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Beatles: On tour in your game console

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Steve Chiotakis: Koo Koo Ka-choo. It’s another British invasion alright, but the only tour The Beatles will be part of this time is in a box. The video game “The Beatles: Rock Band” is in stores today. It allows players to sing while playing on instruments modeled after the ones played by the Fab Four. The game was developed by Harmonix and published by Viacom’s MTV Games.

Joining us to talk about what kind of business sense this all makes is Rob Levine, executive editor of Billboard Magazine. Good morning to you, sir.

Rob Levine: Good morning to you, too.

Chiotakis: What kind of money are we talking about, Rob?

Levine: I’ve seen some predictions that this will sell five million copies between now and the end of the year. You know, some of those copies go for $60, some of them go for up to $250, depending on what edition of the game you buy. Rock Band as a franchise, as a business, the various editions together, has made way over a billion dollars so far. Now, it’ll probably make another billion just this calendar year.

Chiotakis: Talk a little bit about the, you know, the transaction and what took place. We’re not just talking about publishing rights, we’re talking about likenesses and photos and films and personal stories and all of that. I mean that sounds like an expansive business models right there.

Levine: There’s a story in the LA Times that says that MTV could pay the Beatles as much as $40 million. But that’s only if that game hits certain benchmarks. And believe me, if this games hits those benchmarks, everybody’s gonna be getting rich. One thing you see with the Beatles, they tend to pursue big deals that are expensive, but everyone tends to do well over awhile. If you look at the Love show in Las Vegas, the partnership between the Beatles and Cirque Du Soleil, that was very expensive, roughly sort of similar. But look at that show now, it’s been going for a few years already. I was in Vegas a few months ago, and it was sold out on the early show on a weeknight during a pretty bad recession. What you see is the deals tend to pay off. Same thing with the “Across The Universe” movie.

Chiotakis: How does this game change the video game industry, Rob?

Levine: One of the things the video game business really wants to do is to sell consoles. So let’s say I’m a big Beatles fan, I absolutely have to have this. I might go out, spend $300 on an XBox or a Playstation 3 or a Beatles game. Well, what’s gonna happen? I only have one game, I’m gonna want a few other games. That’s the real win for the video game business.

Chiotakis: Rob Levine, the executive editor of Billboard Magazine. Thanks for joining us this morning.

Levine: Thank you very much.

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