Most complaints about Guitar Hero that I’ve seen so far have been based on the fairly specious theory that playing virtual guitar in a video game is going to somehow discourage kids from picking up an actual instrument–in fact I’ve seen testimony from guitar instructors that they’re busier than ever, with students specifically citing GH as the reason they decided to learn to play.
But DK Sweet at Metro Silicon Valley has come across a downside to the game that’s a fair bit more solid. It seems that while the companies behind GH are pulling in mind-boggling amounts of loot from the game, the musicians responsible for the note-perfect cover songs–the bulk of the game’s music–that players shred along to are getting the shaft. If you can slog through Sweet’s prose (“[O]ther members of the supposedly protected ‘creative class,’ take a hint from the title of a Judas Priest song included on Guitar Hero I: ‘You Got Another Thing Comin””) and overlook his fact-checking (Kotaku points out that “the video game industry does not bring in more cash than the music and movie industries combined, as Metro concludes”), a couple of decent points arise:
* The musicians who performed GH’s music were only paid 300 bucks per song.
* The games themselves have earned fuckloads of money.
* Since those shockingly accurate reproduction tracks that cost the games’ developers 300 bucks apiece are the big draw behind the project, maybe it would be nice to share some of that of money with the musicians.
Of course the session musicians did agree to record for an already wildly popular video game franchise for $300 per song, but if this story picks up, Activision’s going to look like total bastards if they don’t break them off a little something.