Many often wonder about the mysterious process of getting a song featured in Rock Band or Guitar Hero. That’s about to become much easier as MTV and Rock Band developer Harmonix have announced a straightforward new submission system dubbed the Rock Band Network.
Currently in closed beta with a projected August launch date, Rock Band Network will allow any artist, from unsigned to indie label act to major label powerhouse, to submit songs for consideration. After the approval process, the songs will move on to a Rock Band Network store (separate from the existing Rock Band store) where these individual songs will be available for purchase on a track-by-track basis, with labels/artists setting their own price. Oh, and Harmonix doesn’t have time to program all these tracks – you’ll have to do it yourself or find a freelancer:
Rather than deal with Harmonix directly, artists and labels will submit songs to a community of Harmonix-trained freelance game developers and other interested programmers who will prepare the tracks for “Rock Band.” Additionally, labels can either hire trained developers or school their existing employees to do the work in-house.
Songs submitted through this process must then be reviewed by other developers to check for playability, inappropriate lyrics, copyright infringement and so on. Harmonix will post approved tracks to an in-game download store separate from its existing “Rock Band” store where creators can set their own price (50 cents to $3 per song) and receive 30% of any resulting sales. Gamers will also be able to demo 30-second samples of each track.
Although originally designed to give indie and unsigned artists a way to sell music through the game, MTV quickly realized the Rock Band Network could be used to clear the bottleneck for major-label content as well. While the Harmonix team has grown from fewer than 10 programmers to a few dozen since MTV acquired the videogame developer in 2006, the company can only add about 10 new songs per week to sell through the “Rock Band” store. The same team has also been handling the development work for the upcoming “The Beatles: Rock Band,” due in September.
This will exponentially expand the already ludicrous (700 songs) downloadable content library: every label will be itching to create their own Rock Band tracks and use the Network store as a promotional tool, just as we’ve seen with iPhone apps and iTunes. And MTV/Harmonix will be made in the shade, as they won’t have to keep doing all the programming work, but still keep 70% of the revenue. The full Billboard article is very interesting and worth a read.