Can the popularity of Rock Band franchise translate and extend the timeless — but let’s face it, musically archaic — Beatles catalog to a generation of folks who grew up disconnected from the album, AOR radio but have come of age in a time when music is effectively a public good? And speaking of “public goods,” can music videos ever be more than a promotional tool?
Short answers: Perhaps and unlikely.
This tells us the Beatles, MTV and Rock band are going to punch parts of the Beatles storied catalog into the digital age via video games. MTV’s RockBand unit, including Harmonix (which makes the actual gear) are going to release “The Beatles: Rock Band” on 9/9/09. (I can only guess that this is a play on “Revolution 9” from The White Album.) The new game will be available on Xbox 360, PLAYSTATION 3 and Wii consoles.
When I was a kid in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s (that’s 1960s and 1970s), one of the adolescent litmus tests for any new set of social engagements was were you a Beatles person or a Stones person. (Queen vs. Rush? Please.) I suppose now the litmus test will be “what’d you score on ‘Across the Universe?’ “
In other news here (WSJ, subscription required), Universal Music and YouTube are apparently hammering out a deal, or trying to anyhow, to create a channel for premium music videos. The hope is that premium video from rightsholders like Universal could mean premium ad dollars. Perhaps. In the WSJ story, Google CEO Eric Schmidt muses that something like an “iTunes” for music videos is needed. I dunno. Music videos started out as promotional fodder; accounted for in the same cost lines as travel, hotel-room damages and “flowers and favors” and it seems as if consumers value them about at about the same level.
To be sure, I think Schmidt was invoking iTunes’ “experience” value to consumers, not as a pure transaction storefront.