Today the New York Times* has a great article about Microsoft’s Xbox, and how Bill Gates basically screwed a bunch of bands to use their music in titles for the new video game console. The short version of the story is this. Microsoft gave a lot of small-time bands on indie labels an offer some of them apparently couldn’t refuse: Either give us your music for free or we’ll just get some other music from somebody else and you’ll lose out on a great “promotional” opportunity. Read the article and debate the merits of giving away creative work under the guise of promotion, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned as an artist, it’s that you don’t work for free, especially not for a corporation.
*If you have to read a daily newspaper, you might as well read the Times. Though it’s as suspect as any big media outlet, the hacks there seem to publish a better fishwrap than most anyone else on earth. And it’s free online if you register. And if that link to the article above doesn’t work, don’t blame me; because of the registration process for the Times Web site, it might not. If you can’t get it to work, register and search for the article, “For Musicians, Microsoft’s Xbox Is No Jackpot”. Or just go buy a Dead Tree Edition.