We dig deep with Harmonix's Chris Rigopulos to find out about unannounced DLC artists, how many songs have been downloaded in Rock Band's history, and why we won't see Rock Band 4 in 2011.

Harmonix has seen a lot of interesting shake-ups in the last year. Between their separation from MTV Games to the extinction of Rock Band's nearest rival, Guitar Hero, the music game market is quite different than it was just a few months ago.

How has Rock Band survived while some of its rivals have not? One of the biggest features that sets the Rock Band franchise apart from other video games is the extensive nature of its downloadable content. We were curious to learn more about exactly how much DLC plays into Harmonix's overall business strategy for Rock Band, so we asked Chris Rigopulos to help clarify several issues. Along the way, we found out a number of unannounced upcoming artists, how many individual accounts have downloaded Rock Band DLC, and the number of songs that have been downloaded to date. Hint: It's a lot.

Who are you and what do you work on related to the Rock Band franchise?

I’m Chris Rigopulos, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development for Harmonix. As Harmonix has transitioned back to being an independent studio, I’ve assumed responsibility for our music industry partnerships and for managing our digital publishing business, including Rock Band downloadable content.

Since Harmonix parted ways with MTV Games, has there been a change in how you approach DLC? With new DLC, does MTV or Viacom still get a cut of the profits? How about with DLC that was released prior to the sale of Harmonix?

At this point, we’ve effectively severed all ties with MTV, and all proceeds from Rock Band belong to Harmonix. In terms of our DLC approach, it was a collaborative effort between Harmonix and MTV. The bulk of the music we released in early 2011 was actually selected and put into the pipeline late last year before the sale. Now we’re going it alone, and fans will be getting their first glimpse this month at some of the music that the independent Harmonix has been working to bring to Rock Band. I don’t expect any dramatic changes to how we select music – well, I doubt you will see any more SpongeBob SquarePants packs.

Who are some of the unannounced artists we’ll see coming to Rock Band 3 in the coming months? Are there any new artists that haven’t been in the game before? Any returning favorites?

We have an amazing lineup of DLC scheduled for May, including new tracks from the Foo Fighters, Lady Gaga, and Ozzy Osbourne. First up, the Foo Fighters continue to add to their legacy with the release of their new album Wasting Light, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 last week. On May 10, we’ll release a pack of their music, as well as two Pro Guitar/Bass upgrades to songs from the Rock Band catalog. I am a huge fan, and I’m looking forward to Tuesday. We will have all the details on Ozzy, Lady Gaga and more coming soon.

Among these artists coming to the game, what songs, albums, or song packs are you most excited about?

That’s really tough. I’m pretty excited about the entire May slate. Ozzy. Foo Fighters. Lady Gaga. All are Day One purchases for me. But I should mention that tucked in among these amazing May releases is a classic Peter Frampton track - “Do You Feel Like We Do” from Frampton Comes Alive. It’s this epic 13-minute jam with some blistering keys, brilliant guitar playing, and of course, the signature talk-box guitar effect. This masterpiece will pummel you, wear you down, but ultimately leave you begging for more. I can’t wait! Plus, it’s a great value on a dollars-per-minute basis.

Next up: How many songs have been downloaded by Rock Band 3 users?