Walk into the MTV store adjacent to the network's Times Square headquarters, and you'll get an immediate sense of what's most important to the venerable music brand these days: "Rock Band 2."

There's the game system itself, related accessories, AC/DC merchandise-part of a partnership that gave "Rock Band" exclusive game rights to one of the band's live DVDs-even a demo area where customers can try out the game. In fact, the entire front half of the store is dedicated to "Rock Band 2."

And with good reason: the "Rock Band" franchise is on one hell of a roll. The original and the recently released sequel have sold close to 5 million units combined this year, according to the NPD Group. Consumers have bought and downloaded more than 26 million new songs for the franchise. And MTV just announced an exclusive deal with the Beatles to develop a game that will be released in time for the 2009 holiday season.

Within MTV, the "Rock Band" buck stops with the unassuming Paul DeGooyer. When he's not busy finalizing licensing deals for new music or demonstrating the game for music industry executives, DeGooyer strategizes about where the success of the "Rock Band" franchise can take MTV-and the music industry as a whole.

Sipping tea in a dimly lit office, clad in an untucked dress shirt and blue sneakers, DeGooyer shared his thoughts about music gaming with Billboard.

People always say that MTV doesn't really play music anymore. How does "Rock Band" address that?

Music has migrated to become somewhat of a lifestyle accessory for many and that may have been reflected on our channel, as people were acquiring music on the Web for free. "Rock Band" is a bit of an antidote to that, and for our channels it's a great adjunct, because even if you buy your music legitimately and listen to it on your iPod, chances are you're not sharing it with people. The whole communal sitting and listening to music thing is now confined to concert experiences, which cost a lot of money. So for MTV to be involved with bringing that back into people's living rooms is fantastic.

Some acts are featured in "Rock Band" as downloadable songs. Others, like AC/DC, get their own disc, and still others, like the Beatles, get their own game. How do you decide which artist gets what treatment?

Click here for the full story, including DeGooyer's thoughts on how 'Rock Band' fits into an album release strategy, the integration we can expect between 'Rock Band' and Rhapsody, and more.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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