01:22 AM
Michael Singer
Michael Singer

Lego, Rock Band Building Up Business

I can shred to "Detroit Rock City" and my cowbell is perfect on "Don't Fear The Reaper," but soon I'll have to learn new licks -- make that bricks -- now that Lego's getting onstage too.

I can shred to "Detroit Rock City" and my cowbell is perfect on "Don't Fear The Reaper," but soon I'll have to learn new licks -- make that bricks -- now that Lego's getting onstage too.

Lego Rock Band
(click image for larger view)
Lego Rock Band

The massively popular "Rock Band" franchise is getting a hand from an equally successful video game and toy group. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and TT Games this week said they are joining forces with the Lego Group, Harmonix, and MTV Games to merge the two formats. Lego's clicks meet Rock Band's chicks. The first battle of the brick bands is scheduled for holiday season 2009 on Xbox, PlayStation 3, Wii, and eventually on Nintendo DS.

Bundled songs include Blur's "Song 2," "Kung Fu Fighting" by Carl Douglas, "Boys and Girls" as played by Good Charlotte, and "So What," by Pink.

"Players will be able to create their own Lego Rock Band style as they customize their minifigure avatars, band and entourage, including roadies, managers and crew," the companies said in their release. The game will support not only Rock Band-compatible instruments but other music game controllers as well.

Sounds like a nice little package for the kids, but the mashup story gets even more interesting when you take into consideration that the two products complement each other.

Lego, the quintessential children's toy, has had a string of success with its interactive video game series. The company has been tapping into new generations of gamers (and their nostalgic parents) with console games based on the "Star Wars," "Indiana Jones" and "Batman" characters. Gameplay primarily involves searching for building blocks, constructing contraptions, and unlocking levels.

Lego has also used its online store as a build-it-then-buy-it platform. This allows Lego fans to spend more money and time with the product. My son has several designs that could cost about $100 a pop if we ordered them.

Similarly, Rock Band has created its own direct channel marketplace complete with harder to find songs and popular tunes. Individual songs are inexpensive -- starting at $1.99 -- and packs are priced to sell, such as well-known AC/DC hits selling for $11.99.

Add in player-to-player competition as well as online stores and forums, and you have a perfect storm for developers, third-party markets, the music labels, and of course the gamers themselves.

Imagine too that some players might want to create their own songs and publish them in the Lego Rock Band marketplace for others to buy. Kind of like Apple's iTunes App store, but for music. You now have another layer of musical ecosystem with cash-making potential. As Jason Berman with the Recording Industry Association of America once said: "American music is something the rest of the world wants to listen to. Our job is to make sure they pay for it."

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