music tech

Sub Pop’s founder launched a fun music remixing app

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Democracy in the age of the Internet of Things

Okay, this is actually pretty cool. I’ve only been playing around with it a bit, but I can definitely see it becoming addicting — particularly if the service’s creators can bring more musicians on board. As it stands right now, 8Stem’s collection of remix-able music is fairly limited — perhaps not surprising for a service that only launched out of beta today. I found a handful artists whose names (but not songs) I recognized and went to town.

The service is the brainchild of Bruce Pavitt, who founded the ridiculously influential indie rock label Sub Pop in the mid-80s — and, his bio will happily inform you, helped discover both Nirvana and Soundgarden not too long after.

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8Stem is an extremely slick mobile app for iOS that turns remixing into a simple drag and drop process. Find a song you like (Seattle-based Merge signee Telekinesis jumped out at me), click Remix This, and the app will lay it out, broken down into wave forms and sections. You can reorder song segments, record vocals, switch between mixes and add delays. Granted, it’s not a full editing suite by any stretch of the imagination, but the company has managed to jam a lot into the app, particularly given the limited real estate of the iPhone.

You can save your mix for posterity and, once you’re done, upload it to the app’s built-in social network. I have to admit, I haven’t mastered the effects aspect of the system, but the straightforward real-time remixing bit is pretty fun and intuitive.

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Perhaps most interestingly of all, finished remixes can be uploaded to services like Spotify and Apple Music, with royalties from plays going to the artists. As most casual music fans are well aware at this point, streaming royalties generally amount to peanuts, but money’s money, I guess.

And speaking of modest rewards, the service will also be opening up a contest tomorrow where the winning remixer will have their version of a song played on Seattle-based public radio station KEXP.

The song selections are pretty limited (there’s only one in the Dubstep category for example), but if the app gains enough traction, it could manage to build up a pretty vibrant community. In the meantime, it’s a pretty fun little tool.