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Having Music In “Grand Theft Auto IV” Is Better Than Having A Hit Single

When it was announced last week that music from DJ Green Lantern’s station, “The Beat,” in the Grand Theft Auto IV video game, would be released digitally for retail purchase, the whole concept of it seemed pretty interesting to me. For one, the music from the game is actually already available for purchase through some weird functionality with, where you dial in a # on Niko’s phone and then if you’re signed up in real life on Rockstar’s website you can get a link emailed to you where you can purchase the songs digitally on Amazon. That’s a pretty complicated process, at least in my opinion, but I guess it was added incentive when negotiating the licensing agreements with the labels.

In any event, Green’s got an album coming out with music from his station on it, as well as music inspired by the game.

01. Intro
02. Styles P – What’s the Problem
03. Busta Rhymes – Where’s My Money
04. Wyclef, Uncle Murda & Mavado – Informer
05. Joell Ortiz & Dante Hawkins – Alone
06. Jim Jones & Juelz Santana – Bustin’ Shots
07. Maino – Get Away Driver
08. Uncle Murda – Anybody Can Get It
09. Fabolous & Fat Joe – I’m So Fly
10. Qadir – Nickname
11. 38 Special, Fever & Dwayne – Streets Raised Me
12. Clipse feat. Re-Up Gang – 9mm
13. Heltah Skeltah feat. Buckshot – Can’t Trust Em
14. Red Café – Stick’m
15. Immortal Technique – Parole
16. Tru Life – Wet Em Up
17. Johnny Polygon – Price On Your Head

It’s sort of like that whole thing labels used to do with movies back in the mid to late 90s, when people actually gave a shit about movies and music to the point where they’d actually pay for a product “inspired” by it. In reality it was just a way for all parties involved to squeeze a few more dollars from the marketing push.

Still and all, what’s dope about Green Lantern having his own album with music from the game is that a) he’s producing the entire thing, so it’s another great platform for his production and b) it’s already been proven that a shiteload of people have bought the game, so they’re familiar with the songs.

Plus the music’s being released digitally first, meaning no manufacturing, pressing and distribution costs- in essence, there’s money being made from dollar one. So it’s smart from a business standpoint. Liberty City Invasion, for all intensive purposes, is a legal mixtape, sanctioned by the good folks at Rockstar Games. Look at the tracklist. If this was a regular mixtape for the streets, it’s not like any of these acts wouldn’t be on it. It’s the same shit. Green Lantern>>>>> every other “on da grind” mixtape DJ on the planet.

Which brings me to my next point, the idea that having a song in Grand Theft Auto IV is better than having a hit single. That is something I truly believe. Why? Because let’s face it, video games have easily supplanted movies, music, and pretty much everything else in the world of entertainment as the dominant force of our generation. Let’s stop comparing Soundscan #’s from irrelevant rappers who can barely string together a few coherent sentences, let alone an entire album of songs. Let’s start analyzing console sales figures like THESE. How Nintendo’s Wii is still outselling Xboxes and PS3s.

Let’s talk about how Grand Theft Auto IV sold 3.6 MILLION copies on its first day of release. Let’s keep it real, most rappers these days can hardly get 50 thousand people to buy their shit in an entire YEAR, and that product costs 10-13 dollars, and can be purchased literally with the click of a button on your computer. Not only that, but the artists themselves spend 3-6 months promoting the shit out of it, they have their songs on the radio every 3 seconds, create all sorts of dumb viral videos and fictional beefs to drum up hype, and an entire building of employees (read: what most major label employees spend their days doing) adding Myspace and Facebook friends, and sending out stupid bulletins all day long. Pathetic.

Meanwhile you’ve got this video game in your hands that you paid 50 dollars for, never mind the console itself, which ran you something like 400, just so you could play. And you’ve got GTA4, with it’s myriad selection of radio stations where you can actually (gasp!) hear incredible music. Not just top40 bullshit or whatever joe schmoe at Clearchannel punched into the Urban AC playlist this week. You can hear Funk and Jazz and Rock and Hip-Hop and Reggae and Disco. I live in New York City, the media capital of the world, and for the life of me I can’t tell you where on my FM dial I can actually hear all of the genres I just mentioned. Shit I don’t think we even have an oldies station here except for CBS FM.

Point is that when you have access to this music, and you’re engaged in a game as deep as GTA4, it’s almost impossible to not become connected to the music on the game’s radio stations. I myself have googled the soundtrack a bunch of times just to see which songs were playing on what stations. And you know what, even if I went and downloaded the particular song I was interested in illegally (which I haven’t, but just saying), at least my eyes and attention are now on that artist. And they may make money off me in some other way, be it by going to their concert, or purchasing their merchandise or whatever. Whereas with regular radio, how many times can I hear Usher’s “Love In This Club?” If I’m hearing it 60 times a day, why would I actually buy the album? I can just turn the radio on. But it costs so much for acts to get their music on the radio. Rising costs + decreasing % of return on investment= bad economics.

So I see something like Liberty City Invasion as this amazing opportunity for Green Lantern to showcase his music to people who are actually interested, without having to ram it down their throats (pause) like most people in the rap business do these days. It’s a zero cost product that sells itself, because it already served its purpose by being in the game. And if that’s where people’s attention spans are these days, seems like a no brainer to me. Because I don’t know anyone tuned into MTV, BET, or any radio station to the point where they are giving it their full attention. Not like they’re giving it to their Xbox, PS3, or Wii. And aren’t those the type of people you want to be focusing on, the ones who’re actually paying attention?

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