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BY MICHAELENDELMAN
ILLUSTRATION BY EBOY

in the music business? An invite to i n form two songs on Siditrilay Night Not bad. A gig at The ().('.'s faux-gnmgy nick club, the Unit Shop? We're listening. A visit to TRL, followed by a cliat with a sycophantic V.I? It'll do. (Jo poll a fistful of rappers, rockers, and record execs and you'll likely get this answer: The real music-biz touchdown comes with a little thing called Madden NFL Football. Scoring a spot on the soundtrack for the Electronic Arts game is, says Bnice Flohr, head of A&R for Dave Matthews' ATO Records, "just as important 88 getting the record played on KROQ or Z100 or any big radio station. When I landed in Los Angeles from mixing the latest Dave Matthews Hand album, my first stop was |a

How Snoop, Green Day, and the music maven behind'Madden' teamed up to turn videogames into a touchdown for the music biz

pitch meeting] at EA Games."

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L I S T E N TO T H I S

15

On the receiving end of these pitches is Steve Schnur, a bright-eyed former A&R guy (Capitol, Arista, and others) with a head of spiky, thinning ham As the worldwide executive for music and audio for videogame giant E A, it is Schnur's job to place music in every single one of EA's 40-some-odd releases every year. "I left the record industry," Schnur says, "to get into the music business." Which means everything from commissioning a score from journeyman film composer Trevor Jones to slogging through literally thousands of songs for every game to find just the right pop tune to match the pixelated pyrotechnics of race-'n'-crash game Burnout or the careful joystickflippingof Tiger Woods PGA Tour. In Schnur's three years at EA, he's become a bona fide music mogul, not only transforming games into a more powerful pop-culture experience but offering musicbiz marketers an attractive option beyond the usual orbit of radio, retail, and press. IE I U5TEN T THIS O

All of which translates, according to Schnur, into "the coolest job in the world." The 800-pound gorilla of the industry, EA is the world's largest videogame company, pulling in S3 billion in revenue last year. And in its stable of cash-generating franchises—Need for Speed, NBA Live, The Sims, and many others—the 16-yearold Madden NFL series is the company's signature title, having sold more than -10 million copies since its debut in 1989 (it's still a fixture on annual best-seller lists). Thanks to Schnur, those black $50 discs now offer baby bands and veteran acts alike an effective way to generate buzz (right down to the jukebox-style features on games that allow players to see the song titles and band names). "People weren't paying much attention to game music when I started," Schnur says. "The more I researched it, the more I realized how simple it would be to bring music to where kids are." Prime recent example: Green Day's "American

Idiot" debuted on Madden NFL 200S last summer, weeks before the single hit radio or MTV; the album of the same name went on to be one of the most successful records of 2004, winning the Grammy for Best Rock Album. Instead of force-feeding a diet of tired jock-rock to the gaming audience, Schnur approaches his job like a cool-hunting adolescent, stringing together cuts by acts as diverse as Radiohead, Snoop Dogg, the Dandy Warhols, and Good Charlotte. And because he's divorced from the marketplan mentalities of radio airplay and retail jockeying, he's free to indulge his inner tastemaker: the early adopter, the first kid oil the block who knows about that band you've porra hear. "I just need one guy to remember that we had the song first," he says. "Bragging rights are the important thing. My whole motto here is that even though we're not 14, we have to think and act like we're 14." But there are challenges. Unlike picking a song for a movie, TV show, or commercial, Schnur must consider an incredibly broad demo. "Madden is the hairiest game to program," he says. "I've gotta jilease a kid who only listens to hip-hop and another who listens to metal. I've gotta find 20 songs where a kid might only love one, but think the other 19 are kinda cool." There is, in fact, a rough guideline Schnur uses when vetting the few thousand cuts for the 20-plus-track .Madden playlist. Rule No. 1: "It has to be aggressive, it has to pump up the gameplay, it has to be in-your-face," he says. "Which eliminates a few bands that I'd like to have—Snow Patrol or Coldplay—but ultimately they don't give you that effect. Game first." Rule No. 2: Resist outside pressure.
PHOTOGRAPH BY GREGG SEGAL

.j^fN #814 April 8,

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