Are Musicians Getting The Shaft From Guitar Hero?

guitar_hero_shaft.jpgThere's no denying that Activision, Red Octane and Harmonix have been making money hand over fist with stellar sales of the Guitar Hero franchise. All involved are thrilled to have taken part in this very successful venture, right? Wrong. The little people, the studio musicians responsible for Guitar Hero's cover versions, are crying foul, unable to take part in the high-class hooker and champagne parties that assuredly everyone from QA tester to producer to CEO are enjoying on a regular basis. They've been financially "left in the dust" writes free paper Metro and may be the forgotten, abused cogs in the new "creative sweatshop" machine.

The paper makes the argument that Wavegroup Sound and the studio musicians they contract for remakes are getting the short end of the stick. How short? Some musicians are only being compensated $US 100 to $US 150 an hour to lend their skills to recreate the music of others. The hell? I thought a musician's career was more stable and financially rewarding than this!

To add insult to injury, Metro writes that other contributors have been receiving "ceiling-high stacks of cash" while studio musicians, who have "supplied the major portion of what makes the game series so enjoyable" are left in the cold with sore throats and pockets turned out. (Editor's note: can someone at Harmonix, Red Octane or Activision please forward us pics of your cash stack?) I'm fairly certain the argument can be made that there were dozens of programmers, engineers, artists and production staffers supplying the major portion of what makes Guitar Hero so enjoyable, but it's certainly less fun in black and white terms.

Metro proposes a fairer profiting system, including residuals for contributing artists and musician unions. Potential union members may want to go in with one fact corrected, though, as the video game industry does not bring in more cash than the music and movie industries combined, as Metro concludes. That sort of misinformation might not help the sing-a-likes at the bargaining table.

Sweatshop Silicon Valley [MetroActive - thanks, Adriel!]


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