What do the Beatles and AC/DC have in common? Neither band sells songs on Apple’s iTunes, yet both are getting into video games. No, rock gods haven’t given up getting high and scoring in favour of getting high scores. The economics of games are just more compelling and create fewer piracy issues.
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Both bands have famously refused to hand their songs over to iTunes. AC/DC’s front man even went as far as saying Apple’s service would “kill music”. Their reluctance is understandable—rock stars have a lifestyle to maintain—hotels to trash and Maseratis to crash. Fans often download a couple of songs for 99 cents each on iTunes, instead of spending $12 (Rs591.6) or more to buy an entire album.
Yet last month AC/DC agreed to let the maker of the popular Rock Band video game create an updated version based entirely on its songs. Now the same company’s giving the Beatles their very own game. It’s easy to see why.
Rock Band has sold 4 million copies, earning $600 million in revenues. And people can’t solely listen to music through the games, so it’s hard to see how it will cannibalize CD sales. Piracy is also less of an issue with video games. It’s a lot harder to download an entire illegal game than it is to rip and burn a couple of songs.
At some point the groups will probably have to embrace iTunes. US album sales have fallen over 25% in the past two years as consumers flock to the convenience of buying songs online. But with their transformation to video game avatars, the Beatles and AC/DC may be able to rock for a little while longer on their own.