The popular American rock band, Aerosmith, also referred to as “The Bad Boys from Boston” and “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band”, have apparently sold over 150 million albums, estimating each band member’s fortune at over $100 million. However, the most interesting news is that from 2008 onwards, the majority of their profits have apparently rolled in from a video game.
In 2007, the band is said to have licensed 29 songs to Activision, the American video game publisher behind the popular and very successful franchise, Guitar Hero. In one year’s time, namely in June 2008, the Guitar Hero: Aerosmith title went on sale, having said to have brought over $25 million by selling almost 600,000 copies of the game in the first week and reaching an estimated 4 million copies sold to date. In comparison, the band’s 2004 album, Honkin’ on Bobo, sold about 160,000 copies and received only $2 million in the first week of sale.
This is just an example of one band’s profits coming largely from endorsements, cross-promotions, concerts and even video games in this case, compared to their album sales and digital downloads. It is said that last summer, 11 albums had sold 500,000 copies, having only 5 albums doing so well this year. Some musicians are also suggesting a strategy where they should “make high upfront investments in albums, and then set correspondingly high prices on them at retail.” However, given the album sale decline, the latter strategy would only make the decline in sales faster.
All in all, Aerosmith’s strategy might seem to make the most sense. We all live in an era where it’s more or less free to make digital copies of songs, having music itself not being scarce at all. The key appears not to be the artist’s music, but their brand, having bands earning more from it than from their albums.