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Music/Rhythm Games Boost Real-Life Instrument Sales

by Rainier on Nov. 25, 2008 @ 9:06 a.m. PST

Music instrument retailer Guitar Center announced the findings of a national survey linking games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band to dramatic increases in the gamers' interest to own and play real instruments, but also that most musicians who play the games use their real instruments more frequently as a result.

Guitar Center, the world’s largest retailer of musical instruments, announced the findings of a national survey linking the popular video games Guitar Hero and Rock Band to dramatic increases in the gamers’ interest to own and play real instruments. Not only did the survey confirm that the majority of those who play the games are more interested in picking up real instruments, it also revealed that most musicians who play the games use their real instruments more frequently as a result.

Among the survey’s specific findings:

  • Of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band players that do not currently play a musical instrument, two-thirds (67%) indicated that they are likely to begin playing a real instrument in the next two years.
  • Nearly three out of four (72%) musicians who play games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band have spent more time playing their real instrument(s) since they began playing these games.
  • Eight out of 10 (81%) of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band players that have been inspired to play an instrument because of the games would like to receive a musical instrument as a gift this winter holiday season.
  • Sales of gear for first-timers at Guitar Center has surged along with the peak in sales for Guitar Hero and Rock Band. In the holiday selling season in the last quarter of 2007, Guitar Center saw a +20.7% jump in comparable store sales for beginner-level electric guitar & amplifiers. This surge grew even stronger through the first nine months of 2008, when Guitar Center's cumulative comparable store sales for the category increased +26.9%.

“This spike of interest in playing actual instruments stemming from a video game is an unprecedented phenomenon,” explained Guitar Center’s Executive Vice President / Chief Marketing Officer Norman Hajjar. “Most video games sell fantasy, but Guitar Hero and Rock Band are selling a dream that can be realized. These games plant an achievable goal in the heart of the player and that, in turn, drives our business.”

Guitar Center has long been an advocate of music-related gaming. The retailer has been featured prominently as a virtual music store integrated into the actual game since Guitar Hero II, and has carried the physical product on store shelves since winter 2007.

And it’s not just commercial retailers sensing this trend. As the popularity of video games grow, academics are also seeing the value in games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band as it relates to spawning a desire in people to play actual music.

“These games are a painless and fantastically seductive entr√©e to playing music,” said Dr. Larry Livingston, Music Director of the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California. “They engage your mind, body and soul, creating a whole sense of the movement of music. Having tasted the experience, players may want to move from the simulated to the real. Therefore, it’s no surprise that these games have whetted the appetite for the real deal.”

Living, breathing rock stars and guitar heroes, such as Slash from the legendary rock band Guns & Roses, also see the value of these games to potential musicians. When asked what he felt about Guitar Hero and Rock Band, Slash responded:

“At first I was apprehensive…but anything that exposes people to music new or old is a positive thing. Then I came to find out that a lot of the kids who are playing these video games aspire to pick up a real guitar which, I think, is a bonus.”

To aid in the quest to convert gamers to musicians, Guitar Center has created the "Real Guitar" campaign. The centerpiece is the Real Guitar website with a selection of offbeat holiday e-cards for Guitar Hero/Rock Band gamers to send to loved ones, altering them to their desire for a gift of a real guitar this year.

The data for the Guitar Hero/Rock Band Study was gathered from 7,061 respondents who participated in an electronic survey issued to two separate consumer panels. Of the respondents surveyed 3,300, came from gamers belonging to the LightSpeed consumer panel, an online survey company that allows consumers to offer their opinions on various products and services. The remainder of respondents (both gamers and non-gamers) came from Guitar Center’s proprietary consumer panel. Responses were collected from teenagers age 13 and above as well as adults of all ages.

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