Thread: Song Selection FAQ | Forums

  1. #1
    DanAmrich's Avatar Rocksmith Dev Team
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    Song Selection FAQ

    SONG REQUEST & SELECTION FAQ

    We get a lot of questions about how songs are chosen to appear in Rocksmith or as Rocksmith DLC. Thankfully, we have a lot of detailed answers! The infographic posted by the UbiBlog may answer some of your questions, but we wanted to offer a deeper dive for those of you who may have more specific queries.

    Q: How do I request a song?

    Our Request a Song app lives at our official website. You can find it at http://rocksmith.com/requests. You can access it via a desktop computer or a mobile device. All you need is a Ubisoft Club account to use it – and if you might already have one. If not, it’s free and offers various in-game rewards. Go grab yours.

    Some tips on using the request page, which make it easier for your request to be counted:
    - Be specific in your requests. Please don’t write “all” in the song field, as that doesn’t really help us get what you really want. Pick out your actual favorite songs by your favorite artists.
    - Check the spelling of the band and the song. Your request might be lost if you don’t spell it correctly. You can always check the artist’s official website to be sure, or the track listing on the album itself. Our app will automatically suggest the correct spellings.
    - If an artist is joined by a guest, like “Band (featuring Artist),” just write the name of the main band.
    - Request just one song per field. You can request multiple songs, but put each one in separately.
    - Similarly, don’t write anything beyond the name of the artist or the name of the song – if you add little editorial comments, a YouTube URL, album name, the name of a movie where you heard that song, or extra spaces, that messes up our search. It’s read by humans, but sorted by computers! So we’ll find it from just the name.
    - If you aren't sure if you've already requested a song already, try it -- the page will let you know if you've already suggested that one. No harm, no foul, and your original request still counts!

    Q: I asked for a song on the forums. Doesn’t that vote count?

    Not really. Somebody might happen to see it and make a mental note that somebody asked for something, but there’s no way to quantify it, and there’s no record of it. There’s just no way to keep up with all the requests that people make in forums and comments – it’s just too messy. We built the Rocksmith.com request page as a way to keep things neat and tidy. When we sit down to discuss what songs to pursue for DLC, we’ll be looking at the tally from the request page, and that’s how we’ll gauge the popularity of a song or artist among our online community.

    Q: If I request for the same song multiple times, does it count as multiple requests?

    No, sorry. Our updated request page will actually prevent this from happening, since each request is tied to a specific user. However, in our older system, people did try this, and it was easy to tell when a person is stuffing the ballot box. Those duplicates were filtered out, so one authentic vote is a much better use of your time than 400 votes for the same song from the same person (and yes, that’s happened).

    Q: Why hasn’t my request been put into the game?

    We absolutely want to hear what you think and what you want, but unfortunately, we can’t always honor every request.

    First off, we get a LOT of requests -- 70,000 in 2016 alone. And we get them from our official page, in Facebook comments, in our forums, and on other people’s forums. There’s just no way for us to add every single song that anybody anywhere has ever requested.

    Even if we had the bandwidth to put all those requests in the game, we’re limited by the fact that we have to have permission to use the songs. Getting permission is a more complicated process than you might assume; it’s not just a question of asking the artist. To use a song, we have to secure rights from multiple entities. If any one of them says no, we can’t do it. So, we request songs all the time, but we don’t always get permission to put those songs in the game.

    It’s best to think of the Request a Song app as a suggestion box rather than a vending machine. Your input helps us focus on getting specific songs, but we can’t guarantee your favorite song will make it into the game.

    Q: Why don’t some artists let you use their music?

    It could be a combination of things, but the most common factors are:

    - There’s some legal or licensing issue that hasn’t been resolved
    - The master track isn’t available
    - We can’t reach a financial agreement
    - They’re just not interested in Rocksmith

    We love it when fans see that last one and say “How could that possibly be true?!” By all means, if you feel like telling your favorite artist "Hey, I'd love to play your music in Rocksmith” through fan channels, that’d be great. The artist may not agree, of course, but it’s worth a shot.

    Q: What happens when an artist says no? Can you ask again?

    Yes, we can and we do. We generally take “no” to mean “not right now.” We regularly return to rights holders and re-request material to see if they’re more interested later on. This has paid off, as artists who at one time were not interested later granted permission when we came calling a second or third time. We're professional and polite, but persistent.

    Q: So which artists have said no? If you tell me, I’ll stop asking for them.

    We don’t think this would be a very good idea. As much as we’d love to give you all a clearer sense of the state of play, there’s a real risk of damaging the possibility of future negotiations with the artists. If they don’t think they can talk to us without us publicly shouting “Hey everybody, this artist doesn’t want to work with us!” they’re not going to want to sit down with us to discuss an arrangement in the future. We’re always hopeful that reluctant bands might decide to become involved eventually, so we want to be on friendly terms when that day arrives.

    Q: Why can’t you just put whatever we want in the game?

    The rights to those songs belong to other people, so we can’t use the songs without permission – specifically, a license.

    Q: I keep hearing about “licensing.” What is that? How does music licensing work?

    When a person writes a song, they instantly own the copyright to that song. If four people in a band write a song together, they might all own the songwriting copyright together, in equal parts. If and when the band records that song, the record label generally becomes the owner of that recording. So a license is essentially a business deal that grants us permission to use both the song and/or the recording of that song – and since we typically use the original recordings in Rocksmith, we need both licenses. Some artists sell their copyright to other people; some master recordings change hands the same way. So it can get very complicated, and it’s not always a one-stop-shopping arrangement -- but unless we get all the correct licenses, there’s no permission and no DLC.

    For a much more detailed explanation of how music licensing works, you might find this article interesting.

    Q: Why can’t you be more responsive to the community’s song requests in real time?

    Getting a song into the game is a time-consuming process. The release of a DLC song is the end of a process that takes several months. Once we’ve determined that we’d like to put a particular song in the game, the first step is to request permission through our licensing team. Once the requests have been made, there’s not a lot we can do. We may get a yes or we may get a no, but usually we don’t hear anything at all for a while. We just wait for an answer.

    Eventually, something will clear. After that we wait to receive official assets. We can’t use just any recording; we have to use the official audio given to us by the license holder. We also have to use the official album art and lyrics they supply. We might have to wait a while for these too; it could be days, weeks, or months. If we need to make any alterations to the official assets for any reason, we have to request permission for those changes, and the waiting game begins again.

    Once they’ve cleared and we have official assets, we can start building the notetracks for them. This is also a time-consuming process. Rocksmith notetracks are extremely complex, and our quality standards are very high. It can take anywhere from a week to three weeks to fully notetrack a song, depending on its length and complexity. You can read more about that process in our Notetracking FAQ.

    Long story short, the turnaround time for putting a song into the game is long, and there’s no way to have our fans vote for next week’s DLC or to react to requests in real time… it just takes too long to get the songs and put them in the game. But if you make requests through our website's request page, you can have an impact on what songs make it into the game down the road.

    Q: Why do you sometimes release similar things (same genre or same era) over a short time period?

    This is largely due to the unpredictability of the music licensing process. We don’t know what’s going to clear or when. Sometimes we have several cleared songs to choose from, and that gives us flexibility in our schedule. However, if all the songs that have cleared happened to be from the same decade or from the same genre, then our options are to release those songs or to put out nothing.

    This is pretty rare, because we plan these things out so far in advance, but we’ve had instances where a planned DLC release had to be pulled at the last minute for reasons we won’t go into. In that case, again, our options are to release what we have ready to go or release nothing. So we release what we have, even if it might be from a similar era or genre from another recent DLC release.

    Having said that, the material we release is always released with confidence. We never release anything we consider sub-standard just because it’s available. We only request music that we think will be instructive and fun to play, even if it doesn’t fit every single player’s personal taste. That’s something we can never dictate!

    Q: What makes the team think a given song is worth putting out at all?

    There are several factors, which we generally ask ourselves in the form of questions:
    Is it suitable for the game?

    We have to be confident that the song will work well in the game in order to pursue it. First, it needs to have enough guitar parts that are interesting to play. Those guitar parts need to be fun and varied and interesting enough for guitarists of wide-ranging abilities. We try to avoid any special effects or uncommon techniques that can’t be represented using our interface. We also need to be sure that there aren’t any weird audio or tuning issues that will cause us any problems.

    Is there an audience for it?

    There’s no point in investing the resources to acquire a song and put it in the game if we don’t think anybody wants to play that song. We look at the number of official requests for the artist or song, culled through our website's request page. We also look at the performance of similar artists and songs we’ve released – have similar songs sold well or did they tank? We then look at the demographic make-up of our DLC purchasing audience (which, contrary to popular belief, isn’t identical to the profile of our active online fanbase on our forums and Facebook page). We also use a few other metrics that we’ve found to be pretty good predictors a given DLC’s popularity. Then we temper all of that with our own subjective sense of how the material will go over, with maybe just a tiny smidge of our own personal taste thrown in -- because we’re rebels, and we play the game too.

    Are the license holders willing?

    If we can’t get the rights to a song, no matter how much we might want it, no matter how much our fans say they’re willing to pay, no matter how perfect it is for the game, no matter how glaring an omission it might seem…we can’t use it. Without permission, we are unable to bring that song to the game. End of story.

    Can we afford it?

    Some license holders are only willing to give us permission to use their songs if we’re willing to pay a premium. The fellas with the green visors have crunched the numbers, and they’ve told us what we can afford to spend on songs and stay in business. Budgets are realities for all game developers, and we are no exception. We’re making a game that teaches people how to play a real guitar – how cool is that? Let’s stay in business so we can keep feeding our families while working on this awesome thing.

    Q: What prevents us from releasing things that seem like they’d be perfect?

    Either we haven’t gotten the rights yet, can’t afford the asking price, or just haven’t gotten around to it yet. We’ve always got more songs in the works and more ideas for songs beyond that, so that perfection may yet be achieved.

    Q: Why do you release unpopular, bad music? Wouldn’t popular, good music sell better?

    Musical taste is strongly personal and entirely subjective. Different people are inspired by completely different music -- even among our team, people’s tastes vary pretty widely. So “good” music versus “bad” music isn’t something we put much weight on, because it’s essentially meaningless for our purposes.

    What we can factor in, however, is popularity – from YouTube plays to Billboard chart positions, we’ve got data that shows how popular one song is over another. We need to be confident that the DLC we release will have an audience that wants it -- and it does. Quite frequently, music perceived to be extremely unpopular actually performs quite well for us. The best way you can help us out on that front is to use our website's request page to let us know specifically which songs and artists you’re interested in seeing in Rocksmith in the future.
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  2. #2
    Steel_Nirvana's Avatar Senior Member
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    Last one FTW! Why isn't more of my music in the game?!
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  3. #3
    rcole_sooner's Avatar Moderator
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    Great post!

    Maybe we should sticky this?
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    jgrantham7's Avatar Senior Member
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    Great work!

    Thanks, Dan and the rest of the team!
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    DanAmrich's Avatar Rocksmith Dev Team
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    Originally Posted by rcole_sooner Go to original post
    Great post!

    Maybe we should sticky this?
    That's the plan, but I wanted to let it breathe as a regular topic first.

    Everybody will want to check out the UbiBlog shortly for something else fun on this topic.
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    elemenohpenc's Avatar Senior Member
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    Originally Posted by DanAmrich Go to original post
    That's the plan, but I wanted to let it breathe as a regular topic first.

    Everybody will want to check out the UbiBlog shortly for something else fun on this topic.
    http://blog.ubi.com/rocksmith-2014-song-request/

    it was already posted cool little infographic.



    surprised to see that Bullet For My Valentine was in the top 40 requested bands.
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  7. #7
    toymachinesh's Avatar Senior Member
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    >Surprised to see BFMV

    I'm not, that's one of the most requested bands among 15 year olds for all music games
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    AlloysiusGrunt's Avatar Senior Member
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    Fascinating! Thanks for all the info!
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  9. #9
    This definitely goes above and beyond what a vendor needs to provide its customers, and I appreciate it. Thank you, Dan. It also explains why The Moody Blues are not in the top 40 requested bands; the polling period was from Spring of 2013 until Spring of 2014, and I didn't start requesting until Spring of 2014.
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  10. #10
    Nice work, really fun to read and a lot of information in it.
    Thanks for giving us an idea how the team works on DLCs and how it comes to the release. And of course how difficult it is to get all the licensing works.

    Also interesting to know which bands are the most requested.
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