Friday, July 17, 2009

Finally - Rock Band becomes accessible to the little guy!

What do I mean by that? Oh, just a little something called "The Rock Band Network."

For a while now, Rock Band has been the definitive game of choice by those who enjoy multiplayer music games. Sure, Guitar Hero may sell more units overall, but it over-saturates the market with a game that gets so tedious that after a while you're begging for a change. Guitar Hero even had to take a page from Rock Band's book in the end and introduce a multi-instrument game. And even though Rock Band is now falling into some of the same mistakes that Guitar Hero has fallen into (i.e. games based on one band alone that cost more money and look cooler than the one you already have therefore making an annoyed consumer), it still did something Guitar Hero didn't, and that was give a lot of credit to the little guy. While Guitar Hero tried to bring in big name bands and songs that have crazy solos that make your hands bleed due to their over complication of the instrument (but that's another rant for another day), Rock Band decided to put in some bands that weren't as known to the general public, such as Bang Camaro and Freeze Pop who, despite having the easy in-point of having direct ties to Harmonix, began to gain popularity due to the exposure of their music. Now, I'm 100% aware that Freeze Pop has been in Guitar Hero II, but let's also not forget that Guitar Hero II was the last entry in that game that Harmonix actually worked on, so no duh they got into that game. Now, however, where are you likely to say Freeze Pop and Bang Camaro downloads on your XBOX Live! or PSN? That's right - under the tab that says Rock Band.

And this is to say nothing about the other innovation Rock Band brought. The multi-instrument gameplay an obvious one, they also brought the idea of bringing in full albums for download, as well as debuting songs in their games before people got them elsewhere. Guitar Hero has since stolen both of them and then, with Guitar Hero IV, they said, "Okay, how about this - people are going to make their own songs!" A great idea, right? I mean, the fun of these games would increase a million times with the addition of user created content, so why not introduce a system like that? Only problem is that the Guitar Hero IV song-creation system ended up being a bit buggy and mostly tedious, therefore driving away a majority of the people who would have been interested in that.

But Harmonix heard the cries of the public. They heard all the people screaming, "How can I get my music into the game?!" They heard all the people whining, "Why does Stephen Colbert get a free pass to downloadable content, but we don't??" Harmonix heard, and they responded with The Rock Band Network.

"What is this Rock Band Network you speak of, Matt?" you ask in an excited tone, to which I smile knowingly. Why, my good reader, The Rock Band Network is the greatest thing Harmonix and MTV could have done to the bands no one knows about - they've made it possible for our songs to be in the game. Not just Megadeth and AC/DC and Metallica and Aerosmith and the Beatles and Taking Back Sunday and Stephen Colbert. Now it's our turn to shine. With the Rock Band Network, anyone who owns a master of a recording as well as the credentials that it's in fact your song can now submit it to a community of Harmonix-trained freelance game developers who will then go through the necessary ricketa-racketa to make your song downloadable and playable throughout the entire world. This is a great move for independent musicians who want to get their songs out, as well as a tool for labels to promote their music, because anyone can submit a song as long as it's yours. The song will then go through the process of being reviewed for inappropriate lyrics as well as making sure that it's actual original content before being put into a special Rock Band Network store where the artist can set their own price for their song. What this means is that while Harmonix can only do so much, say, 10 songs a week, this outsourcing will allow a larger amount of songs to come in as DLC per day! Talk about exciting!

Now, I know what you're all thinking: "Wow, this is absolutely amazing! Does this mean..." and I'll interrupt you there. Yes: this does mean that once the network is all set up, I will in fact submit all those awesome songs that I've written for/with A06 for you to play, starting with "Into Shadow Forest" and perhaps eventually the entire CD. Don't worry, I've got you in my heart.

Aside from my obvious egotistical advances, however, this is a great move. Sure, by uploading your one song that you put together in Garage Band in five minutes and sang over with auto-tune to be like T-Pain, you may not ever get noticed. No one may download your song. It's a high possibility. But that doesn't mean you won't get noticed. In fact, this opens up a whole new and exciting door for aspiring artists to be noticed, because if a song does well through DLC and a lot of people seem to enjoy playing it, that increases your chances of being heard by fans as well as labels. It's a very exciting opportunity for musicians that we've been whining for for a while now, and the one time I ever got to speak with anyone involved with Harmonix, there reason for not allowing user submitted content was man power. Now they have it, and now we'll get it.

So rock on, young brothers and sisters. You wouldn't have initially expected it, but it turns out that the music video game world is the next step in the underground revolution to be heard. We started playing shows, but then people stopped leaving the house. We tried Myspace and Purevolume, and it worked for Panic! At The Disco. We tried, but nobody uses Now, a whole new era for music is waiting to be discovered, and Harmonix, MTV, and Rock Band are leading the way gloriously in shining golden armor on top of a magestic Pegasus.


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