One of this past week’s highlights at the Electronic Entertainment Expo was Activision’s Guitar Hero Live, the latest entry in the music/rhythm series. Attendees and journalists alike got their opportunity to go hands-on with the new guitar being designed for the game, as well as the many songs that will be included with it, including Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Higher Ground” and Kongos’ “Come With Me Now,” among dozens of others.

But there’s a unique social aspect that will play a key part in the game’s advertising once it gets closer to its fall release – Guitar Hero TV. Initially announced with the game back in April, GHTV, one of the game’s two primary modes, enables players to compete with one another through live competition, while at the same time discovering new songs through a variety of channels – a “try before you buy” approach that lets players go hands-on with tunes before making choices on which ones they want to buy.

With that, consumers are provided a choice. There’s an option to buy songs via real money, a strategy similar to previously released games in the series. However, there’s also an “on-demand” service. As players strum through Guitar Hero Live, they’ll earn credits that can be turned around for songs to request on-the-fly to play along with friends, in case they don’t feel like owning it permanently.

The service will feature “hundreds” of songs, as promised by the company, with more continuously being added to Guitar Hero‘s store following the game’s initial release.

“It looks like a really slick channel guide that you would see on TV, with ‘what’s coming up next’ rows,” said CEO Eric Hirshberg, speaking with Mashable during the game’s announcement. “You’re gonna be able to click on that, join a show in progress, join a song in progress, play it instantly. And then play that stream, ongoing, for as long as you like. And then if you don’t like something, you can switch to a different channel.”

He continued, “The shows are all genre-centric, so there could be a show called ‘Current Pop Hits’, there could be a show called ‘Best Guitar Songs of All Time’, there could be a ‘Best From Coachella’ mash-up.”

This presents a number of opportunities, particularly with certain record companies to step in and contribute concert footage and shows from established and up-and-coming artists to what the developers call premium content. Premium content is earned through completing in-game challenges. Popular rock band Avenged Sevenfold has already signed on, providing bonus premium content free of charge to those that pre-order the game.

Other companies could step up as well with “sponsored” content, although Activision hasn’t confirmed this feature just yet. The possibility is certainly there, though, especially considering that the publisher just announced a deal where users could get an exclusive Destiny quest by purchasing specially marked Red Bull products.

So what does this mean for Guitar Hero fans Honestly, it seems like the best of both worlds. On the one hand, players can compete with one another in real time on the channel, competing for top performance score. On the other, the always-on network with continually updated songs is a great way to see what jams fit players best, whether it’s something from Green Day or from more contemporary artists like The Avett Brothers.

We’ll see how this social angle plays out when Guitar Hero Live rocks the masses on October 20th for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and Wii U, as well as select mobile platforms. The debut trailer is below.