Music is cheaper than ever before in the digital age, but we still don't want to buy it in the same quantities. Music retailer EMI has taken an unusual approach to trying to sell more music, launching an HTML5-based game where you have to identify performers to stop flying chickens coming to earth to steal all the music (I am NOT making this up). Your reward for success? Discounts if you decide to buy any of the tracks featured in the game.
Way Out Wars was demonstrated at Microsoft's local IE9 launch this morning, and the site went live today. Once you've battled the chickens, you'll get a discount of between 10% and 40% on tracks you identified during the game (though only if EMI owns the rights — its In The Song site sells material from multiple labels, but the discounts don't apply on non-EMI tracks). Most tracks are priced at $2.09, so the discount helps a little, though it doesn't offset occasional tracks which sell for more ludicrous prices like $4.17. Currently, around 500 tracks are featured.
I'm not sure how successful this will be, especially given that the game is a little buggy and managed to crash my PC after a Flash-like overheat on one occasion. But it's an interesting exemplar of what EMI executive Roddy Campbell explained is the new reality for labels: it's easier to sell direct to consumer than work through retailers: "In Australia, we've evolved from a wholesaler of music to a retailer. The market wasn't growing enough. And it's been a really successful formula for us. This is a tool that will help our direct retailing efforts."
Does the thought of battling HTML5 space chickens put you in the mood for buying music? Tell us in the comments.