With today's release of Don McLean's "American Pie", Harmonix is ending its weekly releases of DLC songs for the Rock Band series.
The tale of the tape is astounding. 281 consecutive weekly releases, and over 130 million songs sold through the Rock Band store since 2007. In terms of cultural impact, its effect has been immeasurable.
I was late to the Rock Band party. My household had done Guitar Hero on the PS2, but I had downplayed that sort of thing when we moved to the 360 due to the fact that we lived in an apartment and we already did enough stuff that would annoy the neighbors. But I got a kickin' deal on a full The Beatles: Rock Band set, a couple extra mics, and the base Rock Band game. The rest, as they say, has been history.
The rhythm game genre in general, and Rock Band in particular, was instrumental in broadening my children's music base. Until they picked up their first plastic guitar, my kids referred to my CD rack as "The Crypt" because it was where music went to die. They wouldn't have touched anything in it for love or money. A few days after we got the game, my B.B. King CD was missing from its case, and before too long the wind was whistling through the empty slots.
It didn't hurt my horizons either. Having never been angry, young, or male, I'd sort of skipped over a lot of popular music. But having those there made me take a listen to things that I would never have heard if I'd had a choice. In many cases it simply confirmed that a particular piece or band wasn't for me, but I did find a few gems of my own.
A lot of people were worried at the outset that it would prevent kids from learning real instruments. My experience was the exact opposite. I know a now professional musician who got his start on my drum-set. Sitting down behind them at Youth Group one night took him up on the stage. He realized that he could not only listen to the music, he could make it himself. That struck a chord in him that has yet to fade away.
In many ways, it truly is the day the music died. But just as you can still go find Buddy Holly's work and enjoy it, Rock Band will still be cluttering up my living room with plastic instruments. The Rock Band Network isn't going away, and the over 4,000 songs already available in the catalog will still be there, ready to add to your collection.
As for me and mine, we are grateful for the way Harmonix has gone way beyond other companies in actively supporting their game for six years. We still get a great deal of mileage out of the game. I'm looking forward to see what Harmonix is going to get up to next.