Rock Band to give artists their own (limited) stage
Much like websites such as MP3.com and others that sprang up many years ago, the team behind Rock Band intend to allow independent musicians to upload their own work and sell it to Rock Band owners.
Whilst this does solve one problem for Harmonix and MTV – namely the delivery of a regular stream of licenced music – the new system will also offer challenges that require considerable thought.
The introduction of the new Rock Band Network marks a fundamental shift in the exposure music games can give emerging and established artists through innovative technologies that will open new revenue streams and promotional avenues.
“Our goal with Rock Band has always been to go beyond making music games and create a true music platform. With the Rock Band Network, we’ve evolved the platform to its next logical step, giving players access to an incredible amount of new music by putting the professional tools we use in the hands of the artists themselves.” – Alex Rigopulos, CEO and co-founder of Harmonix.
However, artists that have a PS3 or Wii will be disappointed to find out that they will not be able to upload their own work to the system.
Potential publishers will need a membership to Microsoftâ€™s XNA Creators Club Online in order to test and publish game content. The service will only be available to those who purchase a premium membership to Microsoftâ€™s XNA Creators Club Online, which can be purchased for four months at $49.99 or for a year at $99.99.
After these tracks have been approved they will be available exclusively to Xbox 360 owners for 30 days. After that point, what Harmonix and MTV call ‘stand out tracks’ will be made available for download on the PS3 and Wii.
Of course, Harmonix and MTV will need to ensure they don’t fall foul of the problems sites like MP3.com fell into several years ago, and ensuring that artists actually do own the proper rights to the music they are uploading will be paramount to the success of the system.
So this is one of those bitter-sweet moments. On the one hand we are seeing a console provide the kind of self-publishing capabilities previously only offered through indie music distribution websites, and with the added bonus that this will be playable content.
But on the other hand, it is disappointing to see the upload service limited to only one of the current generation of consoles, and a watered down track-list coming to the PS3 based on how popular the songs are on an alternative platform with a slightly different demographic.
The Rock Band Network will launch as an open beta in late August 2009 in the U.S., with no word currently on whether it will make it to other territories.