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Motley Crue Sells Music Via 'Rock Band' Game


From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Noah Adams.


And I'm Michele Norris. You might not call the music group Motley Crue cutting edge, but last month, they became the first rock band to release a single exclusively through a video game. For a time, you could only buy the song "Saints of Los Angeles" if you had the game "Rock Band" and the console you needed to play it. Soon after, the song became available through more traditional methods - on iTunes and other music services - but as Cyrus Farivar reports, the song is selling way more copies through the video game.

CYRUS FARIVAR: If you have "Rock Band," it'll cost you three bucks to download "Saints of Los Angeles."

(Soundbite of song "Saints of Los Angeles")

FARIVAR: In "Rock Band," players become the band, playing this or dozens of other songs, minus the stage lights and mosh pit.

(Soundbite of song "Saints of Los Angeles")

Mr. VINCE NEIL (Lead Singer, Motley Crue): (Singing) Tonight, there's gonna be a fight, so if you need a place to go, got a two-roof slum, a magnum seven gun and the cops don't never show. So come right in…

FARIVAR: "Saints of Los Angeles" has sold over 80,000 copies through "Rock Band." That's more than double the sales from online music services like iTunes and Amazon combined, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Motley Crue just may be on to something, says Mike McGuire, a digital music analyst at Gartner Research, because a game like "Rock Band" really pulls people into the music.

Mr. MIKE GARTNER (Digital Music Analyst, Gartner Research): The person is in the game itself, playing along with that song. It's somebody that's more engrossed in the music, as opposed to, you know, I could have had this music right now, and it would just be background.

FARIVAR: And as CD sales continue to drop, it only makes sense that record labels are looking for a lot of new sources of revenue, something that could be what singles on 45s once were. It's only natural for music labels to tap into the booming and lucrative video game industry, says Aaron Greenberg, director of product management for Xbox 360.

Mr. AARON GREENBERG (Director of Product Management, Xbox 360): The games industry last year grew 43 percent over here to $18 billion in the US alone. So as people are looking for how they want to get their entertainment, gaming is sort of the new growth.

FARIVAR: People in the video game and music industries say they anticipate other bands will release new tracks on "Rock Band." Already, the British rock group Def Leppard used the game "Guitar Hero III," which is similar to "Rock Band," to release one new track last month. While digital sales of Motley Crue's "Saints of Los Angeles" continue to rise, the physical album won't be released until late next month.

For NPR News, I'm Cyrus Farivar. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Cyrus Farivar