Pezzner plays the Savoy Room at MUTEK. Photo (CC) basic_sounds.

Remix contests are all the rage lately, but quality is another thing altogether. I’m happy CDM is involved in a new contest with Dancetracks, however, because the ingredients of a contest that’s worth your time all all there.

First off, Seattle-based [Dave] Pezzner on freefrange is an artist worth noting. He’s a talented producer, has a great sense of sound, as has moved from commercial and television sound and music into being a breakout dance artist – something to which many CDM readers may aspire. He’s assembled just the kind of smart track we like:

Valldemossa was inspired initially by a tape recording I found of a boys choir recorded circa 1982, which was piped through an analog tape delay. The ending result of this tape recording was outstanding and left me with a gold mine of sounds to pick from. I built this song using a handful of my favorite tools, FL Studio, Ableton Live, Native Instruments Battery, Reaktor, D16 Phocyon, some sounds from the Mellotron M400 tape banks, Klanglabs Stompbud collection and Mixed in Key (as well as some keen direction from master and chief, Jimpster). Feel free to let loose and let your inner artist speak loudly. We’re excited to hear what you do!

Dancetracks Pezzner Valldemossa Remix Contest

Many contests claim they get you exposure, of course; it’s another thing to deliver. The winner of the Dirtybird Records Dancetracks contest last year, as covered on CDM, managed to net a deal for an EP with that Claude VonStroke-run label.

Of course, dangling promises of exposure and record deals is one thing – let’s talk loot. In this contest, the winning release (ultimately determined by the label) is a sure thing, along with other goodies:

Winning remix released digitally on Freerange, featured on Dancetracks
Dubspot NYC Professional Mixing & Mastering session ($1095) with private mixdown session*
Ableton Live 8
M-Audio CX5 Studiophile monitors
M-Audio Pro Tools M-Powerd 8
M-Audio Torque Conectiv
Glyph Technologies PortaGig 800 professional harddrive
Cluster Sound 20 Gigabytes of sounds
MONO Producer bag
$100 download credit on Dancetracks
Freerange t-shirt
Dancetracks t-shirt

Nor is Dancetracks just using this as an easy way to cash in — pre-warped stems for Ableton Live (or plain audio for everything else) are a free download.

The contest ends August 31.

Pezzner Valldemossa Remix

Help Us Choose CDM’s Pick

If you do happen to enter, let us know here on CDM, as I’ll also offer a CDM Editor’s Choice Award to my favorite track. I know this musical genre is not everyone’s cup of tea, so I’ll be listening for something really unique and further out, and will make sure your work gets properly exposed. I sadly can’t offer lavish prizes, but I will have a dancetracks shirt and $50 certificate for you – plus coverage we like to think is priceless.

If you’ve entered something already, just send us a link. If not, let us know when you have.

Pezzner at MUTEK, also by basic_sounds. Does anyone know who did the lovely visuals for this set?

When Remix Contests Go Bad

So, I’m just here pimping dancetracks, right? No, I went through those points carefully only to emphasize that most remix contests get this formula horribly, horribly wrong. And that’s a shame – this shouldn’t be rocket science. Cool track and artist + free download of stems + rich prize package + actual exposure = working remix contest. This should be a doable thing.

So, how is it that the formula often becomes variations of random track you want to shill + paid stem download as a quick cash earner + cheap prizes + exposure that’s anyone’s guess? As our friend Dave Dri – himself both a successful recorded (and performing) artist and musical journalist — puts it:

What is disappointing is the increasing frequency of major labels and their “independent” imprints in creating prize-less or obscene remix competitions, under the premise of “helping up-and-comers”. The fact is that a remixer can simply message or email another producer or label and offer their services with a great deal of success.

So where is the appeal of remix competitions that offer little in the way of an actual prize? Or having to purchase the remix parts from Beatport? Just where does “up-and-coming” translate to “exploitable”?

Check out the whole article for a no-BS take on remixing in general – remixing as business, and not just supposed remix culture.

Life at The Terminal with Dave Dri [Time Off, Australia]

I’m sure some will disagree with his take, so feel free to debate the merits of the argument in comments. But it is worth asking – maybe even about dancetracks’ contest, too; I’m happy to hear constructive criticism.

A thing for the sake of the thing tends to be useless. Remix contests can be a total waste of time – or they can be a powerful tool. But then, you can’t blame labels alone. It’s up to artists, too, to make the right call.