Harmonix Music Systems and MTV Games announced the Rock Band Network, an initiative that gives musicians and record labels the ability to author their own original recordings into gameplay files and sell their music as playable Rock Band tracks through the newly-created Rock Band Network Music Store.
"Our goal with Rock Band has always been to go beyond making music games and create a true music platform," said Alex Rigopulos, CEO and co-founder of Harmonix. "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."
"The Rock Band Network enables songwriters and musicians - at any stage of their careers - to create their own paths through the interactive music realm," said Paul DeGooyer, Senior Vice President, Electronic Games and Music, MTV Networks Music Group. "Our download store has been an extraordinary success, and it's exciting for us to provide access to our platform through this uniquely elegant solution."
The Rock Band Network will launch as an open beta in late August 2009 in the U.S. and provide a sophisticated toolset, with detailed documentation on how bands can begin the process of authoring songs into Rock Band gameplay files. Authors will be able to submit tracks for playtesting and peer review via a specialized Web site, Creators.RockBand.com. Potential publishers will need a membership to Microsoft'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 Microsoft's XNA Creators Club Online, which can be purchased for four months at $49.99 or for a year at $99.99.
"The proven strength and stability of Microsoft's game development tools, technologies and services allowed Harmonix to focus on making an easy-to-use experience for authors without needing to reinvent the wheel," said Dave Mitchell, product unit manager, XNA publishing platform. "Rock Band Network is a model example of integration with XNA Creators Club Online."
Once tracks are approved, they will be transferred to the Rock Band Network Store, an in-game music marketplace where millions of Rock Band fans will be able to demo samples of the songs for free before they purchase. Songs will debut exclusively on Xbox 360 for 30 days. Artists featured in the store will be able to choose from multiple pricing tiers for individual tracks and will be compensated via a simple payment system that provides automated accounting and regular royalty payments.
Tracks for the Rock Band Network will be made available later in the fall on the Xbox 360. Stand out tracks will follow on the PLAYSTATION 3 and Wii.