The New Record Biz?

Could former CEO of BMG Strauss Zelnick be on to something? Is the record business fading away or is it just morphing into something more lucrative?

Zelnick is now the chairman of Take-Two Interactive Software and is applying his expertise to video games, especially the company’s flagship product, Grand Theft Auto IV.

For those just crawling out from underneath a rock, the game about an Eastern European immigrant gangster roaming the streets of New York racked in $500 million in worldwide sales in its first week.

Take-Two said about 6 million units of GTA IV were sold during its first week and 3.6 million units for $310 million were sold on its first day of sale, April 29th, according to the Los Angeles Times. The previous record was set last year by Microsoft Corp’s Halo 3 video game, which brought in $300 million its first week of sales.

"We believe these retail sales levels surpass any movie or music launch to date," Zelnick told the Times. "This signals just how important interactive entertainment has become in entertainment writ large."

In comparison, Madonna’s latest album, Hard Candy, which was released in the U.S. on the same day as GTA IV, sold 280,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

In other video game news, Guitar Hero IV is expected to be a significant departure from its predecessor. The video game has become a boon to artists looking for new ways to distribute music and build fan bases. Guitar Hero IV should rival Rock Band, which also incorporates bass, drums and vocals, in addition to the miniature plastic guitar, according to

In addition to allowing users to create their own guitars, drums and songs, Guitar Hero IV will feature master tracks for all songs in the game, including tracks by Van Halen, Eagles, Linkin Park and Sublime.