Viacom Aims to Pay Labels Less for Music Featured on Rock Band

Viacom Aims to Pay Labels Less for Music Featured on <i>Rock Band</i>
While still one of the most popular videogames of the past half-decade, not even Rock Band is impervious to declining sales stemming from market saturation and lack of music people actually want to play. It's because of this - and a company vs. company battle - that the face of your favourite all-encompassing music game might change forever.

As Billboard reports, parent company Viacom notes in its fourth-quarter earnings, released this past Thursday (February 11), that it leans on paying lower licensing rates to record labels for the use of their songs in order to keep its games division alive.

In justification, to paraphrase Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman, struggling labels are already getting a boost by having licensing at all. It provides them another source of revenue, not to mention potential increases in album/download sales and overall popularity of artists based on the fact that gamers are introduced to new bands.

However, Warner Music Group president Edgar Bronfman Jr. disagrees, having stated in the past that the licence payments are "paltry," causing an impasse between Rock Band creator/Viacom subsidiary Harmonix and Warner, with no new agreements made in almost a year.

A new move to save their game and proceed forward comes from Viacom, who now upped the dispute's ante.

In Viacom's quarterly report, Dauman says that Harmonix/Viacom is looking to pay even less for the rights to use material in order to stay afloat. If Warner and its colleagues are unwilling to find new, cheaper terms for licensing, the game creator will be forced to locate new music elsewhere, thereby eliminating the partnership altogether.

"As we go forward, we are continuing to focus more on software than hardware, looking to reduce the cost structure associated with Rock Band, being selective in the music titles that we choose for Rock Band based on their cost," Dauman writes. "The music industry will assist with this category to make sure that it can continue on a profitable basis in the future and then finally we think we have the best games in the category, we'll continue to rollout exciting products."