Can Stems Finally Make Multi-channel DJ Audio a Standard?

The path forward is clear: there’s no reason in this age of digital producing and DJing that music needs to be stereo. The need is there, but so far, not the solution. A file format announced in a press briefing at Miami’s Winter Music Conference and made public today wants to succeed where others failed. It’s called Stems, and there are a few details that make it different. It’s simple. “Stems” – the format – include four tracks. So that could be bass, drums, melody, vocal, for instance. (Or bagpipe, castrati chorus, tambourines, and banjo. But the point is, dividing …


Robin Thicke Judgment: The Day Copyright Law Died, Again [Opinion]

You may not like the song “Blurred Lines” much. But if you find that tune grating, you may find the inability of US copyright law to differentiate degrees of copying even more painful. Here’s the latest strangeness. When we last joined the American courts finding extreme interpretations of copyright, an appeals court decided to blow away the de minimis doctrine for sampling. That’s “de minimis” (Latin), as in “size matters not” (um… Yoda). The idea was, there was no need to measure the significance or size of a sample in the N.W.A. song “100 Miles and Runnin’.” The court helpfully …


On the Eve of New 808 Film, Techno’s Roots Matter More Than Ever [Videos]

If rock music had the Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster, hip hop and dance music have the TR-808. And if its sound seems sometimes overly familiar, even that is in some sense a hat-tip (pardon the pun) to its enduring ubiquity. Now, the Roland TR-808 gets its own full-length documentary, told primarily through the eyes of the people who repurposed its idiosyncratic sound to spin new musical genres and start a revolution. The film features extensive input from Arthur Baker, who acts as a centerpiece for the movie. Baker was the producer behind Afrika Bambaataa’s ‘Planet Rock,’ a record …

This has never ever happened before with Apple. Well, except all those times it happened before. Photo (CC-BY) Marcin Wichary.

Why MacBook Pro Users Need Not Worry About the New MacBook

If you’re a music maker, a DJ, or anyone working with creative audio and video, you care about connectivity so you can do your job – rightfully so. So, if that has you freaked out by the strange “all-new MacBook,” let me the first person to tell you: relax. You don’t want it, but you don’t have to lose sleep over it. It seems Apple yesterday introduced a new product tier. Apple has done that before, creating different categories for their computers to serve different markets. (It’s what has turned them into a hugely profitable company.) You may still prefer …


The Clue to Apple’s MacBook Revisions is the Word “Pro”

Yes, Apple is today talking about wristwatches. But judging by those glowing logos I see absolutely everywhere all the time, it’s probably MacBooks that matter to you music creating folk. Apple today has three items of computer news: 1. They’re introducing a new, 12″ display model called the “all-new MacBook” (note that exact wording). 2. They’re updating the 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display. 3. They’re updating the MacBook Air. (There are no changes to the 15″ model, but these revisions have historically been staggered.) With Apple, nomenclature is everything. It’s been a while since Apple called anything “MacBook” without …


No Longer Invisible: Images of Women Working with Music Technology

Coinciding with International Womens’ Day, advocacy group and networking platform Female Pressure yesterday launched themselves on Tumblr. In a stream of photos, they’ve been sharing images of female-identified artists engaged in process with music creation technology. (Some randomly-selected images are here; see the rest via the link below.) The images alone are a humbling and inspiring for me, just because I see so many familiar faces – friends and artists that have been personal role models for my work, including in moments of personal struggle as an artist and writer. The idea, say Female Pressure, was partly a response to …


How Does Novation’s Launchpad Pro Stack Up Against Ableton Push?

One of last month’s more predictable NAMM announcements was, at long last, an update to Novation’s Launchpad line that adds RGB color support and pressure sensitivity. But that means that it’s easier to compare the new Launchpad Pro with the spendier (but also more powerful) Ableton Push. It’s been a few years since the original Launchpad first commercialized the “grid performance instrument” concept popularized by the monome. Since then, we’ve seen Novation’s LEDs get brighter and the body get slimmer, plus the welcome addition of class-compliant support (opening up iOS and Linux compatibility and driverless operation). But the Launchpad itself …


Moog’s Historic Big Modulars Return – You Say You Want a Resurrection?

Synthesizers are now old enough to become “classics,” to have a canonical form – much like the Steinway D in pianos or the Stradivarius violin. So, that leaves us a choice: do we make something new, even if fashioned out of the old, or do we reissue the historical instrument as it originally was? Answer: all of the above. At NAMM this week, I expect you can find representatives from the whole spectrum between past and future. But the company that more than any other has defined what it means to be a “classic” is now setting their time machine …


This Crazy Polish Video Sums Up Why We Want a KORG ARP Odyssey

Analog synthesizers are superior because of their pristine, high-fidelit — Oh, f*** it, who are we kidding? We want to wail on an ARP Odyssey with ridiculous modulation that turns it into a groovy, angry space alien, and then film it on VHS interspersed with some car chase, just because. Someone in Krakow, Poland agrees, and the video above is what happened. I’m going to defend the ARP Odyssey remake. Reader reactions clearly show this is a favorite. And the video reveals why: the Odyssey captures some of the ridiculously, wonderfully diverse noises of the ARP 2600 in a keyboard. …


This Movie Clip Sums Up the SFX-Beatport Vision of the Future of Dance Music

Synergy. That’s the direction you can expect from Beatport and SFX Entertainment. And the speech above from the film In Good Company more or less fits. (The plot of that 2004 movie even includes an acquisition by a conglomerate.) Basically, SFX may have solved the problem of how to make money in the streaming business – by making its money elsewhere. Or, it seems that’s the plan. Here’s the problem: music streaming has razor-thin margins versus sales. The artists and labels eek out fairly small bits of change, generally. They can blame the streaming services, but with those services having …