Games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero III have proved their ability to breathe new life into classic rock sales.

But can they do the same for new music? Last month, Motley Crue decided to find out.

The band placed its new single, the title track from “Saints of Los Angeles,” for sale as a downloadable track on Rock Band well in advance of the album’s release date, which has been pushed back to June 24. According to data provided by the band’s management, Tenth Street Entertainment, the track was downloaded more than 47,000 times via the Xbox 360 version of the game alone in the first week after it became available. (Rock Band publisher MTV Networks was unable to independently verify these figures, and total downloads that include the PlayStation 3 version of the game were not available.)

By comparison, the same track received slightly more than 10,000 downloads via digital services like iTunes and Amazon, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That’s a pretty big discrepancy considering that music bought via Rock Band can't be transferred to a portable music player or even a computer for later enjoyment. It can be played only via the game.

Tenth Street CEO Allen Kovac shrugs off the gap in sales between formats, pointing out that a sale is a sale. In an age of rampant piracy, reaching fans where they are willing to spend money is the primary goal.

“We do research on every artist we have, and the research said that the people who bought Motley Crue music and tickets play Rock Band and video games ... (so) it was our inclination to go there,” he says.

“The resurgence of rock has happened because of Rock Band and Guitar Hero,” Kovac says. “And the reason is because of the interaction with the audience. The more music marketing people look at interaction with the audience as opposed to only radio or a video, the more lasting the experience will be and the longer the artists’ career will be.”

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