Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Heard the latest track from Grand Theft Auto?

The biggest music event of the week was not that Coldplay downplay, but rather the release of Grand Theft Auto IV. With publishers Take-Two Interactive/Rockstar Games claiming pre-order sales of $360 million – easily besting the $170 million banked by …

Fri, May 2, 2008, 08:16

   

The biggest music event of the week was not that Coldplay downplay, but rather the release of Grand Theft Auto IV.

With publishers Take-Two Interactive/Rockstar Games claiming pre-order sales of $360 million – easily besting the $170 million banked by Halo 3 in 2007 – GTA IV is expected to become the biggest selling game of all time.
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Many music-business analysts have been taking a close look at the economics behind the music content used in the game.

Around 200 tracks are used in GTA IV. Rockstar Games music supervisor Ivan Pavlovich told Billboard magazine that it took his team more than 18 months to get the rights to what is the largest soundtrack of any videogame to date.

Pavlovich did not disclose the amounts paid per track, but Billboard estimates Rockstar’s spend at around $5,000 per composition and another $5,000 per master recording per track, pushing the total music budget for the game to about $2 million.

While many labels and musicians have seen placement in games as more about promotion than money (and indeed, many acts would regard a $10,000 synch fee as being a bit on the low side), Rockstar’s willingness to splash the cash may well entice hitherto reluctant acts to license their music for use in the future. However, bigger names, and larger fees, may not be as attractive to Rockstar.

As it is, GTA ‘s latest soundtrack is an eclectic mix of eastern European pop music, Jamaican dancehall, global funk and new tracks from hip-hop DJ Green Lantern, as well as hits from Smashing Pumpkins, Queen, The Who and others.

But aside from calculating synch fees, those left in the record industry should also be wondering why a new music release will never generate the same amount of anticipation, media attention and over-the-counter sales as GTA IV .

When it comes to entertainment, value for money and excitement, it seems none of pop’s megastars can compete with a fictional eastern European immigrant called Niko Bellic finding his way around Liberty City.