Brandon Boyer

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Minorly earth-shattering music/game news this morning from the Rock Band camp as they officially unveil The Rock Band Network, a new program for any musician or band to create their own Rock Band tracks and sell them through the game’s online store a new Rock Band Network store.

The Network will work alongside the Xbox 360’s XNA Creators Club, and will let home-users output MIDI song information to accompany their master mix with plugins created especially for digital workstation Reaper, package them together as a Rock Band-compatible track with Harmonix’s own Magma tool, and preview your track in-game with a new ‘Audition mode’ being added in an upcoming patch.


From there you can publish your song to the Creators site (essentially, to the Creators Club community), where it will be peer-reviewed — as XNA games themselves are before they’re released to the Xbox 360’s Community Games section. If the track is approved, it will appear in the Rock Band store at a price point selected by you (between 50 cents to $3), with a 30/70% revenue split (at a to-be-determined percentage) between you and Harmonix/MTV.

For now, the initiative remains exclusive to the Xbox 360, though a caveat says “select songs” may appear on PS3 — presumably, those popular enough with the community to get an officially-pushed release from Harmonix.

See Harmonix’s newly opened site for more information, and to sign up for the early closed-beta trial, which is expected to launch by the end of the month, with an open beta “after August”, and an official launch by the end of the year.

[UPDATE: More information is available in this Billboard writeup, which adds a number of interesting details (corrected above), including the ability for “developers to customize the avatars, camera angles and lighting for the background video rather than using the automatically generated default setting” in Reaper, and HMX training sessions to certify track-makers, which will be officially listed for interested artists and labels.]

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  1. I anticipate massive “underground” bootleg song trading.

    People will upload copyrighted tracks and MIDI note charts to 3rd party services, via P2P, etc., and others will download those, and import them into the tools as if they were “creating” the songs themselves from their own master tracks.

    No one will ever really need to buy another rockband game again.

  2. Merreborn,

    It would be trivial for Harmonix to make such gaming-the-system painful and decidedly unworthy of your time. e.g., limit an author’s active authoring content to a fixed number of songs.

    If you want to play bootlegged songs, go check out the massive library of poorly-authored content available for Frets on Fire. If you don’t have the masters — or the ability to cover the song — you’re not going to be able to produce anything worth playing.

    If you’re a fan of Rock Band, this is only good news.

  3. @merreborn

    rtfa, they still have to go through an approval process.


    Probably not, considering they want labels to hire in-house rock band developers.

    What the hell is wrong with people, that an announcement like this is met with INSTANT skepticism? Not everyone is out to get you, you guys.

  4. merreborn: That’s precisely what the Creators Club peer review is set to catch, and why we haven’t seen any sprite-ripped Super Mario Bros. 6 games on the Community Games channel (yet).

  5. So once again from Europe: open the XNA Creators Club to Europe. You not only keep me from creating games, now you even keep me from converting my band’s master tracks into Rock Band galore.
    Damn you, German ratings board, my music has nothing to do with your archaic view of child protection!

  6. Several of you seem to have missed my point.

    The peer review process takes place AFTER you’ve completed the “development” process, and you submit the song for publishing.

    That means you can bypass it. Say you get isolated bass/guitar/vocals/drum tracks for your favorite pop song, and you design a note chart for it. You’re then allowed to test your note chart without uploading the song/having it peer reviewed.

    What prevents you from bundling up those files and emailing them to me? And what prevents me from importing those files myself, and also “testing” the song without uploading it?

    Tastycakes is right that they could limit the number of “test” songs you can create, but that may not stop bootlegging, and could cripple legitimate use (by labels, etc).

    What the hell is wrong with people, that an announcement like this is met with INSTANT skepticism? Not everyone is out to get you, you guys.

    Just being realistic. There’s already a large bootleg guitar hero scene, but the process involved is currently very rough. It involves burning an altered copy of the game disc and having a mod chip installed in your console, or use of a 2nd-rate knock off like Frets on Fire.

    This would allow easy importing of songs into a first-rate, first-party rhythm game, no hacking required. That’s a huge improvement over what’s out there now, and has the potential to drive massive growth in the bootlegging scene.

    It’s a bit naive to think people won’t try to abuse this. They’re already abusing what’s out there, with much higher levels of effort.

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