Well, it’s about time. Video game Rock Band yesterday launched a beta program to allow bands, record labels, and others to make their music playable on Rock Band. Here’s how it’ll work: Bands sign up for the Rock Band Network, use the game’s tools to author playable tracks, then upload and submit them for review by the Rock Band Creators community. Those that are approved will become available in the Rock Band Network Store (which is not yet open), and bands will get a cut of every purchase. There are still some questions, such as: How long will the process take from start to finish? How easy/difficult are the tools that bands have to use to author the tracks? (One blog suggests it’ll take new users between 20 and 40 hours per track, thereby eliminating amateurs from flooding the field.) What will this community of reviewers look like? (To be a member requires a $99/year fee, ownership of a PC, and to be 18 and older.) How much money will bands make off of each downloaded track? In any case, it sounds like a great tool for bands to get their music out to a wider, younger audience; another way for fans to support their favorite bands; as well as a brilliant, low-cost way for Rock Band game developer Harmonix to make more money, with its community of users doing the bulk of the work.
It also appears that some bands have already been approved to release tracks. Chicago-based band Umphrey’s McGee will be among the first bands to offer songs through Rock Band Network. The band worked with Rock Band freelancer and Berklee College of Music alum Andrew Buch to create the songs “1348” and “Miss Tinkles Overture” for the game. A release date hasn’t yet been set, but a press release says the songs will become available in the next few months. Here’s a preview:
We hope that’s on the “difficult” level. Yikes!