My name is Robert and I work for the licensing division for a major international record label. Because of my position, I can't disclose the company I work for, but to count we have about 175 active major artists signed with us ranging from hip-hop, to country, to Top 40. I come here speaking for myself, but as a kind of "open letter" from other major record labels who are running into the same problem.
Very recently I have had more then a lion's share of "licensing requests", (I term I use very loosely), for Rock Band Network. Many are being forwarded by A&R, and some by the artists themselves. As much as I appreciate fans taking upon themselves to try and bring our music into a new medium, I'm sorry to say that you are going about it the wrong way, and in fact, is becoming an enormous waste of time for myself. I'm now devoting much of my time having to correspond with artists warning them that they do not own the rights to their songs and can not give permission. Some of this this is my fault, as I took the initiative to make sure everyone was on the level when it came to licensing. Somehow I became the local "the Rock Band Guy" (which is somewhat amusing as we already have a "Rock Band Guy", who is in a whole other non-music division of our parent company.)
This would not be so bad, but many of these requests from the fans are often childish, naïve, and many times, demanding. They show how little they know about how the music industry works, and do not have any kind of proper etiquette for company communication. (And, no, sending boilerplate spam does not count as etiquette either). I even had a request "offering" to "chart a song for free", and then asking to "work out a deal for sharing the profits". Even though this laughable at the very least and illegal at the very most, it reflects the kinds of requests being forwarded to me.
I decided to come here on behalf of my company and my sanity asking kindly to stop emailing major artists asking them to be in Rock Band Network. At this time, myself and most likely the other "majors" are not interested in this. We already have open communications with MTV and Harmonix about their "Rock Band" brand and can not discuss licensing/contract issues openly.
If you are serious about getting a band in "Rock Band Network", I want to impart you with some advice. Think of these things as "hints" to point you in the right direction. At the very least, you can see how the process is supposed to go.
1) In order to gave permission for a song, you need to obtain a "master use right" from the copyright owner. Please understand that this is never the actual performer. This is held by the record label. Sadly there are many artists that don't quite understand that they can get sued by their own record label for giving permission to publish a song. I have had to deal with these situations first hand and they are not pretty. If you don't know how to properly secure the rights to a master, we are not going to bother talking to you. All you are doing is wasting our time.
2) You will need to obtain a "mechanical license" from the proper licensor. This is pretty easy as there is only one in the U.S. If you want to record and distribute a song that was written by someone else, or if your business requires the distribution of music that was written by others, you must obtain a mechanical license. If you don't know how to obtain a mechanical license then, again, you have no business asking for one. You most likely can't afford one anyway.
The upshot is this; Unless you send a licensing firm a certified letter, have a lawyer on retainer, and have at least $100,000, anyone who is actually serious about music licensing isn't going to bother talking to you. It's nice to play pretend with your little plastic guitars, but if you want to play with the big boys I suggest you grow up a little first.
Thanks for listening to my side.