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Sony Bundles PS2 Game <I>Amplitude</I> With Album

10 Oct, 2003 By: Erik Gruenwedel

On the surface, Sony Computer Entertainment America's announcement that it will bundle for the first time a PlayStation 2 video game with the release of a competitor's music CD appears shortsighted.

Atlantic Records' Nov. 4 release of Payable on Death from P.O.D., the fifth album from the Warner Music Group's hard-rock act, will include a customized edition of the video game Amplitude.

The two-disc set retails for $19.98 and features the non-album P.O.D. song “Space” that players can custom re-mix on a PS2.

The bonus disc features a behind-the-scenes documentary and commentary by Daniel Martin Diaz, who created the album's cover art.

Entering the final quarter of the fiscal year, Sony Music Distribution had 13.9 percent of total U.S. album market share and 13 percent of current-album market share, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Both figures rank Sony fourth among the five major record labels, compared to third during the same period last year.

“Maybe Warner Bros. was actually offering to pay [PS2] a lot more than [Sony Music Corp.] ever would,” said a source familiar with both companies.

A Sony Music spokesperson wouldn't comment on any financial arrangement and said the label's exclusion wasn't unusual.

“We don't always get the soundtrack to every Sony film,” said Keith McCarthy. “We might get the first right to go for a film, but a lot of times … it's not just purely a financial reason, it can be a creative situation.”

PS2 spokesperson Ryan Bowling said the company works with labels regardless of their corporate lineage, adding that P.O.D. approached them with the idea of bundling Amplitude with the new album after hearing a song from a previous album on the game.

“We're always looking for new [business] avenues,” Bowling said. “This is an interesting and unique opportunity for both parties.”

PS2, which has been a corporate sponsor to several music events -- including OzzFest, the Voodoo Music Festival in New Orleans through Oct. 31 and the PS2 Dual Play tour through Nov. 15 -- wouldn't confirm the existence of future bundling with other acts.

“Music soundtracks have been a big part of our business since we started,” Bowling said. “What we can promise is that the relationship between the music and game industries is continuing to grow. I think we complement each other well.”

Leveraging a Platform
The collaboration between games and music comes at a time when parent Sony Corp. last week unveiled a bundled edition of the PS2 at a trade show in Japan. Called the PSX, the device, which will sell for $719 in Japan, includes the PS2, a TV tuner, a DVD recorder and a hard-disk drive. Pricing and launch times in the United States and Europe remain pending.

“I think it's a good sign of creative thinking that both of those industries could use with record [sales] in decline and games about to go into one of its traditional mid-platform launch meltdowns,” said Tom Adams, president of Adams Media Research in Carmel, Calif.

With Sony planning next year to release the PSP, a portable game player that plays CD and DVD, and speculation about a possible PS3, Adams said Sony will do anything to avoid revenue shrinkage in both hardware and software sales.

“Whatever you can do to value-add games at this point is a positive thing,” Adams said. “That will expand the universal world of PlayStation owners. I think a lot more people will jump aboard because [the PSX] has more capabilities than just playing games.

“I think it's an interesting idea especially for the music industry, which needs to get packaged and online revenue up,” he said.

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