After fulfilling his contract as a New Jersey-based talent buyer/promoter for Live Nation and waiting out his noncompete, Bamboozle festival founder John D'Esposito has re-emerged with what he believes is a new revenue stream for artists: mobile gaming. He has launched GameChanger World, an artist-driven platform developer based in Freehold, N.J., as a joint venture between D'Esposito's Max Cruise Entertainment and Storm City Games.
GameChanger Labs, the company's development arm, sifts through gamer apps and finds cool, under-the-radar titles, then enlists artists as creative partners, creates mobile games with band members as characters and puts the games on the artists' social sites and GameChanger.com's mobile gaming "boardwalk." The games are free and fans pay $0.99-$1.29 through in-game micro-transactions to advance and compete with other users. Each act contributes a minimum of 300 prizes (such as CDs, merch and tickets) to the pool, and revenue is split between the artists and GameChanger. Live events like the Skate & Surf Festival launch party, set for May 18-19 in Freehold, will offer bands the chance to play fans.
All the variables in launching any new concept notwithstanding, GameChanger seems to be positioned to tap into a credible revenue stream for both developing bands and a music industry that desperately needs new forms of income. Touring is saturated at the club level, holds at prime rooms are six deep in some cases, and touring is a narrow-margin business. Today's fans demand interaction with their bands, and mobile gaming is a way for them to engage fans 24/7.
Esposito was hoping for 20 bands initially but now has 50, with a "line to get in the door. The bands have absolutely taken over. They know more about it than we do."
Mobile gaming is a multibillion-dollar business and "none of that is coming into the music industry," D'Esposito says. "This is a revenue stream without so many hands in [bands'] pockets. Right now they say the average kid spends between $3 and $5 in the average game he downloads. How much will the kid spend when he actually can play his favorite band?"
The prototypical GameChanger band--of which there are hundreds--would tour constantly, have an active social presence and be on a small indie label or unsigned. The fan base is right in the mobile gaming community, in which there are millions of users.
For GameChanger to gain traction, the bands must be engaged, the games have to be great--even addictive--and they have to be put in front of gamers.