Rock bands to create soundtracks for roller-coaster rides


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The Independent Culture

It’s a captive audience for musicians, although stomach-churning nausea may be the most common response. Rock bands will create exclusive soundtracks for roller-coaster rides under a new deal agreed by EMI.

A music industry seeking to diversify as physical sales fall has hit upon theme parks, which attract millions of thrill-seeking youngsters each year, as a potential new source of revenue.

In a groundbreaking deal, EMI-signed alt-metal band You Me At Six will record the first original soundtrack dedicated to a roller-coaster ride.

Their track will accompany The Swarm, a spectacular new £20 million ride unveiled at the Thorpe Park theme park in Surrey next week.

The UK’s “first winged roller-coaster”, riders of The Swarm are promised a “flight for their lives through apocalyptic devastation…whilst hurtling through the air at death-defying speeds of almost 100km per hour.”

The pounding You Me At Six theme song will soundtrack the nervous queues, the gut wrenching ride and the groggy after-steps. It will then be available for survivors to download.

With two million customers passing through Thorpe Park each year, You Me At Six, local heroes from Weybridge who won Best British Band at the Kerrang! Awards last year, get to reach a large audience of potential new fans. Thorpe Park said its core customers are “16-34 year-olds and young, ‘up for it’ families”.

The EMI partnership raises the possibility that other artists on the label might be awarded their own branded roller-coaster rides, such as a Kylie Corkscrew or Beatles Ticket To Ride.

Rafael McDonnell, EMI Music’s head of Brand Partnerships, said: “The ride is about death, destruction and the end of the world and we thought You Met At Six would be the perfect fit. Their music has a dark, apocalyptic feel and their teenage fans match the profile of the Thorpe Park audience.”

The band wrote the track after visiting the ride during its construction. With lengthy queue times anticipated, thrill-seekers will get an extended dose of their music.

Matching bands to brands will become increasingly important for the industry. McDonnell said: “We believe this is the first time a band has written a track for a theme park. It’s a key part of our diversification strategy to find new ways of getting fans to hear music.”

Aerosmith were the first band to authorise a white-knuckle ride when they endorsed the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster created at the Walt Disney theme parks. A medley of the band’s hits is blasted through trains during the ride.

The risk for rock stars branding theme park rides is that on the rare occasions where a roller-coaster malfunctions, with customers injured or worse, the band’s reputation could be tainted.

Led by singer Josh Franceschi, You Me At Six have enjoyed two UK top five albums. Franceschi also launched his own clothing range and the band will take part in the Warped tour of the US this Summer, which is sponsored by Vans sneakers.

Mike Vallis, Divisional Director at Thorpe Park, said: “We strive to give our adrenaline seeking fans an experience that they won’t get anywhere else, so it is hugely exciting that the world’s first dedicated song for a rollercoaster will be written for us - I’m sure our customers will jump at the chance to add this track to their iPod playlist.”