bowie

Since the summer (or earlier), you’ve been hearing that online streaming service SoundCloud would partner with big content makers. But noticeably absent was any official announcement of a label.

Well, a huge chunk of that picture just came together. SoundCloud and Warner Music Group today announced that they had inked a new partnership. The WMG announcement is huge – the global music conglomerate is just shy of 42% of worldwide market share. They’re the major among majors, the biggest US label, and the biggest publisher.

Oddly, many in the press jumped the gun on this announcement, claiming Warner had made a deal with SoundCloud before it evidently actually happened. But this is that deal, and it has big implications.

And if you think you don’t listen to Warner Music Group releases, you either have extraordinarily obscure tastes, or you’re just wrong. Their labels range from Nonesuch to Atlantic to Rhino, apart from things with “Warner” in them. (Full list below.) It even includes the Bowie record above – I know; it was the top hit on Rhino’s site today.

There were actually two announcements today. We knew as of summer that SoundCloud planned a subscription service not only for people uploading music, but those who just want to listen ad-free as advertisements start to appear on the service. But we only know now when that will happen – in the “first half of 2015.” Now, SoundCloud not only confirmed that subscription to CDM at the time, but also told us that they were investigating the ability for paid upload subscribers (like you, probably) to avoid ads. No additional information is available on that yet, but I don’t think there’s yet reason for panic – there just aren’t a lot of ads on the service yet to want to avoid.

So, what does this mean?

On_SoundCloud Continue reading »

If you’ve ever ordered sushi from one of those rotating belts, you’ll love this musical hack that takes it to an entirely new place. For Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) Tokyo, Native Instruments engineers teamed up with Just Blaze and Tokimonsta to turn a sushi restaurant into a live electronic remix instrument.

And these aren’t tricks – slick as the music video at top my appear. They really did use a combination of cameras and software to make colored plates into a working interface for music.

RBMA produced a video that shows some of what’s going on behind the scenes, below. But we weren’t satisfied until we knew the specifics – after all, we’d love to see more unique musical interfaces around the world. So, CDM talked to developers Bram de Jong and Michael Hlatky of Native Instruments to find out more. And you might learn something you can apply – or get a bit hungry for fish, depending. Michael answers.

The answers get tasty, indeed: we learn everything from how the camera “sees” the plates using their original software to how Maschine acts as a controller for sushi-triggered Ableton Live.

IMG_20141017_134128678 Continue reading »

push_inuse_9

In live electronic music, the endless free expanse of the computer screen tends to run up against the limited ability of your brain to tell just which freakin’ track am I on, anyway? In the studio, it can be annoying. Live onstage, it can be train wreck-inducing.

Ableton Live’s Session View has for years exacerbated this problem. You can limit your options to eight (or even four) tracks. But that doesn’t always work. You might need more than eight tracks for particular routings of audio or MIDI. And unless you use Device Racks and chains, you’ll also need extra tracks to switch instruments.

Launchsync is a solution to that problem. Instead of all of your controllers going their own way and controlling different parts of Live separately, they can now move in tandem. So, rather than doing scrolling on multiple devices and squinting at the screen to see where the heck you are, you can navigate on one controller and everything else follows.

Use cases:
1. One Ring to Rule Them All. Have every grid controller assigned to the same block of clips, and move around together (one clip at a time, or “paging” in bigger groups).
2. A Wider or Taller Grid. Make a bigger grid. For instance, a Push and a Launchpad, or two Launchpads could be next to one another, moving together – 16×8 or 8×16 or whatever you like.
3. Faders Synced with a Grid. Get your faders following your grid. I love Push, but I’ve hesitated to use it live because I can’t easily mix on it. Now, I can have my LaunchControl XL follow the launch grid of the Push.

It’s free, but requires Max for Live (included in Ableton Live Suite 9). I’ll say this, though, now with confidence – if you’re serious about using Live, just get Suite (or a discounted version of Max). Seriously. I haven’t talked to one person who regrets that. They’re getting it to use tools like this, even if they’re not patchers.

Compatible hardware: Continue reading »

Faders. Knobs. Done.

Faders. Knobs. Done.

Sometimes, you just want to grab a fader.

Maybe it’s not about elaborate custom parameter assignment, or clip launching, or playing an in-tune Phrygian scale on a colored, light-up grid as you solo on a bowed marimba sample. You know, you just want to fade a track.

There are surprisingly few controllers out there tailored to this application. So, that makes the new LaunchControl XL from Novation a potential stand-out. It’s just faders and pots: 8 faders, with three knobs each. Each column also gets two triggers; these are switchable when used with Ableton Live to control mute, solo, and record arm functions. As on the Launchpad, Novation also provides separate user/factory templates you can access with a push-button, and switches for selecting tracks and sends, all mapped to Ableton Live.

The upshot is, you’ve got a MIDI controller that makes it exceptionally easy to mix eight tracks. And this being a Novation controller, it’s also lightweight and compact: the footprint is the same as the Launchpad, and it weighs in at under a kilogram. You can use it anywhere, because it’s bus-powered and driverless, so it works with iOS, Windows, OS X, and Linux.

I expect Ableton Live will be the most popular use case, though, so let’s begin with how Live integration works.

LCXL Continue reading »

Introducing Keezy Drummer from Elepath, Inc. on Vimeo.

Here is a plot line we’ve heard before: Musical interfaces are complicated. That makes them unfriendly to beginners. They give you options you don’t need. (So far, no argument.) The solution, of course, is some new product.

Each time we hear this plot line, someone talks about it like they’ve discovered it for the first time. This time, it’s Keezy Drummer, a new, simple drum machine app. You can hear them talking to The Verge about why this will change music technology, and why apparently in several decades of drum machines, they’re the first to work out this solution.

Here’s my challenge to you: try to actually use Keezy Drummer, and make it something you will not only use once, but come back to again and again. Go ahead: the app is free. I’ll wait. Continue reading »

Life is short. We're going to die. Listen to good music. (CC-BY-SA) David Dennis.

Life is short. We’re going to die. Listen to good music. (CC-BY-SA) David Dennis.

Happy Hallowe’en, and the entry in the northern hemisphere into short days and long, dark nights – perfect for getting lost in music listening and music making. That means it’s time to start queueing sounds to pass the time, and as it happens the CDM inbox has a selection just arriving. These are mixes unafraid of shadows and adventurous sound, and — well, the best is to let you listen. Leave the cheesy horror Theremin to someone else, and let’s enjoy something that is truly and deliciously evil in music.

Lower Order Ethics, aka Szilvia Lednitzky, can send chills up your spine – in a good way – with unforgivingly shadowy, industrial selections. If you have no interest in fancy costumes or giving yourself diabetes, in other words, Szilvia is the way you want to spend Halloween, so you can press play now. And — oh, look, it seems that she has over 16 hours of music on MixCloud, which means she can easily fill the endless nights arriving here in northern Europe, or, in a few weeks, Transylvania. (Disclosure: Szilvia is a collaborator of mine on the forthcoming Alchemic Harm project, because I was a fan of her aesthetic.)

Gothic electronic keeps getting richer – not just some distortion and all-wet reverb added to tracks, there’s some spectacular selections here from the likes of Samuel Kerridge and Cut Hands that are best of breed. Szilvia mixes for Liber Null, the Berlin event and collective that specializes in such thick, dark brews. Continue reading »

liberty_thereminis

There’s nothing more personal than creative expression. And so experimenting with how you make music is more than just novelty: it’s a way to understand the fundamentals of how we relate to machines. And thinking outside the normal avenues means the ability to reach new people, as SoundLab is doing with audiences with learning disabilities. Ashley Elsdon joins us to give us the latest of how the project is going.

A little while ago, CDM kindly posted a piece on our SoundLab project, which aims to help people with learning disabilities make music and collaborate in music creation. That was as we were starting out at the beginning of the project’s 12-month lifespan. Almost five months in, and we have learnt a lot and made more progress than I could have hoped for. However, in doing that, we’ve raised both awareness of the project and expectations of it in a big way.

So what have we been up to? The short answer is quite a lot. But here are the highlights since you last heard from us … Continue reading »