Hmmm, kids seem to like Serato. Perhaps this is important technology. Makoto & Deeizm MC at Zerwick, Munich. Photo: AREALFAKE.

Serato announced yesterday that they’ll be joining Ableton in a “creative partnership.” It’s not too hard to parse what this means from the announcement, which notes that Ableton Live’s strength is production and real-time remixing and beats, and Serato Scratch Live is about digital vinyl control, library management, and scratching. (Or, to say it even more simply: Serato is built around digital vinyl metaphors, and Live around remixable digital clips.)

Serato and Ableton announce a creative partnership [Serato News]
Ableton and Serato to work together []

In fact, Ableton CEO Gerhard Behles spells out what this will mean fairly explicitly:

“Ableton and Serato take different approaches to modern musical performance”

Okay, so, Ableton fans worried that Live is going to just become a DJ tool, or Serato lovers who don’t want Scratch Live assimilated into Ableton, fear not.

Ableton has never had an answer for the DJ who wants vinyl control, and rather than try to emulate what Serato do so well, we simply make sure that our products work well together.

Got that? We hear DJs regularly complain about Ableton Live, that there’s not proper scratching control over waveforms, that you can’t see more than one audio waveform (“deck”) at one time, that it lacks vinyl control, and so on. But obviously, at least some of those metaphors don’t jive terribly well with Live’s clean, signature interface, which wasn’t built to do these things in a traditional way.

Sounds to me like the most likely result is some kind of Serato deck that runs inside Ableton. I feel safe in speculating about this because I haven’t heard anything from Ableton about this. And there’s cause for that, as well, as many Ableton Live users do Live PA, laptop sets with Live, and then turn elsewhere (often to Serato, if not to rival Traktor) for more conventional DJ sets. Regardless, those of you who could care less about conventional DJ features are likely to find this comforting news: Ableton probably isn’t going to muck around with your software to graft them in.

I think this could amp up the NI – Ableton rivalry; Native’s DJ division has been further beefing up their Traktor Scratch options. This comes right on the heels of NI’s own Traktor Scratch Pro offerings, but since I’ll be in Berlin by this time tomorrow and that’s a released product, I expect to talk to NI directly about that. (Of course, I’m horribly biased in that I’d personally rather hear sets with people doing strange things with Live and Reaktor, but that’s me.)

That said, clearly only Serato and not Native could partnership with Ableton, because Serato had “Live” in the name of their product. (Perhaps that was an early sign of Ableton envy?)

All of this probably reminds some of you of another strategic Ableton partnership, with Cycling ’74, makers of Max/MSP. When announced some time ago, the expectation was that some product would come of that. We haven’t seen that product yet, but sometimes these relationships take time to bear fruit. I wonder.

Incidentally, what gets us most excited about Serato round these parts? Visual vinyl. See the Create Digital Motion hands-on review.

Updated: I should add, it is possible to add DJ capabilities to Live now by using a DJ host that functions in plug-in mode, as a couple of commenters note. Pinko’s Max/MSP-based “Pinky Pluggo” is one option; another is Image Line’s Deckadance. Both allow you to do vinyl control, too; Deckadance will work with any controller. I’m particularly fond of Deckadance’s absurd-sounding effects, which I think could add the sort of digital grunge to a DJ set or loop that will appeal to a lot of the Ableton-using crowd. And these sorts of tools are shipping now.

But of course, we really have no idea what it is exactly that Ableton and Serato are planning, whether it’ll be a new Live instrument or some other form of integration.

  • gbsr

    im pretty confident that it will result in a new contorller running its own live edition.

    seeing how nothing happened on the live front on the cycling74 partnership (god knows it happened on the other side though, have you seen the new max5 interface?) i wont keep my hopes up.

  • 7oi

    I wonder how many more strategic ableton will participate in before we'll actually see some interesting fruits from them…
    Still waiting for more news on the cycling '74 one. This one? Not so interesting for me…

  • Filch

    GBSR – I don't think it's that "nothing happened" on the cycling74, but they are still working on it. Their announcement came just before Live 7 was released, no time at all to co-develop for that. We are almost at the year mark since 7 was released which likely means 8 is just around the corner. I have a feeling we'll see some fruit from that partnership on that release.

  • @GBSR: I'm with Filch. Basically, we haven't seen a discrete, finished product hit the market. That doesn't mean there hasn't been any work done, just that we haven't seen it as a separate product.

    But yes, I think everyone knows my bias is toward new and different ways of working with music, and with live performance / live PA more than DJing. That said, I get why people want these features. And I'd rather see Serato and Ableton work with each other than stretch too far out of their own competencies.

  • mmm
    i am using mspinky`s VST Pinky Pluggo in ableton live and it rocks

  • gbsr

    well yeah, personally im interested to see what will come of this. i was referring to the fact that the only thing weve seen (sofar) from the partnership with cycling74 is nothing on the live front, whereas maxmsp has a brand new interface with alof of live similarities, so the partnership seems to be in their favor, rather then the live community.

    nonetheless, id rather see them working together then against each other ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • I was just talking to a friend about how I wish serato could utilize live's tempo mapping to play live recordings on locked BPM through serato…that would be awesome and open up a big world of music for djs who don't want to import/beatmap and re-export mp3s….
    a serato pluggin in live would be really f'in dope too…
    What if it could use the serato signal for a midi controler signal? check and Mate!

  • harold cornea

    Yawn! That was one of the most boring and least informative press releases ever. I mean, tell me when you've come up with something cool guys… until then, don't waste my eyes.
    Do you know one of those people who constantly talks up something that they might do, but haven't actually done yet, and in fact probably won't ever do? Ableton, you have a good product, don't turn into the company equivalent of those irritating jerks.
    In my personal opinion, digital vinyl use is becoming increasingly anachronistic. With the explosion of alternative controllers, you have to ask, why? Still, someone must be buying or there wouldn't be so many of these systems on the marketplace… but I think it's going backwards for Ableton to bother.
    By the way, Peter well done for keeping the paymasters happy and inserting a Native Instruments mention into a piece that has nothing to do with N.I. whatsoever!

  • @Harold: You know, honestly, I don't know what to think until it comes out. I do find it curious that in this case, as in the previous case, they made the partnership public before there was anything to announce.

    The digital vinyl thing remains a specific market. I mean, it was theoretically anachronistic to begin with (even more so if you look at it as, broadly, "that's not what turntables are for.")

    But jeez, man, lighten up. I mentioned Traktor Scratch Pro because the new version came out *yesterday*. It's the major rival to Serato, there's been a long-time rivalry between Berlin software developers NI and Ableton (early predecessors to Live were even developed as Reaktor patches), and this is likely to deepen that rivalry. Not only that, but have a look at the Musicradar piece — they made exactly the same connection that I did.

    Also, I'm going to run into execs from both Ableton and NI in the next few days; I think we may get them crossed at a party. It's a good thing they generally get along … well, unless I feed them a bunch of beer and get them to start an Ableton vs. NI brawl, which would be pretty damned cool.

    But "nothing to do with NI whatsoever"? I mean, yeah, nothing aside from this setting up a rivalry with their product. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    As you know, I generally stay out of any pronouncement on DJ tools because it's really not my area. But I always find it interesting to watch, and I find it interesting to watch the competition … just as I've found it interesting on this site to note what's happening with lesser-known tools like Deckadance (whose odd, digitally-grungy effects I really love) and open source tools like Terminator X and Mixxx.

    When I endorse something, you'll know. It'll be, "I love Live 7's Tension so much I'm at home all night licking my screen" or "my partner just left me because I spent too much time patching in Pd." I'm more than happy to wear my biases on my sleeve and let other people disagree with them, truly. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Bham ster

    Interesting but not a "game changer"
    Deckadance can be used as a plug in in Live or any other VST host…

  • couldn't this also be just something simple to help with ableton's time stretching. Serato did make pitch n' time.

    also I'd love to see an ableton vs NI brawl.

  • I personally am stoked to hear this. I am a dj and a producer and I have for a very long time been very interested in playing my own tracks live (as in improvising composition and tweaking knobs) along side normal vinyl, pre-rendered tracks or whatever rocks. I don't see why I should not be able to throw in a sketch I made half an hour ago into my set of electro classics on vinyl (or cassette :D).
    With Live 7's push-pull feature it became possible for the first time to actually mix a Live track into a dj mix, but the controller side has been a bit uninspirational for me yet. Sure there's a lot of controllers (also for dj'ing) out there, just didn't really find one I felt good about, coming from a vinyl background. (Incidently I ended up making one with a Super Nintendo Joypad and an Arduino Diecimilla – probably the furthest from vinyl I could get, but it works like a dream.)
    If this new collaboration means Live gets a means to use vinyl to control the transport aspects of the track (start/stop, tempo, push-pull) it would be *awesome*. Can you not imagine what this will create a whole subculture of dj-artists who play everything they can get their hands on and mash it up on the fly.
    I'm stoked!

  • the other option is the Reaktor plugin that Synth Patel created…BUT why this is beautiful marriage is because Serato's low overhead of CPU/Memory is unrivaled right now. Those programmers in New Zealand know how to code!

  • No mention of Torq here? I'm a Torq user and I'll put in my bid for it as equal to (or better than) Serato. Especially when the 1.5 comes out in January, this is something you should all check out if you spin digital Vinyl.

    Torq 1.5 Preview:

  • coolout

    Where's the talk about Torq in all this?

    It already has Rewire, supports vst effects, has a Ableton inspired interface, and midi control mapping (right click almost anything on screen, twiddle controller, DONE).

    Supposedly whenever version 1.5 comes out you'll be able to send out midi clock (and Rewire) with external control.

  • Yeah, agreed — Torq is well worth mentioning. I'd say it's a big candidate, especially as far as integrating control vinyl (whereas Deckadance, Mixxx assuming you'll BYOand choose). The Torq pricing is, of course, extremely aggressive. I suppose part of what it tells you is that — "anachronistic" or not — this area is growing. (or at least it was when they made their forecasts and went this route)

    It's also interesting to note that as these mature, what we're getting is plug-in support (in Torq, Deckadance), more advanced MIDI features (in Traktor Pro), and the like — they're almost becoming DJ hosts. So that makes this Ableton "announcement" — if vague — at least intriguing.

  • d00d

    No wonder people are getting frustrated with Ableton. They keep their userbase guessing, but rarely give any real details of what lies ahead. And as for vinyl and Serato – YAWN. Where did it all go wrong Abes?

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  • meatshake

    Serato used to make a Pro Tools-only plug-in, "Scratch" before they made the "Scratch Live" product with Rane… It was a neat tool within the DAW environment- it worked great. it's too bad they didn't keep it around and make VST/AU versions.. Why they made only an RTAS version is beyond me- even back then, Pro Tools was just about the last thing you'd want to bring to a club etc..

  • gilbert

    I cant see any area in which NI and Ableton have to be rivals. Live is now a choice of production for many and live performance tool for musicians from a variety of styles whereas Traktor's focus is on being a traditional dj environment with innovation by every upgrade.
    For their different approach to live performance, I dont see a rivalry here. At least some djs bring two laptops, one Live and the other Traktor installed, on stage. My expectation was that Live-NI would collaborate to develop creative ways of using these two softwares together without limits that djs have to tackle themselves. For Ableton, it would be more beneficial to provide a way of using Live with other dj environments not only Serato.
    Ableton announced a collaborative partnership with Cycling'74 before, brought Analog, Tension, and Electric with AAS, and now Serato but there are many people using Live with software synthesizers from NI on production and Live together with Reaktor or Traktor as I mentioned before so it would be great to see these two software companies from Berlin collaborate together to provide integrated solutions to musicians and djs.

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  • prevolt

    I don't understand what makes a turntable anachronistic. That's just skewed. I'd call a piano anachronistic first if you wanted to start talking that way. A turntable with crossfader is the most nimble and nuanced editing instrument you can get a hold of.

    And I really love the Rane/Serato approach to being super-serious about making "professional" software and hardware because it's so in depth, all the way down to the white papers on the website and random things like that.

    This may not affect the Rane/Serato version of Scratch Live that much, though. I know they said after Itch (or whatever it's called) was announced that Scratch Live wouldn't get a beatmatching feature. But the whole thing could get done on the Ableton side. They could start using Rane's control message format and automap to the ttm57 as a control surface. Then you could add up to 2 video-capable Scratch Live instruments into your liveset. Maybe Ableton can get permission to use Serato's color-coded & 3-band waveforms.

    I switched from DJing in Live to Serato after Video SL came out. I'm really looking forward to hearing what they've got planned.

  • This is good news for those of us who want there to be more of clear winner in the digital DJing world. As an early adopter of Torq, I know that holding your breath for M-Audio to get its act together is not worth the lower price point it offers. The promised features are attractive, however, the actual product doesn't deliver professional usability or reliability IMO. Serato and Ableton working together gives you the seemingly unlimited creative functionality of Ableton a partner that has suceeded in taking the computer into the club without having to change the entire game. I guess what I'm saying is that DJing doesn't lose it's history and artistic legitimacy with Serato, and with Ableton the amazing creative possibilities are of little use when all the common club goer sees is a guy checking his email, or possibly playing with some sort of video game controller while trying to look cool. If they get it right, there might just be a way to get out from behind the laptop, perform your creative magic, and look cool for to the hipsters without having to completely reinvent the DJ, the tools, or the experience.

  • I certainly didn't see this infusion coming to Live!

    It'll be interesting to see how they do it, but if they ape the ammobox concept without giving me credit I'll be sad.

  • Where is the monkey god?

    Use your kowledge to make Ms. Pinky midi out!
    The tools are there…

    Get to the people which they want!


  • KTb4Gu comment1 ,

  • News about mspinky maxmsp object integration with maxforlive:


    Work is done. I still need a Job.

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