It’s amazing that, even today, relatively few artists release stems when they want to encourage remixes. A new remix contest with The Martin Brothers’ new track “Dum,” on the Dirtybird label, goes further, by providing not only individual stems, but a full-blown Ableton Live set, completely with warping parameters and even some plug-in inserts. That should mean just about anyone can pick up the track and start remixing – and, of course, Live is a big hit with the remix scene. It’s not the first time we’ve seen this, but coming from Dancetracks Digital, which has made a big impact with its Live-ready downloads, you can expect a friendly set to get you started.

Of course, this is likely to create some truly awful remixes, since it’s actually so easy to do it’s even easier to do something terrible. (That includes me, having fiddled with the set for a few minutes. I’ll have to get back to it to do something not bad.) On the other hand, by taking some of the drudge work out of the task and making it really easy to do a mediocre mix, I think this could – ironically – make it even more clear when a remix is done right and stands out above the crowd.

Interestingly, roughly the same week Ableton are backing DTD and Martin Bros., Digidesign is pushing its new Transfuser product – an electronica and remix-friendly instrument for Pro Tools – with The Crystal Method and Remix Magazine. They are offering stems, but they’re not pre-loading a Transfuser set as DTD is doing with Ableton Live:

Remixing Pro Tools: The Crystal Method Contest

You know who Chemical Brothers and The Crystal Method are. But the cast of characters in the “Dum” contest is worth watching.

Dancetracks Digital has attracted the likes of Danny Tenaglia and Francois K as a kind of boutique alternative to online heavyweight Beatport. The label, Dirtybird, is the creation of DJ Claude VonStroke and has put out his “Who’s Afraid of Detroit?” as well as the debut “Deep Throat.” The latter sold 11,000 copies, which wouldn’t mean anything — except that that’s 21st Century sales of vinyl. The label knows something about how what works on the dance floor, so appropriately enough label founder warns would-be contest participants, “Please don’t bother turning in your big room electro house remix. I want to hear some sweaty ass-jiggling tracks.”

I think I’m going to start admonishing readers to come up with “sweaty nerd, pocket protector-busting I.D.M.”

The track is clever stuff … particularly once the brothers start scat-singing into the mic (hence “Dum.”) But you think you can make it better? That’s the idea. Here’s a sample:

"Dum" Track Excerpt

Possible rewards: exposure (embed-ready players containing submitted remix tracks, and a label looking for new talent), software, music gear, swag, downloads, and even a mixing and mastering session here in NYC.

CDM is working with DTD on the contest, so I hope to provide some insight into the remix scene, Ableton Live, and how labels like Dirtybird tick. Stay tuned.

Dirtybird Remix Contest

And yes, unfortunately, this isn’t Creative Commons-licensed. With the exception of a few, CC-specific labels, even independent labels haven’t yet embraced open licenses. The challenges and opportunities there are a topic for another story.