MTV to launch Rock Band Network

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In the days of old, true music fame meant a multi-million dollar tour, gold records and groupies galore. Now the paradigm has shifted and real rock star status is marked by getting your song on to a Rock Band game.

In the same way they brought Led Zeppelin and Lynrd Skynrd to throngs of 13-year-old boys, Harmonix and MTV Games have announced the launch of The Rock Band Network.

Let us explain. The Rock Band Network, which recently ended its beta trial, will launch in August and allow artists and bands from across the world, from underground darlings to major label divas, to upload their own songs as playable tracks to be purchased by would-be rock stars everywhere.

Songs will be first play-tested by the premium members of Microsoft’s XNA Creators Club, which anyone can join for $99.99 a year. After the testing phase, songs will be available for sale, with prices chosen by the bands based on a pricing tier. According to, the prices will range from 50 cents to $3 and each act will receive 30% of the sales. The songs will be exclusive for the Xbox 360 before being opened up to Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3 gamers.

With the 700 already available songs reaching over 50 million downloads, even major indie label Sub Pop has promised to place its major catalog for the last two years for the network.

MTV, despite claims of an almost music-free existence, want to expose more people to music. MTV Games senior VP of electronic games and music Paul DeGooyer told Billboard the plan is to streamline the music and gaming merger that’s been generated by Rock Band and competing platforms.

“Recorded music on its own no longer leads the charge for artists. It’s now this aggregated value proposition of recorded music, touring, merch, branding, Web presence and now videogames . . . If we get this right, music creators will start to think about what they’re releasing in terms of interactivity.”

For the nearly as exciting visuals, developers will be brought in to help create lighting and custom avatars for bands to use. Even with high-end production values, one potential issue raised by Billboard is whether the submitted songs will be up to the same standards as the tracks developed by the game’s programmers and creators.