To quote an old Rush song, “You don’t get something for nothing”

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.

9 thoughts on “To quote an old Rush song, “You don’t get something for nothing””

  1. I believe I can quote the Bill Gates charachter on last night’s Simpsons episode: “I didn’t get rich by writing alot of checks!”

  2. Oh man, don’t get me started on Gates and Micro$oft – they ARE the Great Satan! You Windows saps ought to wake up and buy ANYTHING else but that.I don’t want to start some Apple/Windows argument or whatever, but for real-at least TRY to keep Bill Gates from making any more money, won’t you?And as far as screwing musicians out of royalties, does that really surprise anyone? I’d be surprised if they didn’t…they’ll probably turn around and sue some of these bands for using XBox-branded music at their live shows.

  3. Oh how I wish I could turn my back on Bill forever. If I didn’t work in a job in which I have to use a computer every day. I am still thinking Linux might help save me. I’ve got a computer just waiting for me to find the time to wrestle with it.

  4. Hehe, maybe if the artist would make Bill Register the titles through a complex method of using internet access and a fingerprint of the other components in the home audio system that the Xbox is plugged into, and then limit any changes of to the home audion system to two upgrades, then I could justify it. But who I am I kidding, Bill would never go for that.

  5. Try this link to get to the Times if you don’t want to register. It routes through>MSFT->news->11/15 and doesn’t require registration (assuming it works on the copy paste).

  6. As someone who is in the computer games industry and has worked for a company that is developing a game for Microsoft for the X-Box, and has worked on a title that had tracks from Mixmaster Mike, Metallica, Primus, and others, I have a bit perspective on the situation. First of all, Microsoft is trying to launch a brand new console to compete against Sony and Nintendo. They are also trying to be a game publisher. To do this they are trying to get a bunch of low-medium budget titles out there that show off their technology. The less they spend on the music, the better. The only games that are going to license $10K tracks are high profile, “A” titles. The one we did was a Hot Wheels game: Huge License, Huge Bands, Crappy game, Decent profits. The kids, instead of getting crappy video game music composed by some dork in a sound studio on protools, get music by some band whose name will be in the credits. If the kids care enough to read and aren’t savvy enough to download the music off of the internet, they can pick up a CD. Should MS be paying more than nothing? Sure, but they are completely correct when they say that for any band that signed on for one of these games, there are 10 more that would have done the same for nothing. In reality, even if the bands would have signed on for a back end royalty of the games, they still would receive little to nothing. That’s the way things work in this industry. Get your money up front if you want any at all. It’s the capitalist market. Everybody is pushing something. Read gsv’s article about Britney, the second to the last paragraph, it’s the premise in a nutshell. Microsoft may be the “Evil” of the moment, taking over from AT&T (who is trying to reclaim it), but AOL is waiting in the wings and Sony is on deck. Screw them all, just leave my paycheck alone.

  7. Gotta love my little brother: “Screw them all, just leave my paycheck alone.”This attitude is what’s responsible for the Decline of Western Civilization.What ever happened to the ideals of the ’60s?

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