- Kanye West – Love Lockdown
- Radiohead – Reckoner
Both Kanye West and Radiohead are participating in a long overdue trend that seems to now be emerging where musical artists are beginning to release “stems” from their tracks. Until recently, a mashup or remix artist would feel lucky just to find an instrumental version or acapella (vocals only) of a favorite track. But these musical stems allow us much more control.
Most modern recordings have many tracks, usually more than ten, and sometimes more than a hundred. Each track typically represents a single recording or electronic sound. Traditionally, before all these tracks are mixed down into a final stereo mix, it is first mixed down into about four to eight separate audio files (stems). All the foreground vocals might be on one stem, all the drums on another, while the guitars and keyboards might be on yet another. When all the stems are added together, you hear the song as it was originally meant to be heard. The traditional purpose of these stems was to enable the mastering engineer to give the final mixdown just the right sound for various formats (radio or club, CD or vinyl).
Now, with DIY remix culture exploding, we sonic manipulators are growing hungry for disassembled pop music, and the music industry is beginning to see the benefit of increased exposure through releasing stems directly to the public, allowing us much greater freedom than if they had simply released the instrumentals and acapellas. Now we can choose which instruments are playing.
This new trend augers well for us in the mashup community, and I look forward to the practice expanding. Thank you Kanye, thank you Radiohead, and thanks to all the other musicians (and music execs) that are starting to see the light!
put together the following video.
View the video in full screen HERE