Social developer Newtracks recently debuted on Facebook with Bands, a game focused on making it in the music industry by combining rhythm, puzzle and strategy gameplay mechanics. You can read our review here, and we recently sat down with Newtracks Co-Founder and CPO Daniel Bock to talk about how Newtracks is hoping to change the face of music games with Bands.
Newtracks is a relatively young company, having recently been formed by Bock, CEO Roman Frank and CDO Norbert Haacks. The company’s three founders studied game design at university, with a particular focus on music games.
“We looked at music gaming as it was back in the game,” Bock says. “We all really enjoyed music games, but we always wondered why there wasn’t something out there with more than just rhythm gameplay.”
After graduating, the founders went to work for other developers while maintaining this as a side project. The primary concern the group encountered from prospective partners surrounded the complicated issue of music rights (it’s often notoriously difficult to work with various recording artists and labels, not to mention how there’s never any flat royalty rate). However, Universal Germany finally proved interested in working with Newtracks, so the founders decided to quit their day jobs and focus exclusively on developing Bands.
Following this move, Newtracks was able to secure a seed round of funding with $250,000 to get itself fully off the ground. The studio has a total of seven full-time employees at its Berlin headquarters, now, and Bock tells us the company is about to close a larger Series A round of funding.
At the moment, the game is still in its early stages. AppData shows Bands currently has 1,500 monthly active users. However, Newtracks is working on a number of new features that will raise both public awareness of the game and user monetization.
Bock explains that Facebook pages for musicians have the most users on the social network, but that Facebook fans are the most difficult group for these artists to monetize. Bands already provides users with the option to buy albums of the music being featured during play sessions, as well as the ability to visit a musician’s official Facebook page.
Bock tells us that, in the future, players will be able to purchase artist-branded virtual merchandise, which will drive some revenue towards the musicians. This will be the start of a symbiotic relationship between artists and Newtracks, as Facebook pages for participating musicians will link back to the Bands game.
Currently, Newtracks already has promotional deals locked into place with indie musicians, and we’re told they’re cementing the final details to work with a high-profile musicians (though Bock can’t say much about that yet). Another feature that is upcoming will be the ability for players to swap out band members for Facebook friends to create their own custom virtual band.
The other major development Newtracks is working on for Bands is a tablet version, which will be cross-platform compatible with the web build of the game. No specific date has been given for this version, but Bock tells us it won’t launch before this summer.