The Future Of Downloads Is Multi-Track

At least that's what I think      28/12/08
During the holiday season one finds that more time than usual is spent putting the world to rights with fellow journalists at various watering holes in the name of festivity. Nursing my own delicate condition this morning, I reflect back on last night's ramblings and recall an interesting discussion on the future of digital downloads, talking as we were of the marvels of the impending release of Celemony Melodyne DNA and all that it will do to change the way people manipulate audio, we got on to remixes and multi-track downloads and things of that nature. It got me thinking, what would happen if multi-tracks were made available of all currently down-loadable songs and charged at a premium. I mean, how much would you pay to get the latest Britney bits, a Motown classic, or the latest floor filler? The additional revenue to an ailing industry would certainly be most welcome wouldn't it? And, if anyone actually created a new monster hit, the original artist and writers would get their royalties through publishing and mechanicals too. So far, several bands have made their own parts available, see Nine Inch Nails and the like as free downloads, but a few DJ mix sites have offered the full mix and the option to purchase the parts also. Prices range from 6.99 to 9.99 per multi-track, so its conceivable that we may see the the arrival of an an album priced at $100 – in multi-track form. Who amongst us might not enjoy, digging around in a multi-track of our favourite artist's album, or from a producer you admire? What are the advantages?
Well imagine, extra sales to DJs, who could create their own custom drops and breakdowns or mash-ups using Traktor, Ableton Live or whatever. This is in fact an area where it is already happening. Or, making consumer bundles available to GarageBand or FruityLoops users and or other mass music creation software - Christmas hits minus vocals for the family sing-a-long anyone? Perhaps, buying a friend the complete album of multi-tracks from Led Zeppelin, or in my case a Trevor Horn produced masterpiece as a boxed set with accompanying session track sheets or notes would be a product I'd be interested in. There's something quite exciting about opening up a multi-track from a classic tune, there's stuff in there that no ones heard possibly since the track was mixed. You get to see how the original producer put the parts together, and sometimes, just pushing up the faders gives you the record right there - it's like digging for treasure. And the downsides?
Some purists might argue that putting this kind of material out there cheapens the memory of our classic musical heritage, and I guess in some cases that might happen, although as a music buying public, we're often compelled to push the crassest sample based tunes to the top of the charts with little compunction – actually, I'm struggling to find a glaring international culprit, but in the UK Sugababes sample Ernie K. Doe's Here Come The Girls, while in the US T.I Featuring Rhianna, seems to have shortened the requisite sampling recycling principle using the Euro-tastic "Dragostea din tei" by the Moldovan pop group O-Zone , better known as Numa Numa Song made infamous by Gary Brolsma on Youtube. As an aside, just how long will it be before there are two tracks in the charts sampling each other? - Or maybe its already happened... Perhaps I overestimate the potential market for this kind of thing, but I dunno, anything that acts as an additional way of earning a crust for many musicians or labels struggling in these times must surely be worth looking at? Nick Batt


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9 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
orbitalstream    Said...

This is interesting, and very forwarding thinking article on the subject.

Its obviously an additional revenue stream to be had,but are the artists, or producers and labels willing to share? I mean, like all content, it would get ripped, but i think the independently minded artists should take a look at real world studios you can sign up and download multi-tracks from there, i mean imagine radiohead doing the same? Hard to say about the complexities of ownership, original protools sessions, production notes, producer talk through of the session, engineers commentary kind of package, i mean would we pay £100 to get all that for "the bends" as an example ... i could be tempted to treat myself :)

I personally find it very interesting know how a kit was mic'd on a track, how the engineer achieved that reverse reverb effect on the vox and so on so forth, adding the clean multi-track as well for remixing would be very good for all wannabe producers/engineers out there and there loads of them.

29-Dec-08 01:01 AM

Nick B    Said...

I think that's the big question. Ultimately, the artist will have no choice if that format becomes prevalent for their genre, I mean I doubt if Perry Como or Chris de Burg will need to make multis available to compete.

I think one thing that will need to ba addressed is the issue of the players on the recordings and ropyalties for them, this format wont have been explicitly mentioned in the original agreements I would think. Maybe fees will have to be readjusted or some kind of scaled payments invented to accommodate the possibility of the players work spawning more hits

29-Dec-08 05:31 AM

Matthias Orgler    Said...

This sounds very much like the idea of "open music" I worked out in a paper at my university. "open music" just like "open source" in software could become a new business model for the industry. music would no longer be produced by a handful of people, but by thousands in collaboration - great opportunities for advancing music culture and expanding markets.

30-Dec-08 04:29 AM

Velocipede    Said...

I think it is a nice idea, Nick, and could certainly generate some $¢¥£ among fans and musicians. I'd like to drop the vocals and reduce the compression on a lot of tunes.

31-Dec-08 01:26 AM

glow-shester    Said...

Highly overrated idea that doesn't take in consideration the various laws of copyright and authorships. As in most non common law country it is enough to cover the 7 notes out of the 8 notes of a theme, i don't see why people will suddenly turn to official samples rather than cover.

Even more, i think the "multitrack" idea is against creation rather than in favor, mainly because of the general attitude of the music industry major companies. When a sample can be paid several millions depending on the popularity of such and uch artist, i don't think the music industry would suddenly abandon those revenues.

The multitrack thing seems really a marketing concept...

31-Dec-08 05:25 AM

Nick Vendel    Said...

This is a Really good idea. If I could to to Itunes and download the baseline to billie Jean and the drum track from a David Bowie track and import into Ableton Live... Cool. If iTunes created a free multitrack player with beat match and "direct note access" technolgy then this would me a new web 3.0 era.

02-Jan-09 04:15 AM

Nick B    Said...

Glow, I think you have a point there, since writing this article, I've been looking at v`arious sample recreation services who charge a reasonable amount for recreation of difficult to clear or expensive snippets for use in new records.

The main obstacle to clearing the original samples is usually administrational - eg there's not time to track it all down and pay for it, or cost. Generally, the record company will recieve 50% of the sample clearance fee as it owns the recording.

One area where this is being used more is advertising, the track can cost $100ks to license for a worldwide sync, whereas, recreating means only the publisher would have to get paid, decreasing the possible fee by up to 50% or more.

05-Jan-09 07:01 AM

Basil St. Cecil    Said...

It's a pants-wettingly exciting idea, no doubt, but I think it's an idea that excites only a very small niche market . . . too small for the music industry to bother with, let alone re-adjust their entire approach for.

Also, I think most artists wouldn't go for it. Remixes are one thing, but what you're proposing, given today's technology, would enable anybody with the know-how to basically completely rewrite songs. And I think it would take very, very little time for people to come up with much better versions of the songs that are on the charts now.

Things would get too blurry. People wouldn't be asking "Have you heard the new U2 album?", but "Have you heard the new Larry Smendrick U2 album?".

On the flipside, polishing a turd would now be possible.

And personally, I would love the challenge of trying to make Coldplay listenable.

12-Jan-09 08:24 AM

DAS    Said...

I don't really see Major Record Labels embracing this idea of giving away multi-tracks, because they always want complete control over everything that they sign or publish. However for indie artists, this could be a very big promo advantage.

Give you a cheesy, but valid example, take Soldier Boy with his "Superman" track that got extensive hits on YouTube and drove him to international fame.

Hey personally I hate that song. But just imagine how many more young people would be interested in him if they new that he did that track in something like Reason, FL Studio, or Live, and he gave you the actual project session for you to do whatever you like with it!

Say what you want, but one of the things that every aspiring music producer or engineer has always dreamed of is to be able to look at an actual PT project for a favorite artist/album and finally get an "understanding" of how the "pros" do things. Plenty of people wouldn't mind paying an extra $20 or more for something like that.

I think it's a brilliant marketing technique if used correctly.

17-Jan-09 08:28 PM

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