Aerosmith’s Revenues Jumped With ‘Guitar Hero’ – What Does It Mean For The Music Industry?

Aerosmith has perhaps shown the music industry a new way to make money as sales continue to steadily drop.

During the second half of last year, a surprising revelation came forth. Rock band Aerosmith had made more money from the game Guitar Hero than from any one of their albums — ever. Specifically, Aerosmith has made more money from licensing their songs and image for the Guitar Hero: Aerosmith game than from any one of their musical compilations.

While Aerosmith has sold a little over 150 million albums and each member currently has an estimated fortune of well over $100 million, the majority of their money still comes from a single video game. Way back in 2007, Aerosmith licensed a total of 29 of its songs to Activision, the American video game publisher behind the hugely successful franchise Guitar Hero.

One year later, in June 2008, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith went on sale and earned over $25 million (almost 600,000 copies) in its first market week alone. To date, the video game has sold over four million copies. In contrast, Aerosmith’s 2004 album Honkin’ on Bobo only sold just about 160,000 copies and grossed only about $2 million in its first week of sales.

Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision, explained, “Aerosmith’s version of Guitar Hero generated far more in revenues than any Aerosmith album ever has.”

In retrospect, this has always been an open secret in the entertainment industry. Back in the recording industry’s most profitable years, bands were making more money from live appearances, merchandise, cross-promotions, concerts, and video games than they ever did from album sales or digital downloads from online retailers.

Allow Your Listeners To Be A Part Of The Music

It’s no secret — album sales are taking a huge dive. Last year, 257 million albums (CD, vinyl, and digital) were sold, which represents a drop of 11 percent from 2013, which saw a sale of 289 million albums. However, what’s concerning in the increasingly digital world is the fact that digital sales too were down 9.4 percent from the previous year.

Fortunately, bands like Aerosmith have shown where the industry should look to earn its next handsome paycheck. Activision revealed Guitar Hero: Aerosmith has earned the band more royalties than any of their albums. If bands want to renew interest in their work, they have to look at new avenues of exposure. Interestingly, owing to their participation in the game, Aerosmith saw a huge uptick in sales from their back catalog as well.

Essentially, allowing your audience to “be a part” of the music is more important than giving them access to the creations.

[Image Credit | Activision]