Last week I was was locked up in Bradford beavering away in the studio and during a chat with my producer chums I was introduced to ‘mogg’ files, an audio format similar to MP3 or WAV. Harmonix use this file format for Rockband as do Activision within Guitar Hero.
These files are usually encrypted but as some clever chap has discovered if you load the Rockband mogg files into a certain piece of audio software the encryption vanishes. Oops. This means the separate tracks – lead, backing vocals, guitars, and drums etc. – for a rather large selection of songs are now out in the wild. Queen, Oasis, Nirvana and Guns and Roses, the full studio tracks perfectly mastered and laid bare for bootleggers to remix.
For obvious reasons record labels are very protective of these master recordings but now you are a mere Google away from hearing Freddie Mercury singing Bohemian Rhapsody accapella or an instrumental version of ‘Wonderwall’ without the whiny northern ‘singing’. Talking of mash-up mixes..
Channel Four are reporting that artists featured on DJ Hero are earning around one cent (less than one pence) per song sold, a ridiculous amount when you consider The Beatles (or surviving relatives) are getting a share of a guaranteed $50 million for their version of Rockband. Rumbles within the music industry regarding the fair pricing of tracks used games are starting,
“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.”
A media lawyer on the Channel Four program says,
“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 thought occurs that DJ Hero is similarly priced to Guitar Hero and yet no Rock Gods have voiced a complaint about royalties. If the DJ Hero artists are recieving less than a cent per song, there are about 50 songs all of which are mash ups containg two tracks, so that totals about 100 songs, or one lovely green dollar our of the RRP of $119.99. Those of you good with the calculator will of worked out that leaves $118.99 to be split between the stockist and Activision.