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Harmonix Widens Rock Band Network Beta Program

After several months in closed beta, the Rock Band Network is accepting registrations from the general public in advance of its full, official launch "in the near future."
After spending several months in closed beta, the Rock Band Network is accepting registrations from the general public in advance of its full launch "in the near future." The program, which allows users to independently create and sell playable Rock Band tracks through developer Harmonix's Xbox Live-based store, was announced last July and has been progressing slowly towards completion as Harmonix gradually increases its user base. Although anyone can join the Network beta now (with a $99 subscription to Microsoft's XNA Creators Club), tracks are still currently only sold to those in the beta program, not the public at large. This beta phase is likely the final test period. In a statement released today, Harmonix repeatedly indicates the full Rock Band Network Music Store is impending, using language like "soon-to-launch," "in the near future," and "at a later date." Individual songs will be be priced from $1 to $3, with artists receiving 30 percent of gross revenue. All songs will be available for the Xbox 360 versions of Rock Band and Rock Band 2, while "a selection of standout tracks" will make it to PlayStation 3 and Wii after a 30-day exclusivity window. Major-label bands like Creed and Evanescence, whose music is not available through the "first-party" Rock Band marketplace, are already working on tracks for the Rock Band Network, according to a Wall St. Journal report. Numerous recording and mixing firms are already offering to convert songs to the Rock Band format for anywhere from $500 a minute to $1000 a song, but Harmonix also provides the required software (some free, some paid) to create the tracks from its official site. "We are excited to democratize the Rock Band platform and expand the music discovery experience to the greater music community with the Rock Band Network,” said Harmonix CEO Alex Rigopulos. "We believe this will be great for fans, music lovers, bands and the music industry as a whole."

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