Are music games ripping off artists?

Could the video games industry be exploiting musicians; left with little option than to sell their wares super-cheap due to pressures from piracy?

That’s the question posed by a Channel 4 News report today, which reveals that a sale of a music game featuring a musician’s track earns them just one tenth of what an equivalent music CD would generate.

The feature reveals that musicians earn around one [US] cent for each [game] sold”.

Tom Frederikse, media lawyer at Clintons solicitors told the programme:

Piracy is such a difficult factor for [songwriters] to deal with – that it’s not a level playing field. They don’t have a core business that they can rely on as they used to. They’re forced to go to revenue streams they otherwise wouldn’t do. That really makes them negotiate at a disadvantage compared to the games companies.”

The flip-side of the argument is represented by beatboxer DJ DJ Shlomo, who is thankful for the exposure DJ Hero has given his music.

He adds: "Computer games is a fantastic way of people hearing your music – and they are actually paying for it.”

MCV doubts the fears over royalty payments extend to The Beatles: Rock Band – reportedly the most expensive licensing deal in the industry’s history.

However, the report signs off with an ominous prediction of war between the music and games trades:

Computer games companies say it’s a free market and the rate they pay is fair,” says journalist Ben King. But one of the big record labels has called for a better deal – others may soon follow.”

Activision boss Bobby Kotick launched a broadside from the games industry’s side of the fence last August – after Warner reportedly complained about poor royalty payments from music games.

DJ Hero hit No.20 in the UK ELSPA/GfK-ChartTrack All Formats Top 40 this morning.

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