GamesBeat

How Rock Band Network Works

This post has not been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.


Editor's note: Jaycee's article clears up a lot of questions I had about Rock Band Network. Now that I know more about it, it sounds like an insufferably irritating process that doesn't reward those who are the most dedicated. Best of luck to anyone who tries. -James


I've been waiting two months, and my first Rock Band Network song has yet to hit the Music Store. I blame it entirely on my work ethic and my celebrity status, which is zilch.

Working on Rock Band Network content is a long and arduous task. It's extremely satisfying if you have the patience, the will, and most importantly, the ability to take criticism — which is surprisingly articulate and helpful. If anything, I hope this gives everyone a little insight about the whole process. I’d expand on the details, but I’ll keep it short for now since I’m not sure how much interest is out there. The announcement of Rock Band 3 has me feeling like the impact of the genre is diminishing.

The process involves a digital audio workstation (DAW) like Reaper (developed by Cockos), which can definitely throw you for a loop if you're not familiar with it. It’s not the best-designed software, but it’s by far the cheapest. Also, Harmonix has worked with Cockos to provide plug-ins specifically designed to emulate the note charts you see in the game, which really helps the workflow. If you’re developing on the PC side you can even plug in the plastic guitars and chart the song that way.

 

One thing a lot of people can’t seem to grasp is that you absolutely need to have the separate instrument tracks and master recordings of the song you're converting. This is how the game mutes individual instruments when somebody messes up.

Once you’re done charting the instruments, you must also animate the characters and choose appropriate camera cuts and effects for the venue. It’s by far the lamest part of the whole process, but Harmonix requires it. Once your package is complete, you’re ready to audition your song online — just as you’d play any other song in the game. Prepare to do this ad nauseam.

This is where the task takes its toll and pushes your patience to 11. In my case, it also solidified how horrible I am at marketing my music and why I ultimately fail as a “successful” musician: In my crazy, little, demented mind, I have a blast writing music and jumping from one project to another. I don't have the desire to reach — let alone satisfy — the millions of listeners most other bands yearn for.

If you're in this for the money, good luck. Your song must first go through a two-week playtest; during this time, the community interacts with your song and gives you feedback on what should change and what should stay the same. If you’re song fails, it’s back to editing and resubmitting for another two weeks.

If you know what you’re doing, and you submit a solid song, the odds are good that some jackass who thinks you've misplaced one note will fail your song. And the you have to restart the process. For the most part, the feedback is fantastic, but like the rest of the Internet, you always have to deal with that one troll behind a computer who has nothing better to do than suck.

If your song makes it to the store, the normal XNA rules apply. You must reach a certain payout per quarter to receive payment. What isn't transparent is whether or not Microsoft takes its cut before or after you meet the minimum payout requirement.

If you’re a well-known band, your chances of making money on the RBN  Music Store are much greater than if you’re just some schmo like myself. You know, the people who do it simply for the sake of doing it.

Well, I've got to get back to resubmitting my song. I just wanted to take a quick break and write this up. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Is anyone else out there in the Bitmob community working on RBN content, or is it just me?

Update:  I spaced it on adding in this overview video when I wrote this up.  I had a larger cup of coffee today so here ya go.  Sorry but for some reason I can't embed to avoid having to visit the link externally.  

 

 
 
Two months laterTwo months later and my first Rockband Network song has yet to hit the Music Store.  I’ll blame that entirely on my work ethic and celebrity status, which of course is zilch.  Working on Rockband Network content is a long and arduous task which is extremely satisfying if you have the patience and will but most importantly can take criticism that surprisingly can be exceptionally articulate and helpful.  If anything, I hope this gives you guys a little insight into the whole process.  I’d expand on it but I’ll keep it short for now seeing as I’m not sure how much interest is out there at the moment.  With the announcement of Rockband 3 I can’t help but feel like the impact of genre is slightly diminishing.
 
The process involves DAW software such as Reaper, developed by Cockos, which if you’re not familiar with can definitely throw you for a loop.  It’s not the best designed software but it’s by far the cheapest and Harmonix has worked with Cockos to provide specifically designed plug-ins to emulate the charts you see in the game which immensely aids in the workflow.  If you’re developing on the PC side you can even plug in the plastic guitars and chart the song that way.  One thing a lot of people can’t seem to grasp is that you ABSOLUTELY need to have the individual tracks and masters of your music.  It’s crucial in allowing the game to mute only certain instruments in case any of the other band members “Peter Moore” it up.  Once you’re done charting the instruments you must also animate the characters and choose appropriate camera cuts and effects for the venue.  It’s by far the lamest part of the whole process but it must be done.  If you’re package is complete you’re ready to audition your song on your Xbox 360 just as you’d play any other song in the game.  Prepare to do this ad nauseam.  
 
This is where the task takes it’s toll and pushes your patience to 11.  In my case it also solidified how horrible I am at marketing my music and why, ultimately, I fail as a “successful” musician.  While in my crazy little demented mind I have a blast simply writing music and jumping from one project to  another without having any desire to reach, let alone satisfy, the millions of listeners most other bands just yearn for.  I could care less however if you’re in this for the money, like most cock stars, good luck.  Your song must first go through a 2 week playtest where the community tests your song and gives feedback on what should change or stay the same.  If you’re song fails it’s back to editing and resubmitting another 2 weeks.  If you know what you’re doing and submit a fairly solid song odds are there will be some jackass who thinks this note shouldn’t go here and fails your song and again the process must be restarted.  For the most part the feedback is fantastic but there will always be that troll behind the computer who has nothing better to do than suck.
 
If you’re song makes it to the store the normal XNA rules apply.  You must reach a certain payout per quarter to receive payment, however it’s not entirely clear on whether Microsoft takes their cut before or after the payout has been met.  
 
If you’re a well known band you’re chances of making money on the RBN store are much greater than if you’re just some schmo like my self doing it simply for the sake of doing it.  Well I gotta get back to resubmitting my song.  I just wanted to take a quick break from it and write this up.  If you all have any questions please feel free to ask.
 
Anyone else out there in the Bitmob community working on RBN content? 
 
and my first Rockband Network song has yet to hit the Music Store.  I’ll blame that entirely on my work ethic and celebrity status, which of course is zilch.  Working on Rockband Network content is a long and arduous task which is extremely satisfying if you have the patience and will but most importantly can take criticism that surprisingly can be exceptionally articulate and helpful.  If anything, I hope this gives you guys a little insight into the whole process.  I’d expand on it but I’ll keep it short for now seeing as I’m not sure how much interest is out there at the moment.  With the announcement of Rockband 3 I can’t help but feel like the impact of genre is slightly diminishing.
 
The process involves DAW software such as Reaper, developed by Cockos, which if you’re not familiar with can definitely throw you for a loop.  It’s not the best designed software but it’s by far the cheapest and Harmonix has worked with Cockos to provide specifically designed plug-ins to emulate the charts you see in the game which immensely aids in the workflow.  If you’re developing on the PC side you can even plug in the plastic guitars and chart the song that way.  One thing a lot of people can’t seem to grasp is that you ABSOLUTELY need to have the individual tracks and masters of your music.  It’s crucial in allowing the game to mute only certain instruments in case any of the other band members “Peter Moore” it up.  Once you’re done charting the instruments you must also animate the characters and choose appropriate camera cuts and effects for the venue.  It’s by far the lamest part of the whole process but it must be done.  If you’re package is complete you’re ready to audition your song on your Xbox 360 just as you’d play any other song in the game.  Prepare to do this ad nauseam.  
 
This is where the task takes it’s toll and pushes your patience to 11.  In my case it also solidified how horrible I am at marketing my music and why, ultimately, I fail as a “successful” musician.  While in my crazy little demented mind I have a blast simply writing music and jumping from one project to  another without having any desire to reach, let alone satisfy, the millions of listeners most other bands just yearn for.  I could care less however if you’re in this for the money, like most cock stars, good luck.  Your song must first go through a 2 week playtest where the community tests your song and gives feedback on what should change or stay the same.  If you’re song fails it’s back to editing and resubmitting another 2 weeks.  If you know what you’re doing and submit a fairly solid song odds are there will be some jackass who thinks this note shouldn’t go here and fails your song and again the process must be restarted.  For the most part the feedback is fantastic but there will always be that troll behind the computer who has nothing better to do than suck.
 
If you’re song makes it to the store the normal XNA rules apply.  You must reach a certain payout per quarter to receive payment, however it’s not entirely clear on whether Microsoft takes their cut before or after the payout has been met.  
 
If you’re a well known band you’re chances of making money on the RBN store are much greater than if you’re just some schmo like my self doing it simply for the sake of doing it.  Well I gotta get back to resubmitting my song.  I just wanted to take a quick break from it and write this up.  If you all have any questions please feel free to ask.
 
Anyone else out there in the Bitmob community working on RBN content?