot please all critics, its popularity among gamers will probably guarantee increased music sales for many years to come – until someone designs a way to pirate these songs too. But as the music industry is constantly evolving, so will its security measures – so audiences can keep rocking out till the next challenge reveals itself.

Piracy and Rock Music

Piracy is wrong. Period. But is it possible that illegal file-sharing could actually benefit artists?


Illegal downloading is having a negative affect on music sales everywhere, but perhaps the downturn in sales due to file-sharing is a fair trade for the upturn in consumer awareness? If there’s one thing everybody can agree on, it’s that stealing is wrong. It’s wrong to walk up to a book on a shelf, pick it up and take it. It’s wrong to go into someone’s handbag and help yourself to a tidy wad of cash. It’s wrong to download mp3 files of an album you haven’t purchased… or is it? That, it seems, all depends on your point of view.

The Shutdown of OiNK.cd

In October 2007, the UK police shut down the most popular music file-sharing website on the internet – OiNK.cd. This caused a huge amount of controversy and sent many of its 180,000 members running for cover – lest the might of the record company lawyers track them down and punish them for their crimes.

The heart of this debate lies in whether or not the illegal downloading of music is a victimless crime. Sure, the record companies will lose money in music sales, that’s undeniable, but does the consumer awareness boost gained from the free distribution of music account for those losses? According to various ex-OiNKers, yes it does.

One member, who prefers to remain nameless for obvious reasons, said: “I would never have heard of half the bands I listen to now without having downloaded their music – let alone gone to their gigs or bought their t-shirts!”

What do Artists think about Music Downloading?

Another service that music downloading websites provided was an open forum to distribute unsigned bands’ material. This is particularly true within the alternative music scene.

One of the most popular alternative acts today is Nine Inch Nails, and vocalist Trent Reznor stated in an interview: “I’ll admit I had an account there and frequented it quite often… what made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world’s greatest record store. They’re not stealing it because they’re going to make money off of it; they’re stealing it because they love the band.” (Source: ‘Trent Reznor and Saul Williams Discuss Their New Collaboration, Mourn OiNK’, by Ben Westhoff of New York Entertainment, published 10/30/07)

Alternative Music Marketing Strategies

So, if the artists themselves see music sharing as a great promotional tool, maybe the record companies are simply missing the point. Take Radiohead, for example, whose latest album In Rainbows was offered by the band as an mp3 download with a price tag of… whatever people feel is appropriate.

That’s right, if a person wanted the album for free, they could do so; likewise, if they wanted to pay $5000, they could do that too. What Radiohead are really doing with this marketing strategy is sending a message to recording company executives – people want to consume music on their own terms.

Will Mainstream Music adopt New Methods of Distribution?

The alternative music scene has always been one step ahead of the game when it comes to music consumerism, and perhaps what bands like NIN and Radiohead are supporting and pioneering will eventually seep into the mainstream. Until then, music piracy will most likely continue – as soon as one illegal site is taken down, another 2 will pop up to take its place.

Piracy is Bad Thing, Music is a Great Thing

There is no doubt that illegal music downloading has a negative effect on artists, including those in the alternative scene; and there is no doubt that it is morally wrong. The real crux of the issue is that music companies need to research new ways of delivering music to consumers in both accessible, and affordable, ways.

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