Web world for music fans hopes to gain following

March 17, 2009 By BARBARA ORTUTAY , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- Music fans who want to mix games and social networking while listening to songs on the Internet now have a site called Loudcrowd, created in part by developers behind "Rock Band" and "Guitar Hero."

The site is to make its public debut Tuesday at the South By Southwest Festival, an annual gathering for , film and new media fans and insiders in Austin, Texas.

Dan Ogles, one of its co-founders, hails from Harmonix - the video developer behind "Rock Band" as well as "" before that game's development was transferred to another studio.

With Loudcrowd, he said, "we were trying to take the experience of `Guitar Hero' and make that more social," beyond the living room to the Internet, where people are spending more and more of their social lives.

"I have always been interested in finding new ways to experience and interact with music and games, which is what attracted me to Harmonix," said Ogles, 27.

Users signing in to Loudcrowd can play music-centered Flash games to win music tracks and avatar outfits. The games are reminiscent of "Guitar Hero" or "Dance Dance Revolution"; in one, for example, players use the mouse to roll over dots as they pop up on a turntable.

Players can also interact with friends and strangers by having their avatars "dance" for them or challenge them to games - sort of like an online dance club. The soundtrack for all this on a recent try was upbeat indie dance music from artists like Kid Sister, and Santogold.

Loudcrowd is free to use and doesn't carry ads. The site plans to make money through selling virtual goods, such as avatar accessories and songs for use on the site.

The recording labels working with Loudcrowd at launch include the Beggars Group, home to Matador Records, 4AD and Rough Trade, among others.

Nabeel Hyatt, the chief executive of Conduit Labs, the company behind Loudcrowd, likened the site to "the collective experience of attending a concert with friends." It is geared toward the college-aged bunch. In Loudcrowd's private beta run, it mostly attracted people aged 16 to 26, the majority of them female.

On the Net: http://www.loudcrowd.com

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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