It was just a matter of time before Country wised up, and saw that the Rock and Classic Rock genres were dominating play-along video games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero. There's just something about seeing a 12 year-old play "Search and Destroy" by Iggy and the Stooges that has to get you wondering why Country has been MIA in these games.
To meet this need (just in time for Christmas), a new Rock Band 5-pack containing Brooks & Dunn, Brad Paisley, and Dixie Chicks (obviously recovered from their Bush bashing) is about to be released. As R&R's Mike Stern asks, is this trend brand extension or "band extension?"
Actually, it's both. Making music available to fan-participant applications like Rock Band is just plain smart, especially when video games are outselling music downloads and CD sales by a wide margin. And we know from our Tech Polls that these games sell music, while exposing whole new audiences to music they've never heard before.
What's next for Rock Band - a classical version where older listeners can play everything from a cello to a French horn along with a Beethoven symphony? Or multiple mics for a CeCe Winans gospel hit? Don't laugh. The music industry - while making gargantuan mistakes since the advent of digital - is moving toward a multi-access philosophy, and video games is their killer app.
In radio, we face the same pressures - how to move our best brands to multiple platforms - computers, iPhones, and anywhere that consumers access entertainment and information. Why not have KROQ or WMMR branded versions of Guitar Hero, made available in L.A. or Philly so that locals can enjoy the best music on their favorite stations? We continue to watch the video explosion from the sidelines, as Guitar Hero and Rock Band feature our best songs in new ways that fans can enjoy them. It's time for radio to step up and share in the gaming industry's success.