‘Guitar Hero’ gives rock a pulse in generation of new music

By Matt Murray

Since the turn of the millennium, rock music has been on its deathbed. But its revival may have arrived in the form of a video game.

In a decade where hip-hop and R&B music dominates the Billboard Top 40, Activision’s “Guitar Hero” series has created a place for rock music to be appreciated again.

The music industry is constantly changing with the introduction of new technology such as the You Tube Web site and peer-to-peer file sharing programs, and “Guitar Hero” has shaped a new way for the struggling industry to generate revenue.

Just how successful has “Guitar Hero” been? According to Rolling Stone, the series has sold over 20 million copies since the original “Guitar Hero” was released in 2006. That is the equivalent of going 20 times platinum in the scheme of record sales.

The series also seems to have the support of some of the genre’s greatest, most respected artists, so much so that Aerosmith agreed to allow a version of the game to be made that solely included their songs and songs by bands that had either influenced them or opened for them on tour. Not only was it a huge success, but it also made more money than any album they had ever released.

The beauty of what “Guitar Hero” accomplishes is multidimensional. Not only does it bring back old classics, but it’s also a new outlet for exposing the songs of newer, lesser-known artists. Rather than just listening to the songs it lets users interact with these songs, while at the same time gaining a sense of respect for the musicianship behind them. Many of its tracks have become household titles when they otherwise may have just fallen by the wayside had the music industry remained in the same state it was three years ago.

While album sales have been suffering, “Guitar Hero” allows users to purchase new songs as they are added to its online store. This means that music releases are no longer confined to the boundaries of CD releases. First were records, then tapes, CDs, MP3s and now music can be purchased in video game format. Metallica’s “Death Magnetic” marked the first time an album could be purchased in playable form on the same day as its actual CD release. Two weeks after its release, “Death Magnetic” rests at the top of the Billboard Top 200, beating out R&B and hip-hop artists Ne-Yo and Nelly, who otherwise may have claimed the top spot.

In a generation where a single by Metallica or Aerosmith would sound out of place in the top 40, sandwiched in between Miley Cyrus and Chris Brown, “Guitar Hero” is the new haven for rock, and every fan of the genre has a new hope of its revitalization thanks to the series.