Will Commercially Available Remix Sets Take Off?


Patrick Bodmer & Philipp Jung of M.A.N.D.Y., whose latest release is available as a Traktor Remix Set.
Pic from: Tribal Mixes

We previously discussed whether "stem DJing" - DJing using not completed tunes, but constituent parts of tunes - is a viable future option for DJs, in How Multitrack Files Could Revolutionise The Way DJs Mix. But Native Instruments has just brought the idea right back into the frame with the announcement that as of now, it is to make available weekly releases of tracks deconstructed specially for DJs to remix on the fly in their sets using Traktor 2.x and the Kontrol F1.

First thing to do is watch the video to get an idea for what they're planning:

The tracks will be available to buy through Beatport, meaning you can grab a track by your favourite artist, load it onto a Traktor Remix Deck, and start "playing" it from its stem parts. Of course, these being the Remix Decks, you can, when you've had enough, just mix out of it. You can beatmix your "remix" like any other track

So will it work?

It's clear Native Instruments has put some time into working out how the parts of commercial tracks will be presented for best use within the Remix Decks, but a few questions spring immediately to mind:

  • How many tracks will be made available?. It's going to be a big commitment to keep up a decent supply of releases. Presumably Native is hoping to "kickstart" third parties into also releasing their own tracks independently of Native?
  • Will artists want to give away the keys to their houses? Production is not just about great sounds, it's about how they're woven together. Will producers really want to give away all their "best bits" for anyone to have a go at reconstructing, or will they worry that the ensuing mixtapes/unlicensed remixes will dilute all their hard work?
  • How much fun will it prove to be? Part of the fun of DJing is being exclusive. If you pull apart a track yourself and reconstruct it in your own way that's one thing, but if you're grabbing from a limited pool of commercially available Remix Set releases, will it dull the fun somewhat?

I think it's a bold and brave move by Native Instruments, and it is good to see the company working hard on an ecosystem around its concept of Remix Decks and the Kontrol F1 hardware. It'll be interesting to see where things go from here.

So what do you think? Is this a great idea, and will it take off? Does it make you more likely to drop the cash and buy a Kontrol F1? Or will putting this kind of power into more people's hand devalue the music somehow? I'd love you to share your thoughts below.

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  1. I'm am old school vinyl spinner, but I reckon this is a genius move by NI, and is a pioneering move that is setting up where music, production, DJing and performance is heading.

  2. In Mandy's first remix set, the first column of buttons contains drums and hi-hats blended all together, therefore not allowing full control of these sounds. Is this the way artist will still retain their signature?

  3. Does anyone remember Mixman? That was basically the same, remixing 'dub-plates' of other artists' tracks. I loved that app, a whole lot easier than any other for creating remixes
    I see no harm, artists will receive extra exposure and I assume that tracks won't be re-released and poor mixes will be live or on illegal mixtapes - no poor reflection on the original artist. After all, artists seem to revel cover versions of their songs, why not DJs and remixes

  4. Useful if you intended to play that track anyway but otherwise can't see how it varies that much from just another sample pack. But if you really like the track and want to remix or use it in a mash up this would be awesome.

    • not to be rude, but I think that's what they are aiming for, hence "remix".

      • my bad : )

      • No, you're wrong sorry.

        In this case the word "remix" pertains specifically to the fact that the songs have been deconstructed with the intention of use with the Traktor remix decks. For a remix pack the label would usually provide stems of individual parts, which is not the case here. You could use it to try a remix butas the stems are grouped you wouldn't have the same flexibility.

        For an example of what I mean, you could try downloading a remix pack from Beatport Play.

  5. I'm a Traktor user but something like this should long term be an open format for use in other systems, as well, in order to really take off.

  6. DJ Forced Hand says:

    I really like this idea and it will probably move forward very well. I'm interested in using these packs in my mixes as well. I am concerned about this being a fad with people burning through the "newness" of mixing whatever they want with whatever else they want and ultimately turning everything into mud or something uncoordinated.

  7. This idea has KINDA been done already with artists that sell sample packs on sites like loop masters. I know a couple sample packs I have that I can definately take a sample and tell what track they used it it. I kinda like this idea NI is doing..... But seeing as they're $5 a track and I can get .6 to 1.2 gb of samples on other sites for around $15 to $20, I don't see much of a value.

    • Yep, done by Loopmasters indeed. DJ Mixtools it's called. started about 2 years ago. If you buy those, you can use them anywhere. With the Traktor stems, the question remains, if you can use them in Ableton too for instance...
      But still a cool feature, the new future in DJ-ing!

  8. I feel that your last point hit the nail on the head, if they start to take off you're going to have a noticeable gap between the ones who just purchase their packs and the ones who make their own.

  9. Pro Audio & DJ Tutor says:

    Pissed off that I only had this idea recently. All my great ideas get stolen...CDJs for another!

  10. I think its a great idea, DJing really needs to advance beyond just playing one track after another without doing anything whilst it plays. The issue though is what to do when you have more complicated tracks. Because while this might work with more minimal tracks like that shown in the video, when you want to start physically mixing a more progressive song it then becomes far more difficult with multiple layers, multiple sections and loads of automation going on making it very difficult to take control of in real time.

  11. Larry Spider J Hamilton 00 says:

    Possibly transforming your play-back music only DJ sets into a combination of LIVE, On-the-fly production remix sets! Advancing the Artform of DJing, combining Production performance skills! Taking your "Showmanship" creativity to the next level! No longer stuck to just "playing tunes back", but creating along the way for your "Signature Set!" Small cost compared to the stem of creativity produced! I mean I remember almost always buying two 12"s or LPs to do serious mixes involving that extra copy, so paying for the music , for me , is an accepted expense down the road of showmanship, exclusivity and personal signature style, besides I'm an "00", "Original Ol'Skooler", DJing way before the 80's!

  12. How much are these remix sets in comparison to full tracks?

    If it's $1.99-$2.49 for a new release vs something like $4.99 for the remix set, then I can foresee a lot of piracy.

    • I don't know, should be less since ur not getting the entire track lol

    • DeeJayIvan says:

      back in the day you had to buy "doubles" of vinyl if you wanted to manipulate acapellas, instrumentals and "bonus beats" (if you're old enough to remember those) so comparing spending $20 then just to have a couple of elements versus this format of remix pack for even further down broken elements, if you are serious about performing this way 5 bucks is nothing. Pirates however will always be pirates.

      • I don't agree. I used to buy vinyl and I'd only buy doubles if I was serious about doing some two-deck trickery.

        In the digital realm, there isn't any physical pressing, no "object" to be created. Yes there is album art, and other expenses, but the physical construction of a vinyl record or packaged CD is gone. Therefore like it or not the overhead is down.

        If I have to pay 2-3 times what I pay for a track to get stems, then I just won't do it...or I won't waste money on crap/pop/mainstream junk that most of that audience would be happy hearing the cheaper original tune. I'll spend the $5 on some tune I love and believe in.

        This whole thing is a scam in my eyes. They're going to claim because you're getting a bunch of "items" as opposed to one "item", it should cost more. In the end, it's still ONE SONG, just pieces of it.

        NOW...if these stems are all wav files, then I can see the justification to charge a little more...but if they're MP3s, then a remix set should cost no more than a track.

        Pirates will always be pirates...but you won't convince some of them to not be pirates if you're gouging them on product.

  13. I'm shure it will i have bine think about this idea for years now where u can mix the stems of the track instead of just playing the song out. Now we will be mixing up to 8different track that will make it so that everyday performence is unique even if all the Djs play the same set

  14. i can see this leadin to two things..

    1. artists releasing there weaker tracks b sides in a sense this way or writing tracks for remix decks in mind

    2. artists releasing some of there back catalogue to a fresh audience

    Not to say either is good or bad in any way but it seems that native intruments are pushing djing to be more about performance than about mixing. I wish they would work on there effects and eqs instead of thinking about how to expand the product

  15. MellonHead says:

    I've seen stems mixing go two ways. One: a good producer (mr. Bill) playing stems of his music. Sounded amazing! Two: local club dj. Sounded good until the stems mixing starts, and then suddenly the tight mastered sound vanishes! Basically, being able to mix the drums, leads, and basses means no mastering compression and limiter common to contemporary music, so ya have to mix it really well.

  16. Yeh definitely a good think. it will give more freedom to DJS and more earnings to artists. I don't think it will change much in music though:

    1. We now go and use certain acapellas, samples, and effects in our songs. and im not talking about "production" with programs like ableton. just "enriching" the song with our standard dj programs.

    2. There are already a lot of bad remixes. Any popular song has usually an armada of remixes following its release in the years to come. how many times did you hear a remix and think: "the original was so much better?" and im not talking about covers but remixes here. For example I wish that song The Bomb - These sounds fall into my mind had never existed, never released.

    3. Djs that produce are a step up anyway. so not much will change here. none expects every dj in the world to be making their own tracks or their own remixes though.

    So yes definitely a good thing. still i dont think that it will revolutionise music.

  17. NI are not releasing this pack, Get Physical are. It is a commercially motivated decision to try to sell more units. They are a bit expensive in my opinion but there are two things that can be reasoned to explain it. One, the extra work involved in creating, preparing and formatting the remix pack. Two, the scarcity of the product.

    It will be interesting to see where it goes.

    Just btw, the idea of mixing stems is not new. Joris Vorn mixed his Balance CD from stems a few years ago. NI have just offered a simplified way to do it for the general public.

  18. The remix deck is slowly taking up 'traktion', but rather than buying pre-made remix sets, which is a GREAT way to get started; I feel these remix decks will come into their own when people produce there own music loops. It is the simplest and best way to start playing your own productions out! The remix decks encourage people to branch out of simply playing other people's music and push people into the realms if playing there own stuff. This is excellent for further developing a DJ's skills.

  19. I'm not all that excited, but cool for those who are.

    Can't we just play awesome songs and let that be good enough?
    I don't really feel the need to change someone else's song as
    a way to make a statement about my DK skills.

  20. (DJ skills) ooops!

  21. To commercialize the stems of ones production will lead to some degradation and abundance of production but at the same time it will lead to awesome reinvetions as well. One of the sweetest things about music is its rules have no boundary. With all the sound tech out there to restructure sound and create new sonic bliss from old structure gives us a chance to feed our eco system while offering a chance for newbies to get the break down and play with it. sooner or later they'll be making their own stuff or become an avid fan. None the less its important to our genre to be innovative and find ways to build not just our bank account but the industries following. I feel this will be a great tool for the beginner to learn from. The seasoned DJ will probably find it a time saver, because we already make our own remix sets but now you can buy one that just needs your fine tuning.

  22. We've been betting on this for years. It shouldn't be only Proprietary format only though

    Sylvain, DJing.com/Remix.me

  23. I also hope they will 'open' this format. If I've paid for it I'd also want to re-use them in my Ableton projects.

  24. Robert Minardi says:

    I've heard people use those remix decks exclusively and it had to be totally boring for the poor people at that party. Totally boring. They setup a kick drum and just let it play while pulling and adding other elements. The dynamics of a song i.e. build ups,breakdowns and differing key are what make songs worth DJing. All NI did was put a little ableton in there software to be used as a TOOL. If your using them to play your entire set...your not really a DJ.

  25. This is a great idea!I've waiting for this for years but there's another way: your always can load a few plug-ins and some Vengeance samples to make your own Remix Deck in Ableton;-)

  26. Great idea. This is what I needed two years ago when I first got into controlism. I would buy music if I can get the stems of songs. It's basically the only way to make clean remix on the fly. @nativeinstruments keep up the efforts to create remix sets Serato has their own music pool this would be a better solution for djs.

  27. Is going to be the same as the Ableton djing and the four decks mantra, it won't never take off, at least not to use those stems live, what we are going to see maybe is a lot of morons doing mashups and re-edits in Ableton and then playing live their finished "remixes" that they did at home.

    Why? Not sure about it but for some reason what works best in a club are full songs mixed one after another without too much hassle.

    How many djs are playing 7 decks sets in Ableton live? How many use 4 decks at once? How many are doing "the next level in djing" that everybody had his mouth full some years ago? I really hated that sentence at the time.

    Have you ever been in a club with a guy scratching for 6 hours?

    I always thought there was a big difference between a DJ and a turntablist the same as a dj and a controllerist nowadays, it's strange for me that some guys can't see it.

    Even Ean Golden admitted that his routines weren't appropriated for clubs and that he did them more as a hobby and for demos but never in clubs when he used to play out for a living.

    You are lucky if you play something a bit tracky or "strangely" syncopated and they don't leave the dancefloor so stop saying how this wonderful will be and keep your feet on the ground, "history repeatings" reality always wins, dreams are just dreams, guys.

  28. Our 1st release (and all future releases) will be available in Remix Set format so keep an eye out for those if your into most dance and electronic genres. Also for now, here are 3 Remix Deck Sets for our initial first release before the tracks are out! -


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