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Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2008 9:10 AM

The Guitar Heroes at Red Octane Lock Up Aerosmith With An Exclusive Arrangement, Leaving Harmonix and Rock Band to Dream On

N'Gai Croal
 Aerosmith singer Steve Tyler in concert

With the rising popularity of rhythm games like SingStar, Guitar Hero and Rock Band, is it only a matter of time before some acts start going exclusive in exchange for more loot. Ever since Harmonix and MTV Games revealed last year that they would be offering full-length albums for download in Rock Band, followed by Red Octane and Activision's announcement that they planned to build an entire Guitar Hero game around a single band like Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, we've wondered whether the game makers were locking up exclusive rights to featured acts. It hasn't been easy finding out, because the relevant developers and publishers have been surprisingly reticent to discuss this matter.

Still, we persevered, and with an assist from NEWSWEEK business reporter Ashley Harris, we've learned that Aerosmith is indeed exclusive to Guitar Hero for an unspecified period of time. "It's an exclusive deal for this game," Aerosmith publicist Marcee Rondon told Harris. We confirmed this with Tim Riley, Activision's vice president of music affairs, who told us through Activision PR that "I can say that we do have the band exclusively, and their catalogue should be exclusive to us beyond the one or two tracks they had licensed out to Rock Band before we made our deal." (According to MTV's Rhythm Game Track Finder, it's one song: "Train Kept a Rollin'.")

So there you have it: we should not expect to hear Steve Tyler's signature wail or Joe Perry's shredding in Rock Band anytime soon. And given the nature of Aerosmith's involvement in the upcoming title--the band's name is in the title; their likenesses have been licensed; band members participated in motion capture sessions for the game--it makes sense that Red Octane and Activision wouldn't want to see albums like "Toys In the Attic" or "Get a Grip" turn up in the Rock Band store. But it does mean that for the time being rhythm game fans with catholic (lowercase "c") tastes will have to continue buying both games in order to scratch every itch, rather than being able to count on one title or the other to serve as the Ultimate Music Game. We'll keep pushing Harmonix and MTV Games to find out whether they've signed up any artists to exclusive deals for Rock Band (Jeff, Bryce--holla at ya boy!), and once we do, we'll be sure to pass the scoop on to you.

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Member Comments

Posted By: SBouren (April 30, 2008 at 9:17 AM)

I don't mean to be snarky, but losing the possibility of Aerosmith songs in Rock Band doesn't seem like any big loss to me.  I honestly couldn't care less and if I did care, I'd simply buy GH: Aerosmith, which I won't do.  I doubt the loss of one band will have any effect whatsoever on Harmonix's bottom line.  It's not as if there aren't thousands of other songs and artists to pursue.

Posted By: SpaceShot (April 30, 2008 at 9:06 AM)

It may be time to start boycotting Activision, too.  Of course, then I'd have no games left to play.  I already avoid any EA game that as a chance of being shut down in a year on XBL.

This exclusive business is really disgusting.  But oh well, at least in music there is so much to choose from I won't miss Aerosmith at all when I exclusively play Harmonix games.

Posted By: copa (April 29, 2008 at 1:06 PM)

"(According to MTV's Rhythm Game Track Finder, it's one song: "Train Kept a Rollin'.")"

I'm not so sure about that, N'Gai. For Train Kept a Rollin', Harmonix did a cover of the Aerosmith song, which itself was a cover of another original performance. Kinda complex, but they don't actually need rights from Aerosmith to do this.

The same principle applied in Guitar Hero 2, when they did a cover of Van Halen's cover of the Kink's "You Really Got Me." Van Halen doesn't allow any of their songs to be used in these games, but Harmonix was able to bypass rights approval in this case.

It sounds to me from Activision's statement that Harmonix actually has one or two yet-to-be-released Aerosmith songs lined up for DLC. Maybe they plan to release them when GH:Aerosmith comes out. :)

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