EA portal has music for sale

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Electronic Arts has begun selling video game music -- everything from orchestral themes, scores and songs to exclusive mixes from popular artists like Snoop Dogg and Chamillionare -- through a new Web site portal and iTunes.

Steve Schnur, worldwide executive of music and marketing at Electronic Arts, was to unveil the music initiative today at the Billboard Music and Money Conference in New York.

A large portion of the EA Trax music catalog, which includes music from hit games like "Medal of Honor" and "The Sims" to the sounds of "Madden NFL 07" to the beats of "Command & Conquer," will be available for purchase from the EA Music Store at www.ea.com/eatrax.

Gamers will be able to buy this open-source collection (the rights to which are owned by EA) and listen to the music on their PCs, MP3 players or cell phones. The list of music will continue to expand, both with backward catalog content and as new games are released.

Also through the Web site, EA also is offering a large playlist of exclusive mixes, nonalbum cuts and previously unavailable international tracks for sale on iTunes.com.

Here, gamers will be able to purchase such songs as Snoop Dogg's remix of the Doors' "Riders on the Storm" from "Need for Speed Underground 2"; Lily Allen's song "Smile" in Simlish from "The Sims 2: Seasons"; Paul Oakenfold's exclusive song "Beautiful Goal" from "FIFA 07"; Spider Loc's exclusive remix of "When I Get Angry" from "Madden NFL 06"; Chamillionare's exclusive remix of "Grind Time" from "NBA Live 06"; and NFL Films music remixes.

The deal begins with North America but will soon expand to iTunes in about 17 other countries.

"We've listened to gamers who we have always felt were at the edge of technology," Schnur said in an interview. "People who play our games are the digital generation. Mobility is key. This allows them to buy ringtones and open-source music through that one portion of EA.com. It's a matter of media convergence."

Schnur noted that new songs will be available day and date when games ship, often even earlier. "Junkie XL, the artist who created the soundtrack for the Wii game 'SSX Blur,' was front page of iTunes before the game was even released (this week)," he said.

Schnur said that EA videogame manuals and EA.com -- which receives 14 million unique U.S. and international visitors a month -- will steer gamers to the music site. So will EA-owned casual game site Pogo.com, which gets another 11 million unique visitors a month.

Schnur said this deal is good for artists too. It's hard to get on the front page of iTunes, but a small band could get exposure on EA.com/eatrax, where it could sit next to the Green Days and Fall Out Boys and everyone else EA has worked with.

Since 2001, EA Trax has helped break emerging bands and has brought established superstars to new audiences. EA games have helped launch the careers of such artists as Good Charlotte, Jet, Franz Ferdinand, Scissor Sisters, Arctic Monkeys and Fabolous.

Schnur said the next leap, which he hopes will come within a year, will be for gamers to be able to download their own songs into games and have it become a part of that world, just like the cheering crowd in a "Madden" game.

"This is a big step toward the console being the center of your living room," Schnur said. "We want to ensure that when that does, musically speaking, it's not as silly as laying a song on top of a game. Until we can achieve that, we can't guarantee consumer satisfaction."
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