The death of physical media has posed no shortage of questions to the broader music industry, which continues to grapple with the changing landscape. CD sales have been replaced by streaming services like Spotify, although the payout artists see from these platforms is often negligible.
The dawn of services like Napster created huge shockwaves and although the likes of Spotify have helped stifle musical piracy, the stream of income generated by physical music sales hasn’t been properly replaced since. The revival of vinyl has offered some respite and at least provides a canvas for visual expression, while limited-edition releases and re-issues can also keep the bank account ticking over. But it isn’t anywhere near enough.
As a result, more bands and artists are increasingly turning to touring and merchandising as their core revenue streams, though the rigors of an extended schedule are burning musicians out like never before. And whilst that arguably remains the most lucrative path, more and more artists are exploring more creative merchandising opportunities, including the licensing out of their brands and music for use in other media.
But is electro being left behind?
Gaming is the new game
One platform being explored by musicians is gaming, including console, PC and mobile, from the licensing out of music to the creation of actual musician-branded titles, featuring everything from logos and likenesses to playable band member characters.
Major recording artists have dipped their toe into this market in the past. Released in 1990 on the Sega Genesis, Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker allowed gamers to play as the iconic popstar, while the Revolution X arcade game released in 1994 featured the members of Aerosmith in starring roles. Later, around the turn of the century, games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater became as famous for its soundtrack as its gameplay. But fast-forward 20 years and those musical appearances are becoming more than occasional and limited not just to the industry’s biggest stars.
In particular, the rise of mobile gaming has created more opportunities than ever before. Apps across Android and iPhone are typically cheaper to develop and much easier to make available to a huge audience, who are often able to download titles for free in a matter of seconds.
Bands and artists to make the most of the opportunities in recent years include Ozzy Osbourne and Kiss, while the release of the Rock Band franchise of games, across console and mobile, has helped hundreds of bands and artists get paid for their music. The crossover has even reached the world of casino gaming, where recording artists are seeing their brand transformed into the latest casino or slots game. The slots industry alone is worth millions: if you take a look at websites like Bonus.ca, you can see not only that huge choice is available to players, but a range of bonuses that shows it is a competitive market.
So is electro behind the curve?
It’s noteworthy that relatively few electro artists have made this leap. You may argue that the demographics don’t match up, or that it compromises artistic integrity, but, as valid as those perspectives may be, the genre can’t afford to be left behind the curve.
Not only is it an opportunity to generate revenue, it can also help put brands in front of new people – and it may even be a channel for artists to win a new following, as opposed to just upselling to their existing fanbase.
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