Thursday, November 5, 2009

Complete Control

Here are two kind of ska-related items from the All Music Guide News Roundup blog (via Rolling Stone):
The surviving members of Sublime — Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh — have been ordered by a California court to stop using the band’s name. Wilson and Gaugh recently performed at the SmokeOut Festival with 21 year-old Rome Ramirez, who replaced the departed frontman Brad Nowell. According to festival footage, the group sounded a lot like Sublime. According to the judge’s ruling, however, Sublime ended with Nowell’s death 13 years ago.
In other legal news, No Doubt is suing Activision, maker of the popular videogame Band Hero. The reason? Gamers can use No Doubt’s avatars at any point during gameplay, regardless of the music being replicated onscreen. In a lawsuit filed today against Activision, No Doubt argues that such a breach of contract turns the band into “a virtual karaoke circus act.”
A few Duff Guide to Ska observations:

Everyone knows that Brad overdosed and is dead, so no one is going to be somehow tricked into thinking that they are buying a ticket to see the original and complete Sublime. If his band mates want to revive the name and music, his estate should loosen up and permit use of the Sublime name--but still earn a cut from all of the gigs, merchandise, etc. that is generated by the continuing Sublime members (and donate the proceeds to drug rehab groups, if they want some good to come out of this). Essentially, give the people what they want: nostalgia (it sells well).

In No Doubt's case--and I'm assuming that they are making a substantial amount of money by lending their avatars to Activision's game--the band covers other people's material (Talk Talk's "It's My Life," for example), so what is the big deal if their avatars do it? (Isn't this just kind of "extending the brand" with gamers and even kind of fun/humorous to have "Gwen Stefani" "sing" a Metallica or Bon Jovi track?) Yes, Activision absolutely should have been completely upfront about how they were going to use the band's images--common sense would dictate this--and No Doubt should be upset about that, but maybe they should have tried to just re-negotiate the deal (i.e.: demand even more money), but not make a huge, public stink about it that makes them appear to be a bit like spoiled rock stars (and I'm categorially not stating that they are...)? Fans love it when stars don't take themselves too seriously.

Money sure does ruin everything, don't it?


Kames Jelly said...

there was something similar to the no doubt thing with nirvana. they were upset that kurt cobain could be used to as a regular unlockable character to play any song you wanted. i dont remember the exact details, but i think it was the same idea as no doubt. i think the whole thing is stupid. its a video game, get over it.

Steve from Moon said...

Yes, the Kurt Cobain issue is the same as No Doubt's. In both cases, it's weird that the game makers didn't preview the product with the bands/their reps before releasing it to the public. It would have saved everybody a lot of grief. (But having said that, look at all the free publicity the game and the bands have will only end up selling more copies!)