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Rock’s Influence on Contemporary Forms of Media

Ask any fan of the genre about its longevity and you’ll receive one overwhelming response: rock will never die. As true as this might be, it does raise some interesting questions about the relationship that rock has with other forms of media. From TV to movies and interactive experiences, mixing rock with other evolving systems always involves a challenge. Following these paths leads to some interesting destinations, with some strong implications about what we can expect from the generations to come.

Matching a Major Theme in Movies

The biggest songs in rock music are those which transcend time and borders, gaining international fame and long-lasting recognition. This makes them great for connecting fans, but it also means they hold a lot of power in licensing agreements. Obtaining the right to play one of these tracks in a major film means choosing and implementing wisely, with an understanding of a track’s weight.

Iron+Man_wallpapers_6” (CC BY 2.0) by chris Doornbos

The MCU has illustrated a couple of powerful examples of how much a well-chosen rock track can bring to a filmgoing audience. Black Sabbath’s Iron Man was heavily featured in advertising material for its fame (though against the wishes of some Marvel executives), with Thor Ragnarok following a similar path with Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song. These rock tracks helped ground what are outrageous special effects and concepts, helping consolidate these movies as two of Marvel’s best.

A Balance in TV

Television shows often find themselves in a more challenging place, with far longer runtimes and far more limited budgets, meaning that it’s difficult to afford the rights to the biggest tracks. You’re unlikely to see many Rolling Stones songs used in an average show, and this can make implementing mainstream rock a challenge.

Even for shows which emphasise music, less famous rock music will tend to be more common, which is by no means a bad thing. The indie scene in rock provides some of the most innovative sounds, though it does come at the cost of widespread recognition. Still, this freedom allows TV shows to form more unique identities, and even help introduce rock bands to audiences who might otherwise never be exposed.

Paving a Path in Games

Rock music’s use in games can be used in a couple of forms, where balance can again become an issue with big bands because of licensing costs. Smaller video games, for example, will tend to feature original rock tracks or those from smaller bands, but the same isn’t true for AAA releases. The GTA games are a famous example for including an enormous number of rock songs from some of the biggest bands in history, which is easy for the developer because of GTA’s budget.

GTA 5 screen 2
GTA 5 screen 2” (Public Domain) by Lokopixo

The smaller titles which lean on rock are best demonstrated by dedicated titles like rock slots. Games like Mötley Crüe and Alice Cooper and the Tome of Madness accomplish involvement through overwhelming popularity. They may be small individual releases, but they’re reliably popular with players and accessible on a range of devices like tablets, smartphones, laptops, and computers, so their development pays off.

As great of an idea as it can be to integrate rock music with media, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Implementation is about understanding the fundamental differences between audiences and the realities of funding and working within those frameworks to the greatest advantage. As for what this means about a genre of music that is about breaking rules, that’s a much more complicated question.

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