A social game to pick pop hits could finally kill the A&R man

[UK] Forget farming or being a gangster, a new Facebook game from London-based music store theBizmo, lets users play the role of record label A&R person. And in the process of doing so, help promote and sell tracks by real artists.

Players of Hit Or Not compete with each other to predict the popularity of tracks from a catologue of independent artists. After picking from a range of musical genres, users are asked to listen to and rate tracks. They then earn points based on how closely their judgment resembles the average across all other players of the game from which they receive a “Hit Spotting” rank.

Throughout the process, and in Farmville fashion, users also earn virtual cash that they can use to sign and bribe other artists and “various other nefarious music biz activities”. And perhaps more fun still, if the songs that a user “signs” rank well with other users, and therefore rise on the Hit or Not genre charts, they can sell those tracks to make a virtual profit.

It’s not all about virtual cash, however, the artists themselves can earn real money. An MP3 download of each track is available for purchase, with artists keeping around 70 percent of the retail price.

All music used in Hit or Not comes from from the 10,000+ independent artists currently using theBizmo’s microstore widget (see our previous coverage), and the company has high hopes for the game. CEO David Gjester describes Hit Or Not as a “trojan horse” designed to put music back on the radar of Facebook users.

“There is all this fantastic independent music out there looking for an audience, but the audiences are not looking or listening”, he says. Hit Or Not aims to change this.

The social game is currently only available for Facebook, though an iPhone and MySpace version is in the works.