Proposed RBN Kickstarter Campaign to Pursue Major Label Artists

If you’re more than just a member of the Rock Band community, and an active fan of the overall video game genre, you have probably heard about Kickstarter’s recent success with video game production. Tim Schafer of Double Fine recently started a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new title, asking for $400,000. Most projects on Kickstarter are considerably less, but the final tally at the end of the Kickstarter campaign was well over $3.3 MILLION dollars, over eight times what was being asked. And more recently, a proposed sequel to post-apocalyptic RPG title Wasteland raised nearly $1.5 million after asking for “only” $900,000.

With examples like those above, it’s no doubt that fans are passionate about their video games, and enjoy helping out in raising capital for their favorite video game studios and franchises. So RBN author That Authoring Group poses the question: Why can’t this model apply to Rock Band Network DLC?

As we all know, independent and lesser known artists are the bread-and-butter of the Rock Band Network. And Rock Band tries to release songs from big name artists. But what about that middle tier of artists that may not be as well known, but still have a healthy fan base willing to “pay anything to get them on Rock Band!?” That is what a new proposed Kickstarter campaign attempts to address.

It should be no surprise that licensing artists from record labels is not a simple and cheap process. The music business is still a business (shocking, I know), and they want their taste just like everybody else. It’s not unusual for artists and record companies to require some sort of capital incentive to get the ball rolling on allowing songs to become DLC. So a new Kickstarter proposal attempts to fund DLC production for some “middle tier” artists such as (but necessarily including) Chevelle, Our Lady Peace, Weird Al, Warrant, and Andrew W.K.

While the Kickstarter campaign hasn’t been officially launched yet, That Authoring Group is soliciting feedback on the idea across the community prior to going live. The plan for right now is that a bank of songs will be requested from record companies for licensing, a total for the amount necessary to be funded will be determined based upon the record companies demands, and a Kickstarter campaign outlining the songs up for funding will be initiated. If all goes as planned, the songs specified will be put into production as DLC after the Kickstarter campaign has been successfully funded.

The full announcement, details, and Kickstarter donation tier from That Authoring Group made on the RockBand.com forums yesterday is included below.

The TAG New Music Initiative 

As everyone here knows every single member of TAG is a huge fan of Rock Band, and of music in general. Every move we’ve made as a group has been to help get more incredible bands and music into Rock Band, and help grow the Rock Band fan base wherever we could.

However we have noticed, as I’m sure a lot of you have as well, that in the current climate of Rock Band there is an entire subsection of bands and songs being left out of the current DLC landscape. Bands and music that are too big to get on the Rock Band Network as it is now, and too small for Harmonix to take a chance on with the official DLC.

So we, with Harmonix’ blessing of course, have hopefully come up with a way to remedy this.

So TAG has reached out to record labels to license music outright. Not how it’s done in the Rock Band Network where artists and labels just hand over the music and then we split the profits. We’re going to do this exactly like Harmonix does. We’re going to say hey we want this song, here’s the money for it, let’s do this (well that’s an extremely simplified version of it, but you get where I’m coming from).

Now I’m sure you’re all aware how expensive music licensing is. It isn’t cheap. Since TAG is a pretty much not for profit organization (I mean we do make a profit, but it’s mostly enough to buy a beer and a cheeseburger once a month…a very small cheeseburger), then this isn’t something we can do on our own.

So this is where the entire Rock Band community comes in to play.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen, and even said myself, “I would pay ANYTHING to get this song/band in the game!” That wasn’t just hyperbole (well at least not from me it wasn’t), and I hope others that have said it meant it as well.

We’re going to use Kickstarter to help get these songs into Rock Band. None of us can do this alone, but as a community we can pull together and get these songs into the game.

So here’s how it’s going to work. Each time we do this we’ll post the songs we’re going to license and how much we need for each batch. Not a penny more. We’re not doing this to make money, and as a matter of fact any profits we make from the sale of these tracks we’re going to funnel right back into this project by donating it to the kickstarter for the next batch of songs. Same if the kickstarter goes over the amount we need. Any amount above and beyond our goal will be rolled over into the next kickstarter and so on and so forth.

Not only that but we will be offering prizes for donations as well. Details are still being hammered out but you can expect something like this :

    • $10 – Limited edition TAG kickstart sticker
    • $20 – We’ll send you a private link to the song in progress that won’t be made available to the public. Plus all lower tier prizes before this one.
    • $30 – Limited edition TAG kickstarter shirt. Plus all lower tier prizes before this one.
    • $50 – Random signed CD from one of our TAG artists that has appeared as DLC. Plus all lower tier prizes before this one.
    • $100 – We’ll do an 11×17 inch drawing/poster of your personal Rock Band character. Plus all lower tier prizes before this one.
    • $250 – A one of a kind plushy made of your Rock Band character. Plus all lower tier prizes before this one.
    • $500 – Tag will write, record, author and release a song (genre of your choosing) all about you and how awesome you are into the Rock Band Network for you and all your friends to purchase. Plus all lower tier prizes before this one.
    • $1000 – You get to pick which artist/song we go after in the next round of licensing. Within the reasons that it is a well known enough song/artist that it fits in with the spirit of what we’re attempting here and other people would think this song/artist is big enough/known enough to want to pitch in to try and get it into the game. Plus all lower tier prizes before this one.

So that’s our big plan. Believe me if we at TAG could do this on our own without asking for ‘help’ from the community then we’d do it. However I feel strongly that this is a damn good idea on how to get these mid level bands and songs. I know that with as many music lovers that are a part of the RB community we can do this no problem.

It’s going to take a bit before we have all the T’s crossed and the I’s dotted before we can start the first one. We do have some very interesting things in the pipeline brewing. Now I can’t reveal song titles but to give you an idea of the types of bands we’re going after with this project (and REMEMBER like all things any band on this list could fall through at any part of the process.)

    • Red
    • Chevelle
    • Our Lady Peace
    • Weird Al
    • Warrant
    • Motley Crue
    • Autograph
    • Andrew W.K.
    • Bloodhound Gang
    • Scorpions

That’s just a small sample of the types of bands we’re talking with labels about bringing into the game. Once we know pricing for the licensing we’ll break them down and say this is the exact songs we’re licensing and this is the amount we’ll need to do so.

We had to get things rolling on this in advance as it takes an extremely long time to license music the traditional way. In the future we will use the data collected in the what’s your most wanted song, and what do you prefer in song choices threads we started here on the forums.

Of course things can and do fall apart at the last minute so we will do our damnedest to make sure that the songs we have listed for our kickstarter are the ones we deliver, but there’s always that small chance that we might have to substitute another song from that band or as a last resort another band/song from the next kickstarter that is planned.

And just for legal reasons I want everyone to know that this isn’t a Harmonix backed or sponsored initiative. I approached them for permission to do this, and they gave it to us, but they will have no hand in this at all.

Songs we do successfully license will run through the Rock Band Network pipeline just like all other tracks we work on. Then after 30 days they are eligible to port over to the PS3. Harmonix can NOT legally guarantee that any of the songs we are working on here will be ported to the PS3. However if you look at the types of songs that do get ported, and the types of songs you see ported to the PS3 you can probably draw your own conclusions that these songs will eventually port to the Sony side at some point.

I just wanted to say that I’m damn proud to be a part of this community the last four and a half years, and I’m glad that I can help give a little something back in the form of bringing you music and artists you’ve been enjoying from RBN and TAG. I really hope the labels and community embraces this initiative (and again it’s still a while out from getting started), and if this takes off then there is no limit to the amount of songs and artists we as a community can bring to Rock Band. This could be the first time in the history of a video game that the community as a whole has helped to shape and create the content and future of a major franchise.

I’m very excited about the potential this has, and I hope now that all of you know our plans that you are too.

As soon as we have some solid songs locked down we’ll get this crazy community driven experiment going!

[via RockBand.com]

133 Responses to “Proposed RBN Kickstarter Campaign to Pursue Major Label Artists”

  • Rockox says:

    I just wanted to share something related to this. Noble had posted this in the main Hair Metal thread on the RB site way back in August of 2010.

    “Just out of curiousity how many of you would pay to get hair metal in the game? I don’t mean pay for the DLC, I mean pay an x amount of dollars (one time thing) to get the ball rolling on getting as much hair metal as you’d like in the game?

    “I’ve got a crazy idea, that involves licensing (just like HMX does) and Rock Band Network. See there’s these bands that for whatever reason don’t seem to be high up on HMX’s to do list. It’s their game, they can do as they see fit so I don’t hold it against any of them.

    “Then you’ve got the Rock Band Network where artists can put in whatever songs they want, and charting companies can create said songs. However a lot of these older bands don’t have the rights to their original masters (and lets face it a Warrant 2010 version of Uncle Tom’s cabin wouldn’t be as kick ass as the original), and the labels that own most of the old masters don’t like the way RBN is set up so want nothing to do with it.

    “But what if a group of individuals who REALLY wanted a group of songs in the game (say for instance hair metal), got together, pooled their resources and licensed (yes just like HMX does) one of these coveted hair metal tracks from the label. The song then gets authored, goes on sale, and the sale of that track goes towards licensing the next most coveted track on the list, and so on and so forth.

    “I know it sounds crazy, and it could mean a sizeable upfront starting cost to get that initial track to get things going, but it sounds like a solid plan to me.”

    While we thought it was a great idea, most were weary about throwing down a ton of cash, especially since PS3 users get the short end of the stick when it comes to RBN. I’m just really glad to see his crazy idea possibly coming to fruition. Best of luck, Noble!

  • Braves22 says:

    Ok so it all sounds great in theory and got me to thinking this would be the absolute PERFECT way to release a bunch of band’s one hit wonders….and I’m sure those would be great gets for a lot of us…

    That said, I have been less than impressed with some of the off the way selections for RBN and really, how do I know that this will be any different and that everyone will have input in some shape or fashion that will allow us to put some popular fan vote into effect….with obviously those who spend getting precedence….

    And before you judge, I have about 900 DLC songs in my library and enjoy just about every genre of music from country to rock to hip hop….

    I just think like your tag line says…..getting those bands that could be well known but less fortunate into RB or those that like I said, had that one hit….

    I do like the idea someone had of starting with 90’s alt rock like Better Than Ezra Goo Goo Dolls and Toad the Wet Sprocket FWIW

    • Plainclothes Man says:

      I also like the idea of Alt 90’s songs. Would love 80’s one hit wonders too.

  • LoAlexandria says:

    Great Idea, but it focuses on XBox cuz its RBN. I would pay “anything” to get Stratovarius into …. PS3! … Rock Band. But as RBN is pro xbox, and they wont give us 100% dlc after 4 weeks ill skip. the idea itself is great, but i still dont like the RBN xbox fact

    • Plainclothes Man says:

      If it’s a big enough song it will find it’s way over to the PS3.

      • Toad3000 says:

        You know, I used to think that, but there were a lot of songs released on RBN 1.0 that broke that expectation. The We The Kings songs are a great example. Granted, they had a limited time to make the transition (which shouldn’t be the case going forward), but it’s a valid complaint.

  • Rafael Lange says:

    Well, this at least would in sort of a weird way drag HMX’s interest out of the curtain, wouldn’t it?

    Let’s imagine if the community started to move towards licensing songs for an specific group (Cake, for exemple), but Cake was already in HMX’s shortlist, thus blocking this particular initiative…

    Would be a funny way to unveil HMX’s plans for new DLCs in a medium term!

  • Dustinator says:

    Chevelle, Warrantand Motley Crue?!?! I’m in for at least $10 right now. Once they give us the specific songs, I’ll most likely donate more. EXcELLENT idea. Love it!!!