March 15, 2010
Posted: 03:24 PM ET
Matt Drenik, frontman for hard-rock band Lions, has an easy formula for worldwide exposure - meet an employee from a video game company, then get him drunk.
"We had a showcase here three years ago. He came and drank beer with us until 5 a.m.," said Drenik during a panel Monday at the South by Southwest Interactive conference. "Next thing we know, we have a contract to be on Guitar Hero III."
Having their song, "Metal Heavy Lady," on a game that has sold 13 million copies worldwide couldn't have come at a better time for the Austin, Texas-based rockers, who had recently been dropped from their record label.
It's part of a years-long effort by bands looking for ways to gain exposure at a time when mainstream radio stations have moved largely to safe, structured formats that don't leave much room for independent artists.
"It's very challenging now for certain bands like mine and others who are heavier riff-rock bands to kind of break out," he said. "Everybody knows the U.S. modern rock radio is pretty bad. They don't really spin a lot of good innovative bands anymore."
Lions was the only independent band on a game that featured the likes of Slash, from Guns 'n' Roses, and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine.
Doug McCracken, of “Guitar Hero” creators Activision, said the obvious approach would be to try to pack games like his and rival “Rock Band” with “only artists that have sold X-number of records.”
But including an indie band, along with groups like a reunited Sex Pistols and death-rock icons Slayer, benefits the product by expanding its base, he said.
“From our perspective, we have a range of music so we can appeal to a bunch of different types of people,” McCracken said. We love that it adds to … the authenticity and credibility for our brands and also helps the artist.”
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