Rock Band Network tunes in with more than 100 songs

MTV Games and Harmonix launch open-ended music store for rhythm franchise; The Shins, Of Montreal, KMFDM among initial artists; Flight of the Conchords, Smashing Pumpkins on the way.

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Dim the lights and fade the house music because Rock Band Network is finally taking the stage. MTV Games and Harmonix today flipped the switch on the Rock Band Network Music Store, lowering the barriers facing bands who want to make their songs available to Rock Band players.

Keep an eye out for
Keep an eye out for "Hiphopapotamus vs. Rhymenocerus" on Rock Band Network.

Originally announced last July, the garage-band-friendly addition to the Rock Band music store lets bands prepare and release their own tracks for sale as downloadable content in the game. Using the Reaper Digital Audio Workstation program, musicians will be able to take their master-track recordings and add note charts for each instrument.

Once the note tracks are in place, users will be able to upload it through the Xbox 360's XNA Creators Club. There, the track will go through peer review from other Creators Club members. After earning approval from that community, the song will go up on the Rock Band downloadable song store, where musicians will earn 30 percent of whatever revenues the song garners.

MTV Games has said Rock Band Network would play host to established acts, as well as unknowns, and the store's debut backs that claim up. In addition to indie rock darlings like The Shins and Of Montreal, the Rock Band Network's initial slate of more than 100 songs includes tracks by Steve Vai, Jonathan Coulton, KMFDM, Five Finger Death Punch, The Main Drag, Kristin Hersh, Bif Naked, Nick Gallant, and more. MTV Games has also said that tracks are in the pipeline from Smashing Pumpkins and the folk-comic duo Flight of the Conchords.

To help the unknown acts get a leg up on their more established colleagues, the game will also feature a T-Mobile-sponsored Artist of the Month program beginning in April. The tracks will be exclusive to the Xbox 360 versions of Rock Band for at least 30 days, but "a selection of standout tracks" will eventually find their way to the PlayStation 3 and Wii editions of the game.

Those interested in authoring their own Rock Band tracks or signing up to be a peer reviewer to assist others with in-development works can register on the Rock Band Network Web site.

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