Hoping to sway producers away from the lowly mp3, Native Instruments just debuted a new audio format, named Stems, that boasts multi-track functionality. What the fuck is "multi-track functionality"? I'm glad you asked. Instead of a traditional, single-track song, Stems is made up of a bass track, a drums track, a percussion track, and a vocals track which can all be accessed independently.
Stems mainly help artists and the people that make money off of artists, but it helps them a lot. For example: If I'm an artist and I normally sell a song on Beatport for 99 cents, I could sell a Stems version of my track for, say, $5 because it lets people do more with my music. Bootleg remixers will have better tools to make better remixes, and DJs will now have the ability to mix with just the vocals track and percussion track if they so wish. And don't think for a minute that Native Instruments aren't dreaming up hardware to better utilise this functionality in their Traktor DJ hardware.
TRAKTOR software will be the first to offer Stems support when it launches later in the summer, and Native Instruments assure us that other developers will follow after. Beatport, Juno, and Traxsource are the only confirmed retailers who will be selling Stems songs at the moment, but again, expect that list to grow by the end of the year.
Have more questions? Give Native Instruments' FAQ a read.
Ziad Ramley is on Twitter