Thursday, December 09, 2004

The new MTV

There was a time when success in the music industry depended on getting your video aired on MTV. From the 1980s onwards, platinum success depended on that kind of exposure, seen most spectacularly in 1991, when MTV put Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on Buzz Bin rotation and unleashed grunge – a genre that had been around for more than a half a decade, languishing in local live circuits.

Well, move over MTV, gaming’s here. The new ticket to success for musicians is to get their songs included on the soundtrack of video games. Jose Antonio Vargas writes in the Washington Post of how the new hip-hop kid in town, the Game (real name – Jayceon Taylor), is trying onto the soundtrack of Madden NFL 2005, a follow-up to last year’s best-selling game, Madden NFL 2004.

Vargas writes, “The competition to get onto the game's soundtrack – a lineup of thumping, furious, go-play-ball songs – is fierce. Last year record labels sent more than 2,500 songs to vie for the game's 21 tracks, which included Hoobastank's ‘Same Direction,’ New Found Glory's ‘This Disaster’ and Yung Wun's ‘Yung Wun Anthem’.”

And it isn’t just new artists who need to get that break. “For artists as established as Green Day, whose 'American Idiot' has just been nominated for a Grammy as record of the year, winning a spot on Madden NFL's soundtrack is like having a 20-second commercial on ‘Monday Night Football’ or ‘Desperate Housewives’,” writes Vargas. “For an up-and-comer such as the Game, it's an even bigger deal, the kind of break that gives instant celebrity. For both, it's a new route to an old audience, as sure a bet as any when it comes to grabbing a prized demographic: 18-to-34-year-old males, 75 percent of whom play video games.”

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