After 45 hours of work over six weeks, my song is one of the 118 approved to be in the RBN Store when it launches. My last article laid out what it takes to get your song in the game, namely a deep skill set and lots of time. While I managed to clock in well under my 60-80 hour estimate, I had a considerable head start. I’d already messed around with Reaper, my stems were ready to go, I’d played through most of Rock Band 1 and 2 on all instruments, and my Xbox 360 was already networked to my studio computer. Plus, I’ve been a full-time mastering engineer for twelve years and a computer geek all my life. Even so, without the expert guidance of the folks at creators.rockband.com, my song never would’ve made it through the pipeline. They are a wonderful group of people – true professionals in every sense of the word.
Knowing what I know now, would I do it again? Probably not. Here’s why:
- The authoring guidelines are rules, not suggestions. I mistakenly counted on some wiggle room. I figured if the parts made sense and felt right to play, they’d be acceptable. Not so. For example, on medium difficulty, green-blue chords are not allowed. There can be no kicks or snares between right hand time keeping gems, period. There are lots of rules, not all of them intuitive. Personally, I think that’s a good thing. My initial concern that amateurs would flood the store with flawed product was unfounded.
- Playtesting others’ songs can take as long as authoring your own. Authoring is a collaborative process. It takes me about an hour to playtest a song completely, on all instruments at all difficulty levels. You might need a dozen playtests to prepare your song for peer review, so you should plan to do at least that many for others. It’s not just a goodwill gesture. If you don’t actively contribute to the community, nobody will touch your songs.
- Hiring a professional is affordable. If you’re willing to share the royalties with an authoring company, your upfront cost can be as low as zero. There are plenty of companies eager to chart your song, with a variety of pricing structures.
- Professionals do a better job. Authoring is both an art and a science, and experience matters. No two companies will chart the same song the same way. Check out the expert previews on YouTube and you’ll spot considerable variation. It’s not easy to capture the magic of a real live performance.
Currently, Noble Rhythm is charting another one of my songs. They’ll take half the royalties, but no money up front. Obviously they’re a lot more optimistic about my sales potential than I am!
Brian Hazard is a recording artist with fifteen years of experience promoting his seven Color Theory albums. His Passive Promotion blog emphasizes “set it and forget it” methods of music promotion. Brian is also the head mastering engineer and owner of Resonance Mastering in Huntington Beach, California.