More music downloads coming for `Rock Band'

Fans of the music video game Rock Band were abuzz last month when its creators announced they will throw open the doors to the online store where it sells downloadable tracks for the game.

But where most players will be logging on to the service to spend their money, at least one software programmer sees a business opportunity.

Starting later this year, Rock Band Network will let aspiring musicians upload their songs as tracks that others can buy and download.

Think of it like Apple's App Store - a relatively open marketplace where anybody with some programming skills is invited to design and sell their own software applications for the iPhone.

For all the world's great indie bands and unsigned talent, there's a catch: not every would-be rock star who can play a real Fender Strat will take time to master the software to get that song into the game.

So for either a flat fee or a cut of sales, programmer J. C. Cirri and his start-up, Rhythm Authors, will convert a band's song into a game level.

After a bit of beta testing, any Rock Band player with a web-connected Xbox can download it and rock out.

Tracks will be priced at $1, $2 or $3.

For every dollar the artist gets 30c, or about half that if they're splitting it with Mr Cirri.

He said most of the bands he had talked to were interested in the exposure an appearance in Rock Band might bring them.

"Album sales have gone through the roof for bands that have been featured in Rock Band and Guitar Hero," he said.

Rock Band Network says people have bought 50 million downloads for the game from a pool of about 530 songs. - The Washington Post

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