Tuesday, January 19, 2010

You, too, can have your song in Rock Band

We can't all wait for our widow to sign papers to make a mis-shapen version of our heads appear in a computer game, but there's good news if you're desperate to be part of the Rock Band world. MTV is planning to allow people to upload their own music to the game.

The idea is simple enough: Rock Band gets boring quite quickly when you've only got a limited number of tunes. But developing new songs is costly, and doesn't actually make any new money for the franchise.

Solution: Invite people to upload their own songs. The catch?

It's that bit about it being costly to make the Rock Band version of a tune:

Rather than deal with Harmonix directly, artists and labels will submit songs to a community of Harmonix-trained freelance game developers and other interested programmers who will prepare the tracks for "Rock Band." Additionally, labels can either hire trained developers or school their existing employees to do the work in-house.

Spong calculate the cost of doing this conversion is about $500 a minute. Now, the resulting songs will be sold, but between 50cents and $3 dollars, from which the person making the tracks will make just 30%.

Larger bands, then, might manage to turn a profit, but smaller acts? Not much. It might look to an outsider that MTV is trying to expand the playability of its game but at other people's expense. Certainly, only they are guaranteed to be making money on the deal.