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Educational Feature: ‘Games That Launched the Band’

Educational Feature: ‘Games That Launched the Band’

March 4, 2008 | By Jill Duffy

Steve Schnur is a music executive at Electronic Arts. He sees video games as being an integral part of the success of musical performers.

In a new feature interview on, Schnur talks about how the audio and recording industry has embraced games, and why those who haven't are suffering.

In this excerpt, he shares his moment of realization about the importance of interactive media for musicians:

"Steve Schnur: I became part of the original programming team at MTV as a college intern, and the experience taught me more than I ever learned at NYU. In fact, much of what I absorbed at MTV remains with me to this day.

I distinctly remember attending a focus group there in which a 15-year old was asked about videos compared to songs on the radio. His comment back was, 'A song only becomes real to me when I see it.'

I still think about the implications of that kid's statement. You should, too. Since MTV first appeared in 1981, an entire generation has been raised with an expectation of visuals attached to audio. We are continuing a trend already in motion for more than 25 years, a trend already indelibly ingrained in future generations, generations raised on video games as a major entertainment source in their lives, generations raised on discovering music through these games.

For this generation, the song now becomes real when they 'play it.'

After MTV, I went on to more than two decades in radio promotion, audio and recording, marketing, and as a music supervisor for movies. ... But over the years, I began to sense a growing cultural shift that would lead me away from the traditional record business to where I am today.

The most important lesson I've learned in 20 years is that the record business and the music industry are two distinctly different entities. And the most essential fact I know is that these last seven years at EA have been the most creatively rewarding of my entire career.

GCG: What is the difference between the record business and the music industry?

SS: Beginning in the mid to late 1990s, the record business fatefully chose short-term payoffs instead of long-term vision. They chased and milked trends rather than investing in creating them. They continued to believe that retail album sales were the only income that mattered. They allowed cookie-cutter radio play lists to fragment and sanitize the market. They ignored -- and often fought -- new media and digital technologies.

When P2P file sharing appeared, total control suddenly belonged not to the record industry, but to the true music fans. And by using this digital technology, true music fans -- otherwise known as the consumers -- took it upon themselves to transform the industry like never before. Mergers and ownership by non-entertainment multinationals took care of the rest. When the smoke cleared, the traditional record business as we had known it was officially dead."

To read the complete interview, including Schnur's tips for aspiring game audio engineers and executives, visit

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