That Authoring Group allow bands and labels to have their songs downloadable for the Rock Band video game via The Rock Band Network. If you’d like to know more about the process, read on . . .
The process doesn’t use licensing like the old games used to. How this works is the bands put their own music in the game, and use a charting company (like ours) to take their music and create the playable ‘levels’ the game uses. Users then download and purchase these song levels (or DLC as it’s more commonly known) to be able to play along to the band’s music in the game. The band can set the prices, they can put in as many songs as they want, and have full creative control over the process. Think of it more as the music video game equivalent of iTunes.
The good news is there are never any fees that will come out of your or the band’s pocket to get their music in the game if you use our charting company to do the songs for you.
That Authoring Group charges nothing up front, and asks for 5% of every song downloaded in exchange for turning each song into playable tracks the game can use. So if you price them at $1, you’ll be paying (which comes from the money made and not out of your pocket) us 5 cents per song, and if it is $2 you’ll be paying 10 cents per song downloaded. If you go with the dollar price point you’ll make 25 cents per download and with the two dollar price point you’ll make 50 cents per download after it is all said and done. There is never any cost out of your pocket at any time during this entire process. So if for whatever reason any of the tracks don’t sell that well, you’ll never be in the red so to speak. We can of course institute a cap on the payouts per song. That way if the songs do exceptionally well you won’t be paying $1,000′s of dollars to us per song.
I can guarantee that this is the lowest cost you will find to get your songs on the Rock Band Network. A lot of charting groups charge $1,000-1,500 upfront for EACH song, or want a 50/50 split of the profits with the artist. That Authoring Group is doing this because we love music, and want to get as many great artists as possible into the game.
Now Harmonix and Microsoft take 70% of the profits (steep I know, but this is non-negotiable so there’s nothing we can do about that) between the two of them.
As I said earlier, you can price your tracks at $1.00, $2.00, or $3.00. Though honestly $3 is very rarely used, and is even higher than the “official” Harmonix DLC (which is usually at $2 a track), and a lot of the fans of the game will pass on tracks that are priced at $3. The price is entirely up to you and the bands, but from personal experience dealing with and interacting with the fans of the game on the Rock Band forums, a lot of them will pick up the $1.00 tracks just because they are a dollar, even if they aren’t familiar with the material beforehand. So my professional opinion is if you’re looking for maximum exposure for your band’s music then price the tracks at $1. If you’ve got more popular songs it’d be a safe bet to price it at $2 as the popularity of the song will ensure that people will still be interested in purchasing the tracks, but again this is entirely your decision.
You and the band will of course retain all rights to their songs, and at any time if you or the band are not satisfied for any reason, and want to remove your material from the service it can be done with the click of a button.
Microsoft pays out on a quarterly basis. They have 45 days from the end of the quarter to send out payments.
There are two ways we can go about the payment. One is that we submit the songs that we author through our Rock Band Network account (ThatAuthoringGroup). Two is you or someone at the label can set up an account and when we finish the songs we send them to whoever has the account and they submit the songs under that account. The payments and records of songs downloaded are only accessible to the account that submits the songs. Some bands/labels use their own account, and some just have us do it. I just wanted you to be aware of both options.
As for the process itself, That Authoring Group will need access to the master stems of the songs to make them work in the game.
Here’s what we’ll need to make the songs translate into gameplay, in order of most important to least:
1. MUST HAVE: bass, guitar, drums, vocals, any additional (non-playable) instruments in the song, like non-charted keyboards, rhythm guitars, backing vocals, percussion, etc., lyrics, and album art
2. WE COULD DO WITHOUT IT, BUT IT WOULD MAKE THINGS MUCH HARDER: A “dry” version of the vocal track with no effects
3. VERY NICE TO HAVE: Additional drum tracks. As many drum mics as you used, a track for each one is awesome to have. RBN can handle up to three stereo tracks for drums: kick, snare, and the rest of the kit. But if we get hi-hat, or individual tom tracks it will help us mix and author the song.
4. ICING ON THE CAKE: separate effect tracks, for example if the guitar uses a heavy delay, sometimes it’s nice to lower the effect separate from the played guitar in order to make the charting match the played note more clearly. Separate rhythm guitar and lead guitar takes, just for fun or to help you understand how the song was played/mixed. As many separate tracks for the non-playable tracks as possible, to help you mix later.
As for the stems themselves:
All stems should be 16 bit, 44.1k .wav files. All stems should have any needed volume rides, panning and fx processing baked in. This means that the stems should contain all the audio from the final album mix, and should sound exactly like the album mix when all played together. We can technically work with other formats, but it’ll require us to re-render them to the above specifications.
The stems are the separate pieces of digital audio that when put together create the master recording of the song.
In most cases the bands send the stems via an uploading service like Yousendit.com. Another option is to burn the stems to a CD or DVD and send them through the mail. The entire process is fairly streamlined and upon receiving the stems the charts are usually up and in testing with in a week. It generally takes about 40 man hours to initially chart and prepare the songs for use in the game, and then it goes through a testing process which can take anywhere from two weeks to a few months. Just depends on how much attention the song gets from the Rock Band Network testing community. After the song is approved it goes into quarantine for 48 hours while Harmonix makes sure all systems are go from a gameplay and legal standpoint. After that it is released into the Rock Band Network store which is accessible from the Rock Band 2 game disc (and soon to be the Rock Band 3 game disc as well), on the Xbox 360. After 30 days Harmonix picks select stand out tracks to bring over to the Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii.
If you’re interested in utilizing That Authoring Group’s services, we can send you a copy of our contract. If you have an official contract that you’d like us to sign instead, we can use that too. Contact Robby Suavé for that.
This should answer a lot of your questions, but if you have any more questions or concerns don’t hesitate to contact Robby.
The bottom line is all our prices are negotiable, and there’s never any upfront costs out of your pocket.