Rock bands cashing in on 'Guitar Hero' players
Music video games are selling songs faster than labels
By RYAN NAKASHIMATHE ASSOCIATED PRESS
LOS ANGELES -- "This song is dedicated to Debbie Harry," flinty-eyed Lisa Hsuan purrs into a microphone on the red-lit stage of Hyperion Tavern. It's a cozy dive where patrons drink Coke and beer from bottles and a fading chandelier dangles overhead.
Her tribute is intentionally ludicrous: The 30-year-old veterinarian is about to belt out "Call Me," which Harry -- fronting the group Blondie -- released 28 years ago. Accompanied on fake guitars and drums by three Web programmers who drove in from the refinery-dotted coastal suburb of El Segundo, Hsuan launches in as a smoke machine puffs nearby.
They're playing the video game "Rock Band 2," which along with "Guitar Hero" is rocking bars and living rooms across the country. Many songs' sales have more than doubled after release in one of the games, and well-known bands have started lining up to provide new music direct to the game makers. Now record labels -- noticing what they are missing, and struggling as compact disc sales tumble -- are looking for a bigger piece of the action.
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KISS, "Detroit Rock City" (1976), Casablanca, released on "Rock Band": 3,400 downloads, up 89 percent.
Guns N' Roses, "Welcome to the Jungle" (1987), Geffen, released on "Guitar Hero III" Oct. 27, 2007: 38,000 downloads, up 153 percent.
Pat Benatar, "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" (1980), Chrysalis, released on "Guitar Hero III": 9,800 downloads, up 180 percent.
Aerosmith, "Dream On" (1973), Columbia, released on "Guitar Hero III": 10,000 downloads, up 15 percent.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Suck My Kiss" (1992), Warner Bros., released on "Guitar Hero III": 3,900 downloads, up 200 percent.
Nirvana, "In Bloom" (1992), DGC, released on "Rock Band," Nov. 20, 2007: 9,000 downloads, up 543 percent.