Making a stage powered by AI: inside GAMMA_LAB

What happens when you apply machine learning research to experimental sound – and then play live in front of a festival crowd? Recently, in St. Petersburg, RU, we got to find out.

Our team for Gamma_LAB AI gathered a diverse international team of artists, musicians, musicologists, coders, and researchers, including people who are deep in the field of data science work outside of the arts. (One of our co-hosts was juggling her work in path finding for drones – so not the usual media art approach to AI!) Organizing team (of which I was the only non-Russian member this time):

  • Natalia Fuchs, Curator
  • Julia Reushenova, Curatorial assistant
  • Helena Nikonole, Conceptual artist
  • Peter Kirn, Facilitator
  • Natalia Soboleva, Facilitator
  • Dr. Konstantin Yakovlev, Scientific advisor

… plus our partners, including tech partner Mail.ru Cloud Solutions.

Step one: come together for a 12-day laboratory, bringing us to St. Petersburg in May. That was our chance to learn from one another, take in some lectures, and get started with experiments – everything from digging through how to reconstruct baroque music to generating new sounds for techno and experimental improvisational performance. Participants came from everywhere from Kenya to just around the corner:

Ksenia Guznova (RU), Ilya Selikhov (DE), Anastasia Tolchneva (RU), Michal Mitro (SK), Mar Canet (ESP), Ilia Symphocat (RU), Thomas Disley (USA), Nikita Prudnikov (RU), Tatiana Zobnina (RU), Joseph Kamaru (KE), Egor Zvezdin (RU), Alexander Kiryanko (RU), Katarina Melik-Ovsepian (RU)

Step two – the big leap – come back to St. Petersburg in July, and in a raw industrial space, make the whole thing work for an audience of festival goers. That led to a full program:

A packed audience, ending in techno sounds and industrial installation (by Stanislav Glazov). Photo: Alexander Sharoff.
  • A live media art performance by co-host Helena Nikonole (hacking into Internet of Things devices in real-time from the stage)
  • An instrumental group of baroque musicians mixing together historical scores and freshly-generated AI libretto and melodies (led by harpsichordist Katarina Melik-Ovsepyan)
  • A mixed acoustic-electronic improv group working with machine learning-produced sounds trained on various experimental sound sources (Ilya Selikhov, Michal Mitro, Symphocat, and KMRU)
  • Live-coding duo with an original AI-powered encoder/decoder, built on the artists’ own recordings (Monekeer + Lovozero)
  • Yours truly making live techno from generative text, AI-generated loops, and style transfer

And all of this took place in a peak-time, Saturday night festival program, set in an apocalyptic looking ex brewery just before its demolition, complete with immersive, responsive lasers and light by Stanislav Glazov (Licht Pfad studio, Berlin).

Here’s the improv group, working live with their materials:

Some audio examples:

Live coded, custom AI from the duo Monekeer + Lovozero.

I spoke with curator Natalia Fuchs (ARTYPICAL), who put together the program with us. Natalia is right now presenting the project to MUTEK Festival in Montreal, and has worked not only as a curator and co-producer of GAMMA, but as an advisor to the current AI show at the Barbican Centre.

CDM: First, let’s put the lab in context – there’s Surgeon on one stage, pounding out techno, but then there’s the results of this laboratory, too. What’s the place of GAMMA_LAB inside Gamma Festival?

Natalia: Gamma_LAB is the heart of experimentation at the festival. We launched the LAB in May 2019 – that was a [big reponsibility] for us, because the LAB was self-funded, without any institutional or technological support. Only after the international open-call was announced, we started to get attention from the different partners that [have now] joined the project. By “responsibility” here I mean our relationship with the artists and the audience – we knew that experimental lab is just the first chapter, and the main message will be the conceptual AI stage at the festival.

What does it mean to have a lab inside a festival, to have a place that is making new stuff?

When programming the festival, we always feel like we want to represent local artists and quality local production. And Gamma_LAB is the cultural production unit for us. We focus the project on new artistic and curatorial solutions, on international collaborations – and that means we keep on track, stay connected, and help the community develop.

Baroque musicians – mixing historical scores with AI-constructed libretto and melodies – joined electronic artists. Photo: Alexander Sharoff.

What has been your relationship to AI as a curator – how would you relate your experience in GAMMA_LAB to your involvement with the Barbican show? CTM Festival? Other projects?

My connection to AI is coming from my general research interests: I am a media art historian and I am deeply concerned by the new media research in relation with AI nowadays. I find it extremely stimulating and exciting – this enormous philosophical quest towards finding the big “other.” So as soon as I started to work closely with Helena Nikonole, conceptual artist of Gamma_LAB, being a peer for her “deus x mchn” project at Rodchenko School in Moscow and advising this artwork to the “Open Codes” exhibition at ZKM Centre for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, I was developing my curatorial approaches to art and AI. Then there were AI-related projects for the Barbican and CTM, but Gamma_LAB for me conceptually throwing my practice back to the Polytech.Science.Art program that I [previously was] curating at the Polytechnic Museum in Moscow. The way we build the processes here including theory, applied studies, performative aspects, it brings same strategy to the next level. In terms of the scale, Gamma_LAB with its connection to the Gamma Festival ([with its] 12000 visitors) has definitely jumped much higher.

Obviously, we know AI is buzzing. But do you feel there’s something unique about this particular set of collaborations – was there a sense that something different happened? In the process itself? In the results?

The engagement of the technical team was very different at the LAB. I think that we found the way to collaborate between disciplines in a way that is interesting for both – technology professionals and media artists. It makes the project very strong, I believe.

Live improv group. Photo: Alexander Sharoff.

There’s lots of curiosity as always about doing projects in Russia. What would you say the relationship of the Russian scene to the international scene is like? I’m certainly grateful for the unique expertise we had; maybe people aren’t so aware of how much technical skill and talent is in our Russian network?

We have had the long period of time when Russian science and technology was subject to control by the government. So internationalization of science is still happening very slowly in Russia. So I don’t think it’s a question of belief, but a question of historical memory. International interest in the technical skill and talent in the Russian network is definitely very strong , but people outside the country know that it was rather impossible to have successful collaboration due to political restrictions. So at the moment, we all have to go through these borders. And Gamma-LAB also supports open communication in the field of science, technology and arts.

The AI workshop began life with the exhibition and the workshop in Berlin – and now you’ve continued on to MUTEK. What’s the longer narrative there? And anything you can talk about as far as where this will go next, or what you hope will happen next with these projects?

The longer narrative is conducting proper artistic research on AI – but with curatorial supervision. Every international festival is interested in the development of cultural production, to expand contemporary culture strategies and be constantly engaged with audience feedback. The more serious collaborative experiences we have, the more profound cultural production is, the more meaningful art experiences can be delivered to the audience. We’re bringing this to the level of collaboration of the festival not only with artistic communities or applied technology makers, but with academic and scientific circles.

My hope is not related to any “next level,” though. I hope it will be the chance to develop a critical approach to AI and the arts. I think there’s no space where people can freely discover and form their own opinions on the AI matters [that compares with] the media art world and festival environments.

Helena, you got to approach joining our team from a different perspective, also haveing worked as a solo media artist. What was your experience?

Helena: The AI Stage… became, from my perspective, one of the most experimental and multi-genre stages at the festival. I showed my piece deus X mchn in the form of performance, which was presented before in a museum in an extremely different environment. Therefore, I thought it was interesting that showing this piece at the festival, I wasn’t planning to serve the expectations of some part of the audience, but then I realized that actually it was the feature of the stage.

Helena’s project has seen exhibition presentations before – but now it also got to share a festival stage, live in front of an audience, with uncertain and near-realtime results.

All performances, from baroque to noisy improvisation, from digital art to live coding performance could be shown in a museum, as well, and for me, the AI Stage was the best example of how a music festival can become a space for new media art and sophisticated experiments in sound and music. And yes, the audience was just awesome! Of course, some part of it were more used to going to raves than centers for contemporary art, but even these people were genuinely interested in what was happening at the stage, so finally, I was really surprised that sometimes a rave can also educate the audience.

https://gammafestival.ru/ [EN/RU]

http://artypical.com/

Photo: Nikita Grushevsky.
Photo: Nikita Grushevsky.

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MeeBlip cubit go: USB MIDI anywhere, with ultra-tight timing

Today, we’re announcing MeeBlip cubit go – a unique USB MIDI interface with incredibly tight timing.

cubit go has the ports you most often need when mobile – one input, so you can perform, and four outputs, for sending notes and/or clock.

Here’s the twist: we’ve integrated hardware MIDI thru circuitry on the four outputs. Anything you send to the interface’s output goes to all four jacks simultaneously. There’s no software delay – you get rock-solid, ultra-tight timing.

That makes cubit go the perfect follow-up to our cubit splitter, introduced earlier this year. You still get four outs with identical timing – but now in a USB MIDI interface you can connect to your computer or mobile device.

Cubit go is driverless and USB powered, so it works with any desktop OS, but also on phones and tablets (with the appropriate cables, sold separately). And the jacks are top-mounted for convenience.

Just plug it in and use it – there’s nothing to install, no separate power supply needed, and nothing to worry about. cubit go is palm-sized, lightweight, rugged, performs perfectly, and is easy to use. 

Features:

  • 1×1 USB MIDI interface with integrated hardware MIDI Thru
  • Class-compliant USB MIDI – no drivers needed
  • One input jack
  • Four hardware-mirrored output jacks – no software lag
  • High performance 32-bit ARM Cortex processor
  • Bright green MIDI light flashes when sending or receiving data for easy troubleshooting
  • Size: 108 x 76 x 25 mm (4.25 x 3 x 1 inches), weighs 110 g (3.9 oz)
  • Includes 1 m (3 ft) USB cable
  • USB powered
  • Works with macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android*
  • Made in Canada, available only direct

cubit go is available now for US$59.95, with free worldwide shipping for a limited time, along with our geode synthesizer.

Buy it now

The mission of MeeBlip is to get musicians – and CDM readers – playing instruments easily, whether they’re a beginner or expert. So if we help make sure stuff is plugged in and playing, the cubit tools are doing their job. Let us know what you think and if there’s more stuff you’d want to see.

As with our past products, we made something we want to use, too. I’m definitely using my cubits all the time, so I’m excited now we get some in your hands, too.

https://meeblip.com/products/meeblip-cubit-go

Previously:

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Arturia’s KeyStep just got way more useful

Arturia’s KeyStep was already appealing – a mobile MIDI keyboard with sequencer and arpeggiator. But the 1.1 update improves some details and adds major new musicality.

Let’s look at this in detail – though the sequence length and arp octaves alone already have me sold.

A ton of power is now available on the fly, as you play.

Three new features are now available from the KeyStep’s physical controls, as you play:

Sequence length. Hold Record, and press one of the MIDI Channel keys, and you set length of the sequence on the fly. This actually works from 1 – 64 steps, just by pressing a few keys in sequence.

Quantized tempo adjustment: Now you can hold shift and turn the tempo knob to move by increments of 1 bpm. That lets you round off bpms from the tap tempo or quickly dial in a bpm without winding up with something weird. (127.62, anyone?)

Arp Octaves: With the arpeggiator running, you can now shift notes you’re playing up or down the octave. (The Arturia site is a little unclear on this – it sounds like they mean just shifting the arpeggiator up and down by octave. It’s actually cooler than this.) So hold Shift+Octave + or -, and whichever notes you’re playing will be arpeggiated up or down by octave. Hit the +/- key multiple times for multiple octaves. I can’t think of anything that works quite like this; it’s really cool and performative, because it’s all on the fly.

You’ll need the editor to access some new features.

Three modes are available in the updated MIDI Control Center software editor (so not onboard, but something you set in advance):

“Armed” clock. This gives you the option of using external sync, and passing it along, but controlling the KeyStep’s sequencer with the play button. There’s now a new parameter for switching on or off Arm to Start, which determines how the KeyStep responds to external clock.

Off is the original mode – the KeyStep Pro will just run or pause or stop with your external clock signal. But switch this to on, and the KeyStep lets you start and stop the sequencer as you see fit. You still pass the sync on to other gear. So for example, you could keep your drum machine running with the master clock, but turn on and off the sequencer on the keyboard, stop and jam for a second live, or whatever.

Pattern and Brownian Randomness. You can set randomness to Brownian Motion (“drunken walk) or “Pattern,” which creates randomized but repeating patterns. Pattern Mode is borrowed from Arturia’s MicroFreak synth.

Change LED brightness. Finally. No more blindness.

I still would love to see a KeyStep Pro, akin to the way the BeatStep Pro built on the original BeatStep. It’d be terrific to have a keyboard with some knobs for parameter controls. Having to use tiny DIP switches to set sync modes is a pain. And obviously there will be limits to how much Arturia can do with key combos (which already mean a little time spent cracking the manual), or software editor options. It’s not hard to imagine something that expanded this with extra features.

But for now, the KeyStep stays nice and compact – and you could always add a little box with some faders or knobs, since it is so small. Plus, even with some of its rivals, Arturia has a serious edge:

  • The keys feel great.
  • There’s MIDI DIN support for external gear.
  • There’s a standalone option (including a dedicated power plug).
  • It works with USB when you need it – no drivers required. (Hello, Linux/Raspi, etc., in addition to mobile, of course)
  • Its power consumption is low enough to work with iPad, etc., without additional power.
  • It’s stupidly affordable.

I think that with the additional performance options, this is the one to beat.

https://www.arturia.com/products/keystep/details

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Here’s how the Sensel Morph’s custom touch control works

The Sensel Morph’s specialized touch control lets you apply both multi-touch position and force (how hard you press). Some new and recent videos make it clear how to customize that for your different tools.

The Morph isn’t alone in the force + multi-touch position game. The growth of MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) depends on multiple controllers. But the Morph tool is uniquely adaptable, thanks to specialized overlays that let it adopt different layouts. So, as I’ve written before, you can swap between a musical control setup for a live show (say, with the Buchla Thunder overlay), and a different overlay for video editing (and fire up Premiere or Final Cut), and so on.

Peter Nyboer from Sensel is a perfect person to explain all this. Now we get to see his full presentation from Perfect Circuit in LA, right in the comfort of our own home. (The magic of the Internet – behold! It’s like we can be everywhere at once, instantly! Or something.)

Here’s his full talk on the overlays and how the customization software works – that last one being a big point, I know:

If you’re looking for a standalone control device, this isn’t it – it’s really more about being lightweight. But I do find the nice thing about the Morph is that it’s small enough you can put it in your backpack and forget about it – even more so than the iPad, and with greater accuracy and force sensing that the iPad lacks.

Sensel have also been busy with additional tutorials on how to work with the Morph. Bitwig Studio gets interesting because of its native MPE support – and there are custom control surface scripts there. (Bitwig seems well-suited to just this sort of tinkerer application.)

You don’t even need to buy a Bitwig Studio license to get started – there’s an included Studio 8-Track license included with the Morph.

It’s really the Buchla overlay that puts things over the top for me. Buchla himself had it right – this diagonal layout just ideally fits under the hand, especially for something performative.

And yeah, here’s the Buchla looking right at home with a modular setup – just as this controller was intended:

Here’s more on how the Morph works with MPE:

Find more at the Sensel Morph product page:

https://sensel.com/pages/the-sensel-morph

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One little MeeBlip meets one giant Hainbach wall of sound

Mobile synth, meet wall of synths with knobs bigger than your hand. I got to take our new MeeBlip geode for a friendly visit with the legendary Hainbach and his lair of huge vintage analog gear. Here’s what happened.

MeeBlip geode

Hainbach is my kind of YouTuber – his channel is a nonstop flow of creative use and misuse of vintage gear, from cassettes to test equipment, paired with thoughtful ambient and experimental music. And it’s clear his passion for that equipment is driven by an obsession with producing his unique musical sound.

I asked Hainbach if maybe we could show our MeeBlip synth and have a jam, and he invited me round his house – and this is the result. (That’s how the Internet should always work, I think!)

There’s not a whole lot of MIDI in his studio, so we made use of the inexpensive KORG SQ-1 step sequencer, which is also pint-sized like our MeeBlip. Most of the MeeBlip sounds you hear are dry, but there’s also some reverb and delay from the cult favorite Alesis Wedge.

For his part, Hainbach starts out with the lovely Roland SH-09 monosynth for that lush opening tone, then adds a cassette loop. But much of the sound is from the “wall of sound” full of test equipment. This oversized, gorgeous gear was – well, until we all popularized it online – pretty cheap to come by until recently. It’s now antiquated and past retirement age in industries like telecommunications for which it was originally intended – but as a synth, it can last forever. Hainbach has explained what it’s all about, and I’ve also previously described an open laboratory in Rotterdam specializing in the setup.

Bigger than a MeeBlip.

The fun part is really getting to put the two together. Hainbach is a focused listener and improviser, so he’s terrific to play with – and this is really one take, since he had to run to pick up his kid right after the shoot.

“There’s so much to play in there… impressively playable.” Thanks, sir. So we actually can compete with enormous vintage test boxes, I guess.

We are shipping now at meeblip.com:

MeeBlip geode

And you’ll find more on Hainbach’s Patreon subscription. Plus do check his music; it’s terrific, and also really enjoyed the couple of times I’ve seen him live.

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Here’s the biggest guitar in the southern hemisphere, in a free sample library

The remote town of Narrandera, New South Wales has its hemisphere’s biggest guitar – like “the guitar that ate Australia” big. And it’s already inspired plenty of free music, plus a free sample library you can download for yourself.

Big is impressive. A giant guitar is a tourist attraction, that’s for sure. But big is also sonorous – this oversized instrument also has a unique timbre in the bass register, made possible because of its size.

Not just a little large – the Big Guitar is freakin’ huge. Here’s Tom “DJ Wasabi” Jones, who co-created the free sample library with Bassling, readying to record.

So it’s well worth checking out this free library of sounds, all Creative Commons licensed – all they ask is some credit and tags in return. Friend of the site Bassling (Jason Richardson) did an ace, professional job of capturing the Narrandera guitar in all its splendor, alongside Tom ‘Wasabi’ Jones.

It’s available ready-to-use in Ableton Live and Native Instruments Kontakt formats, but you could easily adapt the sounds to any instrument you wish.

The Big Guitar [with downloads]

That unique sound has already caught the attention of composers, both locally in NSW and abroad through the power of the Internet (that’s you).

The wonderful experimental music site Disquiet has just completed one of its legendary Junto Project episodes with sounds from Narrandera, as part of an ongoing series of community-driven music challenges. It’s called “Acoustic Expanse,” even if I would have gone for “huge-a*** guitar,” but the results are great. Check it out:

Here’s Bassling’s own composition:

By the way, if you’re wondering why there are all these “in the Southern Hemisphere” disclaimers, that’s because evidently New Jersey outdid Australia in the freakishly big territory. (I couldn’t find another acoustic as big as the Narrandera instrument, though – maybe someone else knows more.)

Jersey City’s Liberty Science Center claimed that honor with this oversized electric v-neck, an exhibit for a show called “Guitar: The Instrument That Rocked The World.” Source: The Guardian

Somehow making a giant acoustic is more impressive to me, though, so let us know if you know of something equally enormous.

In the piano category, we already have an instrument here in Germany – and a sample library, to match, The Giant, aka the Klavins 370i.

http://latin-piano.com/details_370i_en.htm

https://www.native-instruments.com/en/products/komplete/keys/the-giant/

There’s a whole oversized band coming together; I can feel it.

More pics, for scale:

Composer Fiona Caldarevic.

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Deckard’s Dream could be your reality, with Deckard’s Voice

Deckard’s Dream is a lavish, 16-VCO beauty, inspired by the Yamaha CS-80 and Blade Runner. But now for the first time, it could also be a module – and one within reach.

Creator Roman Filippov is teasing the new invention with this image. And naturally, it’s called “Deckard’s Voice.”

Fiery the angels fell. Deep thunder rolled round their shores. Burning with the fires of Orc.

Somehow to me personally, this is more exciting than the original, but then I’m always biased toward distillations of things. What you will notice is that all the luscious Yamaha-driven sound design features are present. So that means the essential hands-on control of envelopes, all the filters, and modulation. This is a bite off the full-sized Deckard’s Dream, but it has the same personality and workflow, if not all those layers of sound.

Apart from a more compact size (and the chance of something you can afford without being someone like Trent Reznor), then there’s easy access to patch points. And the CS-ish design is really suited to a modular environment, so it’s easy patching into the LFO and pulse width modulation, brilliance and EG levels, and different waveform component outs.

That’s relevant, because I think you can get a thick CS sound design without necessarily needing so many voices. For their part, even Yamaha made a monophonic CS-15; there’s still a lot to do with that single voice and modulation, especially with this much in the way of timbral and envelope control.

I imagine just as the flagship has been a luxury item, this could rapidly become one of the more sought-after voice ideas out there. It’s complete enough to start to have its own identity, but compact enough to still make sense as a voice inside a modular.

Of course, this could disturb some people, convinced that such a replicant might take over human studios, overthrow humans, trigger dangerous amounts of GAS in our already damaged Earth environment.

To that I say, of course —

Modules are like any other machine, are either a benefit or a hazard. If they’re a hazard, it’s not my problem.

(“Too bad my credit card won’t live, but then again who does?” No?)

Deckard’s Dream site

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Is Captain Picard set to go to an ultra-futuristic NAMM show?

Location scouts must have been having a slow day as they imagined the late 24th Century. A teaser trailer for the new Star Trek: Picard clearly shows the exterior of – the Anaheim Convention Center.

I hope he’s ready for some hair metal.

Yes, the building you see in the teaser is the unmodified exterior of the southern California exposition center, which hosts America’s largest music instrument trade show. I’m genuinely surprised no one else has commented on it, because it’s hard for me to watch the trailer without thinking “oh, God, not NAMM!” The trailer shows a big shot of the exterior, plus some action shots around the roof; it seems we can expect more. Presumably this is a Starfleet or Starfleet Academy building.

In the past, Trek has intentionally used recognizable Bay Area locations to situate its futuristic Starfleet administrative buildings in an imagined future. (Heroic humpback whales and 80s jokes, optional.) Unless Starfleet has some Anaheim branch I don’t know about and a … peculiar 24th century approach to historical preservation … I’m going to put this one more in the “oh crap let’s find a cheap location in the LA area” files.

That should not stop any speculation, however.

Will NAMM still be held in the late 24th Century? Well, there’s no money, supposedly, but let’s presume the acronym will have been long forgotten, but it is totally plausible the NAMM convention will still be in Anaheim and in the same building, yes.

I’m guessing Picard has gone there to check out some flute vendors. (I mean, obviously.)

But with apologies to Barry Wood, I think that the Federation may now be the strangest ever NAMM Oddity.

As Captain Picard would surely say in a meeting – opinions?

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Need to chill? This 24/7 Eurorack modular radio has you covered

2019 – it’s a year when many of us are, let’s say, having some trouble chilling, relaxing, or … uh sleeping, to say nothing of meditating or studying. Fortunately, if you want a Eurorack modular solution, your ship has come in.

“Life can feel too fast sometimes,” say the creators. Yeah, no s***, especially with a world that is apparently actively on fire and run by people who seem to want to fan the flames rather than put it out. Wait, sorry, what was I talking about? Oh yeah. Chill. Slow down. Om.

Or rather, turn that Om into Ohm.

Dawless Jamming has an open call for meditative modular, extending on the channel’s patches and whatnot. Literally it came to the moderator in a dream, they say – “Rings into Clouds Forever.”

More details on the YouTube link above.

Breathe in, breathe out. Your patch cables are getting very heavy…

Let go of your fears and attachments. Do not worry about personal possessions… oh, wait, you let go of all of those already, you’re in modular…

Great stuff, though for me it still can’t top the soporific impact of this:

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Loopmasters partners with Beatport, as production enters the age of makers

The population growth of producers may make musicians nervous. But here’s one potential upside – there’s now a growing market for your sounds, not just your tracks. The latest deal between Loopmasters and Beatport points in this direction.

Follow along here, because this partnership is a little tricky to explain. (CDM was given an exclusive first look at the deal slightly in advance.) First, US- and Germany-based Beatport already had its own section full of loops and sound packs, called Beatport Sounds – and Beatport over the years has told us it’s been a big, growing business.

On the Loopmasters side, that company has a robust business across a number of models – you can buy sounds a la carte as downloads, you can subscribe to Loopcloud, or, via a sister company, you can stock up on plug-in effects and instruments (and preset content) via Plugin Boutique.

So, what happens now is, Beatport invests in Loopmasters, they sell their Beatport Sounds business to Loopmasters, and then over time you’ll see the Loopmasters stuff show up as part of the Beatport site. Beatport has some 36 million annual visitors, meaning that is some significant customer acquisition and sales potential added to Loopmasters. Loopmasters remains one of soundware’s enduring players, operating since 2003 and with sound partnerships with most major gear makers – plus, crucially, a huge catalog of the kinds of sounds producers in some particularly lucrative genres want. So the pairing makes sense.

There’s another angle here – there’s an overlap between content that can be streamed live, not downloaded, on a subscription model, rather than an a la carte model. That’s been Beatport’s push with Beatport Link and Beatport Pro, but only when it comes to tracks. Loopmasters has pulled off the much harder feat of making this work with sounds. Their Loopcloud tool not only lets you subscribe to content, but lets you preview sounds right inside your DAW, even matched to key and tempo.

Beatport and Loopmasters haven’t said yet what it’ll look like, but they at least promise that we’ll see these Loopmasters tools (including the streaming and subscription stuff) integrated into Beatport’s site “over the next year.”

Beatport and Loopmasters may be most excited about these gee-whiz streaming and subscription features, but with or without it, I suspect it’s a big deal that Beatport will have access to Loopmasters’ exhaustive catalog. That means for people looking for a particular genre or bit, it’s more likely to be there – and that Loopmasters can acquire DJs curious about dabbling in production (or even adding some live loops to a hybrid set) who may not yet be familiar with the Loopmasters brand and products.

This also would appear to give Loopmasters a leg up as Native Instruments works on their own Sounds.com offering. (Keeping score, at least NI now has Maschine and Komplete Kontrol integration – with the latter offering DAW integration, as does Loopcloud.) There also something coming with Plugin Boutique, but the two companies haven’t said yet what they’re thinking.

The other math here I think is pretty obvious. With more people making music, even as the business of releasing music as albums may or may not be working for producers, there’s the chance that your customers might be other producers. I even wonder if we’ll start to see distribution and marketing deals that combine releases of albums with associated loops or sound content.

Of course, whether that appeals to artists is a pretty individual decision. I do also suspect this will reignite the discussion of soundware and originality. And it’s odd, in a way, that the market is now splitting between extreme homegrown sound design (like Eurorack modular) on one hand, and loads of instant-access pre-built content on the other. But such is the state of music in 2019 – code everything from scratch, concoct it out of loops, or really anything in between. Just be aware, DJs browsing loops, you may start with looking for a tech-house groove and wind up with thousands of dollars of modular gear in your house. Don’t say we didn’t try to warn you.

https://www.loopmasters.com/

https://www.beatport.com/

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