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 Amazon.com, 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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  • OmegaSun73

    Yo i’m playing GTA IV right now. Big up to green Rochester STAND UP

  • Crispy Bacon

    I agree.


  • ri067953

    Radio and Television are a dying media format. Remember how Satallite radio was supposed to be the shit but they can’t hold onto subscribers because most people hardly listen to the radio anymore. What really killed the industry was the merging of the major record labels a few years ago. They are all stuck in a time wrap where they think throwing money into an artist will make them sell. We are living in an era where money is not as disposable as it used to be so people are not buying shit just because MTV or radio says that it’s hot. It is more important that an artist make a connection with people in order to sell music. Artist, in particular, hip-hop artist will have to come down off their high horse and start making music that connects with people, not just I am more of a baller then you type shit. Regular people are not instrested by that bling shit no more.

    • Burnout

      Oh really? Then how come so many stupid-ass motherfuckers are always listening to all that pop-influenced shit you’ll hear on these Top 40 radio stations? They will play the same commercialized bullshit every hour on the hour. And then whenever you look at those people, they are making themselves look as ignorant as they possibly can by not even giving a fuck about anything like this. As long as so everyone else has it as their ringtone, then that means it’s a good-ass song, even though in a couple of months no one will be listening to it anymore. Look at all the real artists like Common, The Roots, Talib Kweli, Lupe Fiasco. They all make the kind of thought-provoking shit that should be connecting with all sorts of people. But, oh no. Our society has gotten to the point where it does not give a fuck about anything like that, because the present-day world is more focused about having a good time and getting paid more than it is about innocent persons getting beat up by police in Philadelphia or that the poorest county in the nation is just an hour away from Chicago. No, we’re just going to keep on partying our asses away until we’ve fucked ourselves up so bad that it will be too late to stop it.

  • ri067953

    Yo Burnout, they listening to that shit, but guess what, they ain’t buying it like they used to. The teenyboppers eat that shit up but I am speaking from the perspective of a grown 30 year old man. I know that I ain’t buying music based on radio spins or media exposure.

  • http://www.incilin.blogspot.com Incilin

    Dam, this whole site is on fire. Another great fucking post. I been saying this for years. Plus you gota remember all the songs you hear while playing Madden or GTA or whatever really do sell records. Those songs will play constantly on rotation and sooner or later you’ll find yourself knowing all the lyrics to the songs in weeks.

    Plus, the radio always tries to cater to the largest possible audience but hardly ever wins the 18-30 male audience. Something games consistently win out on. And the music GTA has is the kind of music that 18-30 hip hop crowd would want to hear. I sure like most of the artists on that tracklist.

    Again, great post dude.

  • http://hiphoponmymind.blogspot.com DJ Daddy Mack

    “Green Lantern>>>>> every other “on da grind” mixtape DJ on the planet.”


    “But it costs so much for acts to get their music on the radio. Rising costs + decreasing % of return on investment= bad economics.”

    It sucks. They should hit up college stations and internet radio. dats where it is at.

    I always thought that the GTA radio was a great way to get unknowns out there. I remember rapping every word I heard from cats I never heard of.

    But yea man, you did fucking great with this post. 5/5

  • moresickaMC

    Damn….ure right I hadnt realized this. The artists who have their music on GTA are gonna cake! Smart move

  • http://haterplayer.blogspot.com/ fakerthanfake

    so do you think this single case with gtaIV is a good idea? like getting on the soundtrack to THIS game is a good idea?

    or are you saying that the general idea of marketing your music on video games is a good idea?

    i think it works well with a game like gta. but if i heard any rap music while i was playing ninja gaiden, it just wouldn’t fit and the game would suck more because of it.

  • Mr. Rogers

    The songs on Madden get more plays than the top radio requested songs…so “extrapolate that”

  • http://www.rizzleworld.blogspot.com allnice

    I really feel what you just wrote. Keep it coming!

  • http://www.pmpworldwide.com AZ

    Good post my dude…its all about the user-end experience and video games, online social networking, SIMS/Second Life, etc is beating the pants off of music as a ‘stand-alone’ product of value. You have to focus on the non-traditional routes because the commercial radio hit record way for hip-hop is finished. I’m sure the money Green gets off of this GTA IV situation will be way more than anything he can get off the traditional route. Hip Hop has to start creating and OWNING its own paths if its to have any economic viability moving on to the future.

  • http://www.xxlmag.com @juxamist Pydrariendone

    I’m re-twit you post: to my @juxamist twitter