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RBN Profiles: The Authority and Gamer Beats

Get a behind-the-scenes look at Rock Band Network authoring companies in our RBN Profiles series. This week, we introduce you to The Authority and Gamer Beats.

The company: The Authority
Their website: http://www.authoritymusic.com
Examples of their work: Drowning Pool, Ween, Rodrigo y Gabriela
Speaking for The Authority: Clinton Vadnais

How did you get into RBN authoring?

The three founding members of The Authority were fortunate enough to have been invited into the closed beta back in June of '09, extensively trained in all aspects of the authoring process by the great folks at Harmonix. As for the decision of taking the plunge, it was really a no-brainer - we love music and games and this was an opportunity to combine them both.

Who are the people on your team, and what are their roles?

Matthew Ellard manages the everyday operations of The Authority as well as handling all things audio.

Clinton Vadnais is the go-to guy for everything technical. As Chief Author he oversees our authoring team, making sure our high standards are maintained, whilst maintaining our presence on the RBN and Creators forums. He also updates and maintains our website, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. He's a busy man!

Marc Friedman oversees quality control as well as being Chief Bass and Guitar author. Damian Gates is The Authority's business manager.

Our team of authors are all accomplished gamers and musicians. Our approach is to author with the eye of a gamer, but the soul of a musician. Our motto, "Made By Musicians, For Musicians," highlights our dedication to provide accurate, lifelike, and extremely enjoyable game play, focusing on the nuances of real human performance, for every level from beginner to expert.

There is more detailed information about us on our website if anyone should want to dig in deeper.

Do you have an authoring specialty or specific kinds of artists that you hope to attract?

We have very broad musical tastes so why limit ourselves to one genre when there are so many out there? Currently, there are a few genres that have provided the main body of work available and we would be stupid to ignore them. However, we are very excited about the prospect of bringing different new and exciting styles of music to the game to broaden the horizons and expand the skills of all the gamers out there. We have already covered many genres: Christian Metal, Death Metal, Garage Rock, Alt Country, Funk, Punk, Ska, Hardcore, Comedy, Pop, Indie Rock, Jam, Jazz and we will continue to extend our reach further afield, providing fresh new and exciting content for people to play.

What's your favorite part of authoring?

That is a little tough to pin down. There is something really cool about loading up a clean session with a new song and diving in. That might be trumped by the first time you get to build the file and play it through. At the same time it is also really great letting the client know that the song is in the store and moving on. I guess it is sort of like that proverb "if you love something set it free...." Even after that though it is awesome to see the response and reaction from the gamers and move on to the next batch of songs.

What's the most challenging part of authoring?

There are really many ways to answer this question. Sometimes in specific instances it may be a tricky vocal part or a complicated drum solo. Overall though, to narrow it down to one answer I would have to say that it's calling a song finished: stopping the testing, polishing and tweaking. There are so many elements that make up a song. Double checking and optimizing every single aspect can be a huge undertaking in itself.

Do you have a cool or funny story to share with the community?

With SXSW coming up again I was recently reflecting on some of the events of last year. We headed down to Austin. Marc was already going to play with The Slip. The rest of us decided to go as well. We put on a couple of really cool parties. One was a nice big parking lot concert on St. Patricks Day co-hosted with Guinness. That was a lot of fun. The reason this came to mind though was the other event we we hosted with. This is the funny story. The party was at Shangri-La with lots of great bands playing all throughout the day. At one point comedian Bill Murray showed up and got behind the bar. He was pouring tequila shots no matter what people ordered. It was pretty surreal. To make it that much more strange though, he was with RZA and GZA from Wu-Tang!

Any last words you'd like to share with our audience?

We would like to thank everyone who has given us positive feedback and encouragement. It means a lot and we appreciate them supporting RBN and Rock Band. I hope they continue to enjoy what we bring to the table. Definitely go to our website (www.authoritymusic.com) and check out our full catalog and follow us on Twitter (@TheAuthorityInc) for future news and release information.

The company: Gamer Beats
Their website: http://www.GamerBeats.com
Examples of their work: "Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom" by Parry Gripp; "Half Crazy" by Jukebox the Ghost; "Now or Never" by Confide
Speaking for Gamer Beats: Matt Greig

How did you get into RBN authoring?

It was a "bad timing, good timing" sort of thing. I got laid off from EA just as the RBN Beta was starting, so used the severance to start up Gamer Beats. I've been a Guitar Hero/Rock Band/Harmonix fanatic since the beginning, so I couldn't pass up the chance to work on the game I loved the most.

Who are the people on your team?

Gamer Beats is a one-man show. I do all of the authoring, phone/email communication with the bands, etc. Oh, and I also do vocal authoring for Rock Gamer.

Do you have an authoring specialty or specific kinds of artists that you hope to attract?

No real specialty, as Gamer Beats has put out everything from metal to indie rock to country to "Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom." I'm open to working with anyone, but tend to shy away from the 10-minute epics that take weeks to author. I'll leave those to the bigger groups.

What's your favorite part of authoring?

The most exciting moment is finally seeing the song compile and become playable in the game for the first time. After 20-40 hours of MIDI manipulation, it's hugely gratifying to finally be able to pick up an instrument and try out the guitar part that's been taunting you in your dreams over the past week.

What's the most challenging part of authoring?

For me personally, it's mixing. It's surprising how much of an art it is to get a song sounding reasonable in the game. This is made even more challenging since all playable parts need to be clearly audible, even if they aren't in the original mix. No matter what, you want the song to sound like it does on iTunes, but often you are forced to make small changes to levels for sake of playability.

Do you have a cool or funny story to share with the community?

Back when RBN was just launching, I worked with G4 to put a segment together on the authoring process. Part of this segment was to include footage of myself and some friends playing one of the Parry Gripp songs that was about to be released ("The Girl at the Videogame Store"). Problem was, my gear was all set up in a cramped studio apartment that wasn't really conducive to group play... the bed and all tended to get in the way.

We ended up finding a number of interesting camera angles that created the illusion of group play that was needed for the segment, including a bathroom mirror shot, a "standing on the bed" shot, and a rather-creepy shot from outside looking in through a window. G4 never actually used this footage (and instead went with a group of models looking beautiful while playing on Easy), but it was a blast to put together.

Any last words you'd like to share with our audience?

I really hope the audience for music outside of the core "rock/metal/punk" genres continues to grow, as there are a lot of projects I'd like to take on outside of these genres. For now the economics aren't there to justify spending time on, say, a folk song, but I very much hope there will be a market for non-traditional Rock Band genres in the future.


Two weeks from now, we'll be back with profiles of Rhythm Authors (known for their fantastic RBN-focused podcast) and Fairwood Studios (the versatile little studio that brought Rockapella to Rock Band.)