The other day, Activision CEO Robert Kotick said in regard to licensing music for Guitar Hero, that when you look at the value appearing in these music games represents to an artist, maybe the music labels should be paying Activision to appear in the game rather than the other way around. His remark was likely spurred by Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr.’s comments last month about how the music industry needed a bigger slice of the profit the makers of Guitar Hero and Rock Band were making off of “their” music.
[[image: ar_092608_rockband_01.jpg:Buy more metal. Do it!:center:0]]
Honestly, I think both companies are kind of missing the point. Yes, Guitar Hero is certainly helping drive the sales of various music groups, including Metallica’s newest album. It’s a bit of a catch-22, though; the music industry is profiting because of Guitar Hero and Rock Band’s hard work, but without the music, those products wouldn’t sell in the first place. Can’t these companies see it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement? The aforementioned download of Metallica’s newest album in Guitar Hero 3 is a great example of both mediums working together to sell their respective products, and I’m sure some of the more questionable Rock Band DLC tracks showed up in exchange for the rights to other songs the record labels hold.
I can’t tell if Kotick’s comments were serious, indicating the company feels it’s too big to ignore and their greed has gotten the best of them, or if it was a ploy to publicly say, “Hey, everyone’s winning right now, but if you rock this boat we’re all in, you might not like some of the waves.” Similarly, I don’t know if Warner Music is actually getting screwed by any of this, or if it’s, “Look, these guys are making some serious scratch, so let’s try to get as much of it as possible.” Something tells me, in both cases, greed is a pretty big factor.
Regardless, I am impressed by the fact that this argument can even happen — that a video game company can push back like this. Remember when games were the little guys compared to film and music? Yeah, me neither.