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Regroover is the AI-powered loop unmixer, now with drag-and-drop clips

You’ve sampled. You’ve sliced. You’ve warped. So what’s left to do with loops? Accusonus have turned to machine learning for a new answer.

Software for years has been able to apply rhythmic analysis (like looking for transients or guessing at tempo), and frequency analysis (filtering by band). The more recent development involves training algorithms with big data sets using machine learning. That’s commonly called “A.I.,” though of course artificial intelligence makes most of us scifi fans start to think killer robots and Agent Smith and the like – and this isn’t really anything to do with that. Behind the flashy names, what you’re really dealing with is some heavy-duty mathematics. The “machine learning” element means the software that has been trained on pre-existing materials to give you results that are less brute-force, and more what you’d expect musically.

What is exciting about that is the results. With Regroover, what you get is a tool that analyzes audio into “layers” instead of just transients, slices, and bands. And now, it supports drag and drop into and out of the tool. So individual sounds and layers can now be dragged to your host, to an arrangement, or to a sampler – anything that also has drag-and-drop support.

Add Regroover to Ableton Live, for instance, and it’s a bit like having a new way to process sounds, on top of the warping techniques you’ve had for a few years. Instead of working with the whole stereo loop at once, you now are presented with various layers – which might separate out a melodic part, or even get as precise as specific pieces of percussion. It’s using time and frequency and that machine learning all at once.

Regroover joins a handful of tools providing this sort of “unmixing” capability, with a particular focus on percussive loops. If you didn’t get exactly the isolation you wanted, you can then adjust the density of the layers and run the algorithm again. Or for additional precision, you can select a portion and split the layers based on particular material.

Sometimes the “mistakes” are as interesting as the results you’re looking for: you get the chance to unearth portions of a loop you may not have even heard before.

Around this layers interface, the developers have wrapped various tools for mixing, processing, and slicing up the resulting materials. You’re given an interface that lets you then adjust the level and panning (both mid/side and left/right) of each layer, which lets you emphasize or de-emphasize parts of the loop. And you can route layers to effects, either in Regroover or by sending to external buses to your host.

You can just stop there, or you can take portions of a clip – individual layers, bits of time – and divide them up into pads. There’s a built in drum pad sampler, but now with version 1.7, you can also drag and drop out to your host. In Live or Maschine, to give two Berlin software examples, that means you can then use your favorite sampling tools to work with further.

This could mean everything from minor surgery on a clip to isolating individual parts of the groove or even individual percussion parts.

Sometimes, the simple tricks Regroover can pull are actually the most appealing. So while you could do some fancy sampling or kick drum replacement (takes one minute) or something like that, you can also just mess with polyrhythms inside a loop by dividing into layers, and changing length:

Production guru Thavius Beck has a great tutorial explaining the whole thing from a creative standpoint:

I’ve been playing with Regroover for a few weeks. It definitely takes a little getting into, because it is different – and you’re hearing different results than you would with other tools. Yes, there are other remixing and unmixing tools out there, too – and this isn’t quite that. It’s really geared for percussion and loops specifically, and the interface makes it a kind of AI-mad sampling drum machine loop re-processor.

The most important expectation to adjust is, this won’t sound quite like what you’ve heard before. Remember when you first played with warping in a tool like Live, ReCycle, or Acid? (Old timers, anyone?) It has that feeling.

There are some mathematical and perceptual realities of sound that you’re going to hit up against. You’re pulling out elements of a single audio file, which means because your ears are sensitive, you’ll start to hear the sound as less natural as you process it. The quality of the source material will matter – to the point that Accusonus are even producing their own libraries. On the other hand, that opens up some new possibilities. For one, some of the digital-sounding timbres that result have aesthetic potential all their own.

Or, you can look at this as a way not to just extract sound itself, but groove – because the results are very precise about rhythmic elements inside a loop.

CDM are teaming up with Accusonus to demonstrate how this works and give you some tips, so we’ll check in again with that.

As I see it, you get a few major use cases.

People who want to mess with loop libraries. If you’ve got loops that are stereo files, this lets you modify them in ways subtle or radical and make them your own – a bit more like what you can do with MIDI patterns.

A remix tool. Well, obviously. This gets really interesting, though, from a number of angles. There are some new options when someone says “oops, sorry, I have the stereo mix and no stems.” There are new ways of treating the stems you have. And there are new ways of treating additional materials outside the mix. (All of this holds whether it’s your music or someone else’s.)

A way to process your own materials. I’m fond of quoting something I overheard about French cooking once – that the kitchen was all about doing something to an ingredient, then doing something else. So if you’re in the middle of a project and want to take some of the material a different direction, this is a new way of doing that. And I think in electronic music, where we’re constantly getting away from the obvious solution, that’s compelling.

A groove extraction tool. Frankly, this works a whole lot better than the groove tools in conventional DAWs, because you can pull out elements of a loop, then use that either as a trigger or work with the audio directly.

An “alternative” sampling drum machine. Since you can pull out individual bits, you can make new drum kits out of sounds. And that includes —

Creative abuse. Regroover is really designed for drum loops – both in the interface and the way in which the machine learning algorithms were trained and adapted. But that doesn’t mean you have to follow the rules. Dropping any AIFF or WAV file will work, so you can take field recordings or whatever you can get your hands on and see what happens. There are some strange perceptions you may have of the results, but that’s the fun.

Next week, we’ll have a tutorial and a special giveaway so you can give this a try.

Regroover is available as a free trial, a US$99 Essentials version, or a $219 Pro version.

Here’s what’s new in 1.7:

A complete set of tutorials is available:

Product site:

Accusonus Regroover

The post Regroover is the AI-powered loop unmixer, now with drag-and-drop clips appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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What does it mean that NI bought a startup that monetizes remixes

Native Instruments announced an acquisition that suggests a new area of intended growth for the company. They’ve acquired MetaPop, a firm that clears and monetizes remixes – and with the company, they also get the former CEO of Beatport. To work out what that might mean, you need to first understand MetaPop.

It’s safe to say remix culture isn’t what some predicted it would be. Instead of ushering in a bold new age where music is re-imagined by fans and artists find new opportunities to share ideas and earn money to support their art, we get — uh, takedown notices. And a lot of non-starters.

Into that somewhat desolate landscape, enter MetaPop. The startup was born at the start of 2015 in Los Angeles, founded by former Beatport CEO Matthew Adell. (Adell sold Beatport to SFX, though … that turns out to be an unpleasant story. It appears meanwhile MetaPop has only undisclosed seed money behind it – though that could be actually a good sign, in that acquisition could help it grow.)

Basically, the idea of MetaPop is to actively support fans making remixes, and squeeze revenue out of unlicensed remixes that are floating around online. When you just play music – as in a DJ mix or an online streaming service – you are required to pay a compulsory license, or a fixed license fee that is supposed to pay money back to the artist. That’s another discussion, but suffice to say even the US Commerce Department thinks that that license structure doesn’t make sense for remixes. (I will refrain from using the word “mash-up,” as I think it’s dead, like “information superhighway.”)

So MetaPop does two things. First, it actively courts remixes. There’s a marketplace of pre-cleared stems, where you can go and download stems for free and make your own remixes. There are promoted contests, too, like a recent one with Carl Craig. They’ll even host a remix contest for you for free.

Second, MetaPop supports labels and artists by searching for unlicensed remixes and monetizing them.

You can read Adell’s thoughts on this as CEO, as he speaks to Bas Grasmayer:
Monetizing remix culture: Beatport’s former CEO about his new mission

Carl Craig stems, anyone?

Carl Craig stems, anyone?

Now, it’s pretty easy to follow why Native Instruments might be interested in such a company. We’ve already seen that part of the company’s vision for the future of DJing is live remixing content with STEMS. MetaPop is literally a source of stems, if you want to look narrowly at what that might mean. But apart from remixable content on MetaPop being potential STEMS fodder for Traktor users, more broadly it seems to align with Native Instruments management’s idea about where DJing and electronic music are going.

I wouldn’t look at this as “what NI plans to do with STEMS, though.” It seems to me that NI are primarily acquiring Matthew Adell – and they’re not being secretive about that.

Keep in mind that NI had a financial stake in Beatport, and worked on strategic partnerships. Now, they’re bringing Adell into Native Instruments, naming him Chief Digital Officer. In today’s press release, NI CEO Daniel Haver says point blank, “we’re very excited to take our online offering to the next level.”

He’ll stay on in NI’s LA office. That office is now up to 50 people.

Let me break from script here, though, and say, quite frankly, I have some real questions and reservations about this direction.

The principle potential here for electronic music as service and remixing as medium is all on the DJ side. And Native Instruments has got to get their DJ offerings in better shape to remain competitive.

TRAKTOR is complicated, and subject to instability depending on the computer hardware it runs on. Then, some of its differentiation points are starting to look more like vulnerabilities. Sure, you can use elaborate NI controller hardware – but you’ve got to compete with a competitor who can tell you to just “carry a USB stick.” Then there’s the concept of doing live remixing with STEMS. I still like STEMS as an idea – I’ve released my own content on the format, other artists’ content, and I’ve used it and found it to be musically useful. But Native Instruments rolled out STEMS as a “standard” and has since utterly failed to bring on any major developers or vendor partners, or even to integrate it in their own production products (like Maschine). To me, it’s a great idea – but one that’s had next to no follow through, internally or externally. I say all of this as a TRAKTOR user.

That’s assuming this will have some connection to the existing TRAKTOR DJ product silo, but it’s hard to think remixing and online services won’t have some connection. (Again, DJs are the ones really driving consumption – worth saying.)

And let’s get real. This market has gone back to selling, buying, and playing vinyl records. That’s how devoted it is to reliability, tradition, and physical hardware.

I don’t doubt for a second that there are real opportunities in online offerings, too. Indeed, Adell identified some of those problems with MetaPop. Just getting music out and getting it in the hands of DJs (and remixers, if you like) is already a huge challenge to producers. That impacts NI products outside of just DJing, too – if you can’t get music heard, then you’re less likely to want to buy production tools. Solving these problems could well be valuable.

But this is the challenge Native Instruments faces. Whatever they do with digital offerings, I think they’re going to live and die based on hardware, because hardware is what we’re investing in. (Ask that competitive Japanese company that makes giant MP3 players that cost about as much as a used car.)

Sure, that may be an odd thing to say to the company that made its fortune by going to software. But look at it the other way round: NI has grown at each stage of life based on correctly recognizing trends. That includes the value of software development, then the potential of digital DJing and digital vinyl, then the combination of controller hardware with software.

They may well have it right by identifying online offerings as part of the next trend. But I think the thing to watch is whether that can work in tandem with a more robust offering for DJs, up against increasingly dominant competition.

Of course, that’s what keeps working in this business fun – it’s neither easy nor simple, and it connects directly to people’s most passionate feelings about music at a time when how music is made and heard is changing. So, as always, we’ll be watching.


The post What does it mean that NI bought a startup that monetizes remixes appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.