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The Beatles Sing On Rock Band

Big news this morning for the music and video game publishing industries. The Beatles have agreed to license their songs to MTV Network's Rock Band video game series, the Viacom unit that is battling rival Activision Blizzard, Inc., for supremacy in this lucrative niche of the media market.

The Beatles, which have the best-selling album catalog of ny band in history, thus join Aerosmith, Metallica, AC/DC, and several others to embrace this major new channel for monetizing their musical archives. Moreover, this represents an exclusive for Rock Band, at least for now, because The Beatles have not yet licensed any of their music for downloads by services such as the iTunes Store.

Rock Band (and its competitor Guitar Hero) let players use consoles, shaped like guitars and other instruments, to simulate playing popular songs. Gamers "win" by hitting the most notes accurately. The music and dance games, and the download services represent a fast-growing segment that is helping the music industry offset the long-term decline in its physical product sales.

Is there a lesson here for newspapers, magazines, books, and other physical media product industries. To quote a certain Vice-Presidential candidate, "You betcha!"

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