The rockers are among the bands using their songs to soundtrack to high profile games...

The Darkness’ assault on America has been given an unusual boost in the form an American football game – and they’re not the only ones.

Tracks from the band’s album ‘Permission To Land’ are to be used on the soundtrack for the 2004 instalment of the hugely successful John Madden Football series – a move which could prove make or break for the band’s US fortunes.

British bands have traditionally struggled for years trying to break America. The size of the landmass to tour and competition for playlisting on TV and radio mean most fall at the first hurdle.

Yet with the increase in the use of new music video game soundtracks, and more bands are finding a well-placed song can send their profile skyrocketing.

Steve Schnur is Worldwide Executive of Music for Electronic Arts, the software powerhouse who have pioneered state-of-the-art sports games like the FIFA soccer series. He claims that the gaming market is becoming more and more crucial to a band’s promotion.

“The bottom line is that you know people between the ages of 12 and 24 spend the majority of their social time online, and they spend the rest of their time playing video games,” he told NME.COM. “Radio and TV have become the third and fourth hub of activity. Since we started being dedicated to new music and new bands, I would say about 95% of all the music in EA games now are new bands.”

The Darkness are the latest who EA see as a central part of their development. Schnur came across The Darkness after reading about them in NME and picking up their album, ‘Permission To Land’ when visiting the UK. All it took was a call to the band’s US label, Atlantic, and the wheels were in motion, he says, for the breaking of the band in the world’s most lucrative music market.

“We’ve created these partnerships with all the labels and all the publishers, and with so many of the bands, hip-hop, techno, rock and so on, and we’ve had an enormous influence on record sales and an enormous influence on ticket sales. We have an enormous influence on radio requests, and enormous amount of influence on the press. Through the time they’re playing FIFA or NBA Live, they discover American hip-hop artists like Fabolous (and) Canadian artists like Avril Lavigne. With FIFA we had Kings Of Leon’s second single.”

Schnur says that the key to success is for companies like EA to operate as far in advance as radio and television pluggers.

“Now would be a bad time to put Junior Senior’s first single in the UK in a game that comes out a year from now,” says Schnur. “We need to be developing bands just like NME does, just like certain radio stations and just like sometimes MTV does.”

As such, tracks from The Darkness will appear on EA’s John Madden Football 2004 game in time for the band to build on the US release of ‘Permission To Land’. The next British band to receive Schnur’s golden touch will be Lostprophets, who have already licensed three tracks from their forthcoming second album to three EA titles next year.

“You can look at our video game stage much more like an MTV environment now, dedicated to new music and new bands,” says Schnur. “We’ve done away with, with all due respect, the days when football games would have Chumbawamba.”