Sunday, March 21, 2010

First Impressions of the Rock Band Network

So, the Rock Band Network has been out for a while now, but I haven't really had a chance to mess around with it too much. However, I recently popped in that copy of Rock Band 2 and decided to take a look. I must say, it's quite impressive.

The RBN is located in the "Music Store" menu as a separate item, letting you easily sepearte the official Harmonix releases from the releases on the Rock Band Network. Once you get into the RBN store, it's sorted a little differently than the main store is. You have a few options here, "Top 10" which gives you the top 10 highest rated songs, "Harmonix Picks" which gives you a select number of songs Harmonix liked and hand-picked for that week, "Browse" which lets you simply sift through all of the songs, and "Random Song" if you'd like to be surprised.

If you choose Browse, there's gonna be a bunch of extra ways you can go through all the songs. by Artist, by Author (The user who charted the song), by Label, by Genre, by Language (yes, there are foreign-language songs on the network), by Title, or by Rating.

The sorting is obviously very deep, and will allow you to find any song on the network you are specifically looking for very quickly. It also seems to be built to handle thousands upon thousands of songs, which makes sense if the network becomes popular enough. At the time of this writing, there have been 168 songs released on the Network, which is quite impressive for only having been out one month.

One of the best parts of the Rock Band Network is the ability to download free Demo versions of songs. When I first heard about this, I was wondering exactly how it'd work, but it's actually quite smart. You download the demo-version, you're unable to use it in Tour Mode, Practice Mode, or Online. The only way you can play it is in Solo or Band quick-play. You can play it as many times as you like, however, you can only play through the first 30 seconds of the song, and it'll cut off and go to a "Demo Over" screen, complete with a "Buy Now" option.

This seems really effective in making people want to throw down their cash right away to finish the song. It also gives people a chance to see how well-charted the song is, and gives them a little bit more to listen to of the song than the initial preview-track at the Store-level.

Another great thing about the Rock Band Network is the support it's getting from artists. I've seen a few big-name artists on here such as Drowning Pool, Bang Camaro, Senses Fail, Third-Eye Blind, All That Remains, KMFDM, and probobly the biggest name so far, Steve Vai! I've also found out about a few unknown artists that I personally really enjoy such as DNA's Evolution with their track "The Heist" and The Hold Steady with their track "Sequestered in Memphis".

Overall, there's some great music in the Rock Band Network, and it seems like it'll keep expanding and growing larger. Maybe someday soon we'll see day-and-date Rock Band Network releases with Artist's releases on itunes or other music download services.

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