Jam Party

Meredith Cannon

Bringing music to the masses, Zivix LLC is a small startup company in Minneapolis with big aspirations, including a new video game release and other interesting plans to capitalize on the Guitar Hero craze by taking the genre somewhere further.

Founded in 2006 by Dan Sullivan, Zivix was built on the idea of a real electric guitar that could be used to play Guitar Hero, Rockband, and other music games.  The digital guitar is tentatively named, “Heromaker.”  While in development with the guitar, an idea for a companion piece of software came about, and, “Jam Party” was born.  According to software architect Matt Cannon, “Jam Party is a new type of music software that allows users to create music on the fly without requiring a musical background or experience.”

Not only can owners of the Heromaker guitar use Jam Party to get a background beat going and play over it with real guitar, anyone with a guitar controller can use it with the software to create their own music.  Jam Party aims to bring music creation and performance to both gamers and non-musicians alike. With a unique system of audio playback, the software allows users to interactively choose from sets of music loops that have been designed to work together in a musically interesting but consistent way.

Users are given a musical palette which they are free to navigate however they choose; they can layer sounds to create their own unique music as soon as they pick up the controller. They’ll be able to record and share their songs, create their own loop sets in studio mode, and download new content from an online store to add to their music library.

Jam Party is not solely a music application or genuine “game” experience. Vice President Chad Koehler said, “You can create music- but it is more accurate to call it a complete audio visual journey featuring game-like progression, un-lockable content, a career profile and ever-expanding content. Though we do not grade the player by achieving a high score,  they continually progress unlocking access to more content which will evolve them on how to use Jam Party to its fullest potential.”

The music content is another key feature that many are curious about. Sullivan said, “We have contracted with a number of local music producers to create the content. We will have a large variety of musical styles and sound effects.” They plan to offer content from well known artists and musicians as things progress through their online store and future game releases.

With Garage Band and other music creation tools already available, Jam Party will improve what’s already out there. There are a lot of other ‘music creation’ applications, but the distinguishing feature we have is that you can create in an interactive and live context. You can then save your performance and share it, said founder and President Dan Sullivan,Jam Party allows you to create “on the fly” music, which can constantly change and evolve.  With a few button presses and strums, you can mix various genres, such as techno drums with hip-hop vocals and add in a classical violin.”

Koehler added, “Guitar Hero and Rockband proved that gaming with music sells, but stops short in allowing the consumer to actually have control over the musical accompaniment. This is the first game that combines both dynamic audio and visual live mixing in a simple to use yet challenging to master package.”

Although the game is meant for all to enjoy, it is targeted towards college age and younger.  Koehler said, “12-25 is most likely our initial sweet spot, but if we are able to effectively use social media to expand this message I believe the Jam Party experience has a much broader demographic appeal especially as we add a broad mix of downloadable content to the Jam Party website. There will be a genre, a theme, and a style to suit everyone!” Great musical content paired with a dynamic 3D environment synced to the audio will give users an exciting new way to be creative and interact with music.

With all of the excitement about this new game, many are wondering when they can purchase the game. Cannon said, “Digital downloads for PC are expected in May, with wider release and more music available on the store shelves later this summer.  The game will reach Xbox Live later this year.”

After Jam Party is released, Zivix will still be working hard on enhancements for their product. “Users can come to our website and download additional songs/music,” said Cannon. “As our guitar hardware becomes available, we will have special releases that allow more musical options and learning tools.”

The game is sure to appeal to non-music players and musicians alike.  Chad Koehler said, “It (Jam Party) makes you feel good while allowing the non-musician to do something they have never done—Jam a guitar riff, kick in the drums and turn it up. It’s your own creation.”