Games, Community and Music = Future of the Recording Industry

Summary: GTA IV is coming so get ready. Rock Band is the future of the record industry. And it’s community is growing. (Plus, Harmonix is hiring a Web designer.)

Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA IV) is coming our way, and sales are predicted to be huge. PSFK notes that Rockstar (the makers of Grand Theft Auto) and record labels are planning to create in-game radio-stations.

Is this partnership a seed of the music industry’s future? No. The real future of the music industry is with games like Rock Band.

Back in January, GigaOm claimed this is because RockBand makes the whole DRM cotroversy a moot point:

Games like Rock Band, Guitar Hero and Singstar take music beyond just the recording. This was the reasoning behind MTV’s purchase of Harmonix, and the subsequent release of Rock Band this holiday season. Marry this to Internet-connected consoles and storefronts like Microsoft’s XBox Live, and maybe music publishers can find ways to revitalize the musical experience.

And because of the work involved — annotating songs, splitting instrument tracks, and marking those elusive little stars — consumers will be hard-pressed to produce their own experiences. DRM won’t be relevant, because the content it protects is only a fraction of the experience the labels are selling.

All of that is true, although having created some of the songs for Guitar Hero I, I can tell you it’s an incredibly simple process. But here’s the bottom line:

RockBand’s strength is it’s a platform with a built-in community.

The real promise of Rock Band is that it synthesizes multiple experiences — rock tunes become an interactive, collaborative experience. Just fuel it with endless content, song upgrades, new album releases, and you’ve got a new way of monetizing music.

What’s so impressive to me about Rock Band on the XBOX 360 is the community element. Harmonix, the developers, will be able to link a group of friends playing the game together in a basement in Ohio, with the whole community on And they’re hiring a site designer to do just that.