Atari iTunes in with new "Driver" game

Posted by jgaudiosi :: Music & Video Games

Atari is offering the 70 songs from its "Driver: Parallel Lines" soundtrack on Apple's While the bulk of this music is licensed, Atari worked with groups like Public Enemy, Grandmaster Flash, Suicide, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arthur Baker, Mylo, Paul Oakenfold, and Lifesavas featuring Vernon Reid and the Audio Bullys to create exclusive music for the soundtrack. In addition to the brand new exclusives, the two eras will be underscored by a remarkable roster of legendary music, with David Bowie, Blondie, Iggy Pop, WAR, The Temptations, Funkadelic, Marvin Gaye, Parliament, and Average White Band amongst those scoring the 1970's era, and bands including The Roots, LCD Soundsystem, TV on the Radio.

While Atari's not the first game publisher to get involved in digitally distributed music, it's a growing trend. Electronic Arts dabbled with iTunes a few years back with its "The Sims 2" PC game and expanded its offerings in November of last year. The game publisher now offers soundtracks for dozens of its games, including new releases, through online music services like AOL Music, iTunes, Yahoo! Music and MSN.

EA, Microsoft, Activision and now-defunct Simon & Schuster Interactive all experimented with CD videogame soundtracks over the past few years. EA even shipped a CD soundtrack inside the case of one of its "NBA Live" games. But videogame soundtracks didn't catch on like movie and TV soundtracks did.

Digital distribution is changing that. Gamers are now downloading songs from games to their iPods, PSP or other MP3 players. Steve Schnur, a former music industry exec now in charge of EA's music business, told me last year that next generation consoles and their broadband services will open up new doors for game publishers to reach out to gamers. Xbox 360 already allows gamers to plug in an iPod and listen to music during games. That console also allows gamers to create custom MP3 soundtracks.

Taking things a step further, EA could debut exclusive tracks or new artists in next generation "Madden" games and then offer gamers the ability to download that song, the entire soundtrack or a collection of songs from a particular artist directly to their console. EA has become more involved in the music business over the past year or so, teaming up with music companies to gear up for this new evolution of music distribution.

PlayStation 3, Xbox 360--and even Revolution--will all have broadband connections that can connect gamers directly to the music they want to hear. While iTunes won't be going away, gamers will have new options over the coming years when it comes to music. Factor in Sony's PSP commitment and PS3, and there will be more opporunities for the growing number of gamers to get whatever song they want from whatever game they like instantly.

The music industry already relies heavily on videogames to introduce new bands and bring new music to the masses. It looks like game publishers will be playing an even bigger role in the distribution of these songs to gamers over the coming years, especially as next generation consoles branch out the the mainstream. Videogame soundtracks on CDs may be dead, but they're alive and kicking in the digital realm--and that opens up many more opportunities for both music and game companies in the years ahead.


Henry Wood

Games should use much more source music.. instead of getting shabby artists to create original soundtracks..

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