Rock Band Network beta begins today

Create, share, sell your own songs.

Harmonix has confirmed today's opening of the Rock Band Network beta - the service that will allow anyone to create, share and even sell their own songs for the game.

This will only be available on Xbox 360 to begin with as Microsoft has been a key partner in realising the service. However, PS3 support is part of the larger plan.

The announcement comes by way of a Wall Street Journal report, a date in which was later confirmed by a Harmonix member of staff.

The Rock Band website will therefore be offline between 5pm and 10pm GMT. Once the service reappears you'll need to create a new user profile for the Network or merge your existing details with it. And Harmonix notes that there may be some teething problems, so be patient.

"[Today's] update marks the beginning of open beta. Throughout the last few months, I've been continually impressed with all of your participation and cooperation. I deeply appreciate your patience, humour, intelligence and effort," wrote Harmonix developer "HMXMister_Game".

"I know that you will welcome all the new members with the same helpful attitude that has gotten us thus far. I've said this before, but I'll say it again: you guys should be proud of the community you have built.

"Thank you. Tomorrow is a brand new day."

Harmonix hopes unsigned bands will share and sell music on the Rock Band Network. But there are hurdles to overcome, such as a complicated preparation procedure for each song.

Outsourcing this task to specialists will cost, and with songs priced between $0.99 and $2.99, a band must be confident of sales to take the plunge. For those reasons, the Rock Band Network may be dominated by established acts and bands to begin with.

Sub Pop, a US music label, will offer 25 artists including the Shins, Flight of the Conchords and Mudhoney. Sub Pop was Nirvana's label once upon a time.

"At $3 a piece nobody's looking to Rock Band as a discovery tool," Tony Kiewel, Sub Pop bigwig, predicted to the Wall Street Journal. "That's not going to happen."

Give it a try. Let us know what you think.

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