'Air Guitar' Takes Karaoke To New Level

Air guitar has gone high-tech, as Hollywood Records is using CD entertainment technology from MusicPlayground to bring karaoke into a whole new sphere.

Air guitar has gone high-tech, as Hollywood Records is using CD entertainment technology from MusicPlayground to bring karaoke into a whole new sphere. "The World's Greatest Air Guitar Album" is the first full-length commercial release to offer the bonus, which enables consumers to play an instrument along with 24 different anthems, including Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water," Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and Boston's "More Than a Feeling."

What makes this experience different from holding a tennis racquet while posing is MusicPlayground. Using either a computer keyboard or a separately available V-Pick "interactive guitar pick," fans can play along with what the company calls an onscreen Rhythm EKG. This display shows cues and lyrics, turning consumers into a guitarist the same way a karaoke machine would make them a vocalist.

Allen Kovac of 10th Street Entertainment, who manages such artists as Blondie, Meat Loaf and Motley Crue, thinks the technology can dissuade people from pirating music and encourage them to support their favorite artists by purchasing the genuine article.

"Music is something that the new generation of computer users have decided is free because there's no interaction," Kovac said. "With MusicPlayground, music becomes a one-on-one relationship instead of a product."

MusicPlayground president/CEO Brad Naples added that the technology also is a way to develop new revenue streams. Most obviously, links from the Web site make it easy to purchase other artist-related official products.

"They can buy the sheet music, they can buy the merchandise, they can buy the CD -- you're bringing upstream a bunch of revenue that the music industry really just lets go," Kovac agreed. "And you're doing it in a way that the young consumer is used to."

Other upcoming CDs that will include MusicPlayground technology include the Troys' "Massaging Your Ego" (Elektra) and new releases from Meat Loaf (Universal internationally, EMI in Canada) and Blondie (EMI domestically, Sony internationally).

MusicPlayground's Web site has a jukebox of songs by the Beatles, Britney Spears, Motley Crue, the Who, Madonna, Smash Mouth, No Doubt and many others -- all of which have been rerecorded by MusicPlayground's own musicians. Some tracks also are included on CDs in V-Pick and V-Stix packages.

"Consumers are demanding more value for the money they spend on their music, and artists love the idea of connecting with their fans," Naples said. "In order to survive, let alone grow, the music industry must offer value-added enhancements and features that allow consumers to enjoy the music they purchase in new and compelling ways."