Guitar Hero/Rock Band Survey: An Industry Divided
Could there be more differences of opinion? Apparently not. Are the simulated music games “a gift,” as John Spinelli or Seminole Music & Sound thinks? And as Jeff Firestone of Keene, N.H. asks rhetorically: “How can this be bad?”
Or, as Spike Klein of The Magic Flute so eloquently put it: “[The games] are like Dungeon & Dragons meets air guitar in Loser Land.”
MMR asked MI retailers for their opinions of the video games that simulate music making and the affects – if any – they’re having on creating real music makers. The response was overwhelming. More people participated in this survey than any other in recent memory.
“The truth is that to be a ‘real’ Guitar Hero, it will take a very long time, lots of discipline, and practice, practice, practice!”
Have you, yourself, played Guitar Hero or Rock Band?
Some MI manufacturers have created related MI products for this audience. Are you stocking these in your store?
Do you stock these games in your stores?
Have you held an in store event involving one or both of these games?
MI Retailers Sound off on the Games
Not surprisingly, there are as many opinions about the success of the music simulator games as there are MI retailers. Here are just a few of the comments we received from our survey:
“I love it!”
Music Go Round
“I’m too old. And at the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I am a little skeptical of the whole Guitar Hero deal. While I am very aware that they are immensely popular with the younger generation, I am not sure they are driving wannabes into my store. The truth is that to be a “real” Guitar Hero, it will take a very long time, lots of discipline, and practice, practice, practice! I may be missing something but I just can’t get that excited about Guitar Hero.
Ray’s Mid-Bell Music
Sioux City, Iowa
“My daughter, a good violin player, bought Rock Band three months ago. Our whole family is hooked and we sometimes stay up to the late hours playing. Also, we have X-Box live and play with a few regulars on a daily basis. Never thought I’d like such a game. But I have to admit, it’s cool.”
Pedersen’s Band & Orchestra
“I personally have Guitar Hero I, II, and III. Very enjoyable!
“Our Guitar Hero III competition sponsored by NAMM’s Wanna Play Campaign was a success! It was a month long competition with about 75 entrants. About 30 percent of players had never been in the store, and had heard about the competition through word of mouth, or our advertising in video game stores.
“Being a part of this industry for so long, we sometimes forget what it’s like to not be a musician. The kids that play Guitar Hero and Rock Band are smart kids that have just never been exposed to anything musical until these games. Some of them had no interest in playing an instrument at all until these games. I certainly don’t feel that playing Guitar Hero is a prelude to a great musical career, but I think it’s a great step towards helping kids realize it is possible and fun to make music! On the flipside, our Guitar Hero competition brought a few kids that are very good Guitar Hero players, but are totally resistant to playing a real guitar … but they came in, and they brought their parents, siblings, and friends with them. So, when little sister wants to play a flute in school, she’ll go, ‘Hey! I know where a music store is!’”
Arthur’s Music Store
“We want nothing to do with them. They run counter to everything we’re trying to do.”
Black Mountain, N.C.
“It’s the best. We have Guitar Hero in the store for kids and parents to play.”
Clifford F. Lake III
American Guitar & Band
Maple Grove, Minn.
“I’m not into video games. I would rather spend my time studying music or playing the real thing.
“But this is just one more attempt to find the ‘shortcut’ to getting people interested in making music. Why not try something revolutionary like using… let’s see… I’ve got it! An instrument. Let’s work with students and help them understand that this is a truly wonderful life-long endeavor and that there really are no shortcuts. Let’s educate people to understand and respect those that have invested the time to learn and value good, honest, true hard work. Guitar Hero is probably a fine video game, but like most video games, they’re a waste of time.
“Let’s spend time reading a book or, better yet, spend time studying how to play an instrument!”
Have you seen an increase in interest/sales that you can directly attribute to the game(s)?
What’s your overall opinion of the game(s)?
“I had to play – owing to my teenage children. But if my kids spent half the time playing an instrument that they did playing games, they might actually learn to play music, instead of being wannabes!”
Zepp Country Music
“Rock Band has been plugged into our 46-inch LCD TV in the living room for about two months now and I haven’t touched it one time. I would rather spend my time playing real instruments. The kids play it from time to time with no more interest in learning to play a real instrument than before.
“How about putting that money, time, and effort into programs that help beginners start a real band with real instruments and put the focus on the independent dealer rather than more big box retailers?”
Ken Stanton Music
“I don’t hate the games as much as I used to. Some kids actually want to learn how to actually play an instrument rather than pushing colored buttons.
“What the Industry needs is for popular music that will make kids want to play live music. While the biggest musical sensation is ‘American Idol,’ kids aren’t too inspired to want to play. From Elvis to grunge, popular music excited young people to want to be in bands. Not so much any more.”
Encore Music Center
What’s your overall opinion of the manufacturer’s creating products related to it or for it?
“It’s a great game and a fun way to unwind. I think it can have a positive effect on the MI. I actually have made a few new students from these games who are looking to learn the real instruments.”
Long Island Drum Center
“It’s a fun game, and has brought new beginners to our store, but it can be deceiving to young players. It can make them think playing the guitar will be easy!
“My son gets excited about learning the songs from the game on ‘real’ guitar, now they are cool, not just Dad’s old music.”
Strings Attached Music
West Plains, Mo.
“It’s fun, but not a replacement for the real thing.”
Main Street Music
“Personally, no, I haven’t played them. However my store sponsored a Guitar Hero contest spanning 13 weeks with a big finale. It is a great traffic builder and generates synergy within our company.”
Playground Music Center
Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
“We have both Rock Band and Guitar Hero set up in our stores.”
“I have played Guitar Hero 3 several times and I think it is a great learning tool for younger plays that want to get into the guitar.”
Mojo Music Discount
“Starting younger kids out on something like this, having fun with it, is a great way to get them into playing a musical instrument.”
Jeff’s Music Shop
“Instant gratification. It seems so obvious. It has been a very good segue into the lesson program.”
“Guitar Hero sounds like a fun game for guitar geeks and wannabes. I don’t see it impacting our business much but the old codger in me can’t help but be self-righteously amused. It’s like Dungeon & Dragons meets air guitar in Looser Land. Don’t call it musicianship. Don’t call those things guitars. They’re just joysticks, nothing more.
“It’s possible that my opinion would change if I played either of these games, but I’m a musician. I spend my free time on my drums!”
The Magic Flute
San Rafael, Calif.
“It builds more visual acuity/motor coordination than actual musical proficiency.”
Virginia Beach, Va.
“We see several sides of the issue. We have had several students come in and want to take lessons because of Guitar Hero. There is a shortage of iconic guitarists today and Guitar Hero has exposed people to guitar greats.
“Problem: Everyone thinks that they should be able to play like they do on the game. ‘Practice’ is a four-letter word. We rely on great teachers to bring the excitement to the students!”
Fort Worth, Texas
“It’s good because it’s exposing kids to great classic rock, and creating interest in music making.”
Fretz Music Center
“It’s fun, and I like the selection of ‘real’ music they include.”
Sides Family Music Center
State College, Pa.
“I think this is great for music as a whole. This is why we do what we do, for the music. It’s not about us.
“If a game can encourage kids and adults to think about playing music then I’m for it. Also look how many marketing dollars are spent on a couple of games that put the words Guitar Hero and Rock Band in the title. This is a gift if you ask me. And don’t be surprised when the day comes that the question is asked, ‘How did you get started playing guitar?’ And the words ‘Guitar Hero’ comes out of the next ‘real life’ guitar hero’s mouth. My advice is, don’t fight it – but you don’t have to embrace it. It’s just a game to some and could be an inspiration to others.
Seminole Music & Sound
“It’s a fad that’s not really going to create music makers.”
New Versailles, Pa.
“How can this be bad?”
“These products are toy-based. They do not develop new musicians and distract manufacturers from developing ‘useful’ products attractive to musicians.”
“We’ve stocked the book, but the game’s easy compared to the book, which is hard. In order for the concept to drive new business the in-store product may need to be easier to allow customers to gain confidence in their new found abilities sooner.”
Nick Rail Music
Santa Barbara, Calif.
“I have seen an up tick of about five percent in music lessons that I can directly attribute to these games. However, many of these new students drop out rather quickly when they realize that playing the actual instrument is quite a bit more demanding of time and effort, as opposed to a glorified joystick.”
“It has the potential to increase receipts, so you may as well make hay while the sun shines!”
Virginia Beach, Va.
“Like anything which is ‘lightning in a bottle,’ this opportunity has the potential to do really good things for our industry. However, just like any previous opportunity, manufactures and retailers who don’t destroy the idea for a short-term gain will only realize the benefits. Whatever promotion or sponsorship you do has to be planned out to be beneficial for the long-term development of customers and musicians. Nothing wrecks a great idea faster than shortsighted exploitation.”
Funky Munky Music
“I don’t believe that shoe sales went up for athletic stores because of Madden Football. This is a game and does not mean that these kids will continue or even try a musical instrument. But if we can increase sales because of it I am all for it.”
Ellman’s Music Center
“Students who play Guitar Hero a lot have a hard time taking lessons.”
Perkins Music House
“If the ‘new’ music makers go to Sam’s Club to get their first guitar, we will lose more people than we will gain.”
Hanson Pro Music
Port Huron, Mich.
“This trend is following the Tony Hawk model of years ago. The game at first distracts from the real thing, but a weird symbiosis eventually develops.”
Fort Wayne, Ind.
“I have seen people doing it and I thought it was kinda silly.
“The few people that have made it into my music shop after spending time with the game were put off by the fact they could not play a real guitar in 10 minutes or less. I could spend quite a bit of time with the game Grand Theft Auto, but really, it takes time to be a good criminal.”