With the release of the Rock Band Network, a bunch of indie labels have jumped at the opportunity to get their music into it, and out in front of new fans. We got a chance to talk to a number of these labels and get their thoughts on RBN. Enjoy getting a peek into what the label side of the RBN process is thinking!
1. What prompted you to get involved with Rock Band Network?
Mark Vieira, Prosthetic Records: “Music placement in video games has obviously become a very important way to get music out to the masses. For a lot of bands and labels, it’s always been an almost unattainable goal. RBN has leveled the playing field and given everyone of every genre a chance, and is giving the consumer/the fan/the gamer, the ultimate power to decide what THEY want to listen to/play along with. I think it’s also killer to give people an opportunity to shred along to their favorites, like Skeletonwitch! I’ve also always thought there’s a strong connection between gamers and the underground music community, esp metal and punk rock. So bringing an underground 'punk rock'mentality of “anyone can do this” into the video game world is a massive accomplishment!”
Leda Chang, Red Bull Records: “At Red Bull Records, we're committed to finding new ways to bring about music discovery and making our music available wherever music lovers are. With Rock Band, users are fans who are engaging on a both a visual and physical level - and the Rock Band Network empowers them to dig deeper into a catalogue of songs that are meant to be experienced. Play more, play harder. It changes the meaning of the song; it builds a stronger connection to newfound material.”
2. How did you decide which bands would be the best fit for RBN?
Branden Linnell, Century Media Records: “Our initial offering of songs to launch with RBN were decided by a combination of which bands had new releases at the time RBN needed the assets, which songs had multitrack stems readily available, and what MTV thought would be a good fit. In the future it will be a combination of costs to get them onto the network vs. how well we think they will do, popularity of the song, past album sales if it is an older song, album release dates if it is a new song, tour dates, promotions etc. Oh and of course by how much fun we think the song will be to play on Rock Band.”
Laura Kyprie, Equal Vision Records: “I listened to a lot of the releases we put out with the game in mind, and tried to think about which ones would be the most fun to play, which ones fans were the most stoked on, and which ones had vocal parts that everyone could sing.”
3. What bands do you currently have in the RBN pipeline and which bands would you like to showcase in the future?
Tony Kiewel, Sub Pop Records: “Right now we've got a lot of stuff from The Shins, Flight of the Conchords, Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes, Iron & Wine, Sleater-Kinney, and Sunny Day Real Estate at various stages of development. I'd love to get some Postal Service and Mudhoney in there in the near future too. There are some technical issues to be sorted out with those two though that are slowing things down a bit. If the sales of our first wave work out the way I hope they will I'd like to be able to lower the bar a bit and start developing some of our newer/smaller bands.”
BL: “Currently we have: Lacuna Coil, Suicide Silence, In This Moment, 3 Inches Of Blood, Winds Of Plague, Despised Icon, Warbringer.
Soon we hope add: Iwrestledabearonce, Vampires Everywhere, Kings X, The Agonist, Firewind, Arch Enemy, Dark Tranquillity, Orpaned Land, Symphony X, Ayreon, Nevermore...The list goes on”
MV: “Right now, we have two tracks in the pipeline. “Great Plains” by Scale the Summit and “Fight to Kill” by Holy Grail.
I think we’d like to see most of our artists available in RBN. I’d venture to say that Animals As Leaders would be one of our next entries."
LC: “Twin Atlantic and Black Gold are currently in the pipe. AWOLNATION will be soon to follow later this year!”
LK: “In the next month or two, we have songs on the way from Chiodos, Portugal. The Man, Closure in Moscow, and Circa Survive. I'd love to get some of our more punk bands in as well, like Therefore I Am and This Time Next Year.”
4. In what ways do you see RBN benefitting you that more traditional means of music distribution and promotion do not?
MV: “Physical music isn’t selling like it used to, and as music retailers continue to fall, we’re also looking for new places to get our artists heard. This definitely seems like something that has legs, and has the ability to stay around for a while. Who knows? Maybe in a few years, we’ll only be selling mp3s and video game downloads!”
LK: “It really allows people to be interactive with the music and spend more time with it. People are exposed to such an unbelievable amount of music through the internet, that it gets increasingly hard for bands to stand out. For someone to take the time to download a track on RBN and learn to play it- that creates a fan who hopefully will go out and buy the album and support the band in other ways, more so than a banner ad on a website.”
BL: “Well RBN is going to increase song availability for Rock Band exponentially. So I think gamers are going to use this to search and find new music in the way they look through iTunes. But I think it will be a bit different in that the search will be more about finding a fun song to play rather than just finding a song they like to hear. But once our songs get played a few times I think it will turn into something people want to hear as well as play. And that is good for us!
I'm also happy to see that gamers will be able to search by genre and Label so METAL fans can instantly find our songs and I think this will turn new people on to our bands as well."
5. What expectations / hopes do you have for the future of RBN?
BL: “I expect/hope it is a huge success. I hope that lots of people out there get good at authoring so we have plenty of people to choose from to author our tracks. If these 2 things happen, it will be easy for me to get many more songs onto RBN.”
LK: “I expect it to keep getting better and better and become a place where music lovers can find whatever song they've always wanted to play with their friends (Bear Vs Shark, Bear Vs Shark, Bear Vs Shark...).”
TK: “My hope is for it to become wildly successful so I can justify developing lots more music.”
LC: “If nothing else, it's an important statement that RBN has enabled the independent music community to provide content to the Rock Band audience - that RBN wants to give a robust offering of quality music and encourage developing artist submissions. We share that goal and so will always support our partners who can help create an artist community that provides a medium to help develops acts into their greater potential along the way. It would be great for Rock Band users to play longer, dig deeper, and ultimately not only consume more music, but rock out a bit more with new bands they've discovered through the network.”
MV: “I hope that people take full advantage of the entire network, and that it continues to thrive. I think something like this could seriously change the way video game soundtracks across the board are looked at."