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"The record industry has come to realize that the reach, buzz and cultural impact of MTV in the last century can be achieved by video games this century."
——EA’s Steve Schnur
LABELS SAY OK GO TO VIDEO GAMES
Video Games Now Viewed as a Powerful Marketing Tool to Help Break Bands, Music

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. The record industry is discovering that video games, rather than competition for the teenage dollar, can be a strong ally.

Cited as one of the reasons for plummeting record sales since the late ’70s, video games are now being viewed as a powerful marketing tool that can deliver the same audience, and even break records.

Capitol Records group OK Go’s first single, "Get Over It," from their self-titled debut, began drawing attention after being included on Electronic ArtsMadden NFL 2003 PlayStation2 game, which came out last month.

In the absence of extensive airplay, OK Go's better-than-expected first-week sales could very well be attributed to exposure in the Madden game.

KJEE Santa Barbara PD/GM Eddie Gutierrez says the track didn’t register until he heard it while playing the game with some friends, which prompted him to add "Get Over It." "I could see it as a Top 10 request in the next week or two," he says. "And I think Madden gets all the credit."

Other radio PDs who are also PS2 fanatics, like WHFS D.C.’s Bob Waugh, 91X San Diego’s Brian Shock, Y100 Philadelphia’s Jim McGuinn and WFNX Boston’s Cruze, have begun playing the song.

Capitol VP Rock & Alternative Promotion Gary Spivack interrupted his Pong game to add: "You can’t just throw radio a great song from a new band in a vacuum—you’ll get lost in the shuffle. This kind of unconventional, out-of-the-box guerilla marketing only serves to complement what we’re doing promotionally."

According to EA Worldwide Executive of Music and Audio/Creative VP Steve Schnur, a former A&R exec, the Madden game will sell 5 million units and generate up to 500 million total spins for the included songs. "The record industry has come to realize that the reach, buzz and cultural impact of MTV in the last century can be achieved by video games this century," he says. "The ability to expose new music and artists is built-in for consumers who are naturally buying this product anyway."

Epic Records will release seven separate soundtracks as well as a box set in conjunction with the latest installment of Rockstar Games’ controversial Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, all of which hit retail Oct. 29. The PS2 game features players competing to see who can hotwire a car and get away from the cops while overcoming hookers, crooks and all sorts of urban dangers. Altogether, the three previous Grand Theft Auto game releases have exceeded 12 million units in sales.

Said label VP Marketing Piero Giramonti, who just ran over a derelict to earn 100 points: "Music enhances the whole gaming experience. It’s an excellent opportunity to reach the same consumer base. Grand Theft Auto is probably the most well-established video game brand in the world. We’re treating games as another visual medium in which music plays an important part."

The seven albums represent the "definitive ’80s music collection," containing musical tracks from the game’s individual radio stations, which have become a key element, featuring commercial parodies, jingles and DJs. The music, ranging from metal and soul to hip-hop and pop, includes Judas Priest, Blondie, A Flock of Seagulls, Kool & the Gang, Hall & Oates and Grandmaster Flash.

The soundtrack CDs serve as special keys to unlock exclusive content, including cheat codes, screensavers and wallpaper, at Epic’s special Vice City Soundtracks website (www.vicecityradio.com).

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