Bringing back the Remix

This article originally appeared on A blog I created about music technology.

I can listen to music all day and have various creative thoughts but its not until I actually play myself that my ideas come together. Tonight I picked up my guitar while feeling uninspired and 10 minutes later I had a new riff and a solid idea for a web service for musicians.

Too often musicians find themselves stuck at a point where they either don’t have time to play with other people or simply can’t find the right people to adhere to their style. With the availability of inexpensive recording equipment for computers and the simplicity of recording programs, musicians can post a track online they recorded minutes after it’s finished being rendered into an mp3. Where as 10 years ago, 6 months after an artist went into the studio you would finally hear their tracks. Why not create a service where people can collaborate their music in the “cloud”?

For example, I lay down a 30 second guitar riff that I enjoy but I have lost all creative energy to continue the riff that I started. I go to this online music service, upload my riff and await for submissions of people adding on to it. I have the ability to accept the addition, add it as a maybe, or just flat deny it. As the first uploader, you act as the decision maker as to what you add to the original piece. Then you leave the maybes accessible to other artists to see if they can add something to make the maybes come to fruition. After this process goes on for a period of time, you have a full song. Once the song is done, all of the registered users who added on to the song are credited for the piece. Then the song is then served up for download on the site which the song writers then receive royalties from each song they participate in.

With bands like Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead releasing their material in separate tracks which allows other people to remix the tracks however they wish, this could also evolve into a remix service for established artists. A lot of new technology has surfaced recently that allows for mixing of tracks through web interfaces which will eventually allow users to manipulate tracks solely through the web. Although the power of software such as Pro Tools is a long way away from approaching the web, I could see people getting highly interested in recreating others tracks simply by adjusting timing, volume, pitch, and tempo. Once the tracks are remixed, if people enjoy the remix and download it, then the user gets a small piece of royalties and the rest will go to the artist.

In the next 10 years, it would be amazing if musicians could collaborate live over the internet but until then this would be a step in the right direction. One of the best indie releases in the past 10 years was done through a collaboration of sending tracks back and forth online, The Postal Service. Programmers do it, people remote in to the office everyday, why shouldn’t artists be next? I’m surprised Adobe hasn’t released an interactive feature of their software suite that allows for live collaboration. With all of the recent online music infused start ups, I haven’t seen one that is trying to cater to tapping into all of these social networks of musicians and their friends that play music as well but live in different areas of the world. This would be a perfect way to break out into this area.

25 September 2008