It’s not uncommon for a music act to sign a 360 deal, a contract in which a record label receives a percentage from all of an artist’s moneymaking activities. In return, the record label will act as a pseudo-manager, hunting out deals and various other ventures for the artist under contract. These deals, however, may not be the most ideal, as pointed out by Billboard in an article about the music industry being in flux. The reason being, some “labels lack the infrastructure to enforce the deals and collect touring revenue,” while others are “reluctant to risk legal and PR headaches to recover income they can’t track.”
Savvy artists, though, know better. Rather than be boxed in by a 360 deal, they find other ways to earn. One such way is creating a presence in the gaming world by contributing songs for a fee, “lending” their images and likeness (again, for a fee), and allowing their names to be used. It is a wise move given that the gaming industry, according to an article on The Guardian, was expected to generate $137.9 billion ($185.5 billion CAD) in 2018. The article notes that millions of people discover their new favorite bands or dive into other musical genres when they encounter them in gaming. On other occasions, people “develop a strong emotional attachment” to artists because they discovered their music while doing something they love, which is playing games.
Guns N’ Roses
It was back in 2016 when Guns N’ Roses(GNR) announced a world tour, underscoring their massive popularity decades after they released Appetite for Destruction. Their foray into the gaming world extends to the late 2000s when the band contributed “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and “Welcome to the Jungle to Guitar Hero II and Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, respectively. A year later, they contributed “Paradise City” to the game Burnout Paradise, which was remastered last year. Today, the GNR brand is used extensively in slot games. The Guns N’ Roses video title is one of several official releases listed by TuxSlots on their blog. The slot game pays homage to GNR, as it features images of the band members, the GNR logo, and covers of their albums.
Like GNR, KISS are featured in Sandlot Games’ band-themed online slots via KISS: Shout It Out Loud, which even feature footage from the band’s most popular live concerts playing in the background. KISS have also contributed songs — “Strutter,” “Shout It Out Loud,” and “Crazy Crazy Nights” to name three — to the Guitar Hero series. Additionally, KISS released in 2017 the mobile game KISS Rock City, where a player’s objective is to work their way up the band’s hierarchy. KISS are also the inspiration behind Kiss: Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child, which in turn is based on a series of comic books inspired by, yes, KISS themselves.
Despite Motörhead choosing not to continue after the death of their legendary frontman Lemmy, their presence in the gaming world is undeniable. The band have their own online slot, aptly named Motörhead Video Slot. The band also helped Haemimont Games develop Motörhead Through The Ages, which was released in 2017 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It is an action role-playing game that features the band’s members, as well as their most iconic songs. It’s just too bad Motörhead are retired; at the very least, though, they left behind for their fans a great collection of songs and even a strong presence in the gaming world.
The great Jimi Hendrix may be long gone, but his music lives on, as does his global presence. A fixture in online slot games, Hendrix is also the star of The Jimi Hendrix Case, a game developed and released by Adventure Game Studio in 2015. Hendrix’s likeness and songs — “Purple Haze” and “The Wind Cries Mary” — are also licensed to Guitar Hero.
ZZ Top may be the oldest in this list, but they have a presence in the gaming world nonetheless. Nothing too fancy, though, as they are like GNR and KISS: a few songs — “Sharp Dressed Man” and “La Grange” — for the Guitar Hero series plus a couple of slot games in their honor.
Given how lucrative the gaming industry has become, it’s surprising that only a handful have taken full advantage of it. Those who have done so, like the artists on this list, have been able to create a strong, and profitable, presence in the industry. They have also been able to introduce their music to a wider audience, thus, growing their popularity and fan base.