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gh-aerosmith.jpgHey, do you remember the music industry? That thing that we’ve all got this weird co-dependent relationship with? Well, as you may have heard, it’s been sick for a long time – but salvation appears to be on the way, in the form of plastic guitars and drums with brightly colored buttons. It turns out that video games like “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” are not only making money in the form of downloadable songs, they’re leading players to dig into the discographies of artists they discovered through the games.

While regular versions of “Guitar Hero,” “Rock Band” and “SingStar” come loaded with songs by bands like The Rolling Stones and Radiohead, the most recent incarnations of these games allow players to go online and download additional tracks, costing anywhere from 99 cents up to $2.50 per song, depending on the game.

The downloading doesn’t stop there. Because the songs for these games can’t be burned onto a CD or uploaded to an MP3 player, many players turn to other digital download services for their own copies — as well as to dig deeper into an artist’s discography. All that musical consumption is equaling big bucks for the flailing music industry.

“Revenue back to the music industry can be huge,” said entertainment and new media lawyer Paul Menes, who’s brokered such arrangements. “Getting your music in a video game was formerly all about the publicity, but because of the amount of sales these games are bringing in these days, the labels want to get paid. It’s no longer just a vehicle for promotion.”

Next week brings us the Aerosmith version of Guitar Hero, which I’m probably more stoked about than I oughtta be. I’m a full-on GH addict, and the thing about it is that while it helps to be a fan of the music to enjoy the game, you don’t really have to be – I like Aerosmith as much as the next guy, but even if I didn’t it would still be fun. Still, I can’t help but pine for a WFPK edition of Guitar Hero – how incredible would it be to stand in your living room in your pajamas, jumping around like an idiot and thumping on your plastic guitar to My Morning Jacket or Townes Van Zandt?