Native Instruments today proudly launches Stems, a new multi-track audio format that will attempt to set a new interchangeable standard for remixers and DJs, and possibly a new paradigm for the music industry. Stems is an open file format providing the ability to freely interact with four different musical elements in a track, such as drums, bass, keys and vocals. Each element’s volume, filter, and effects settings can then be controlled independently to create new mixes, edits, mashups, instrumentals, etc.
On the technical side, a Stems file contains four synchronized stereo stems, with the original stereo master as the fifth stem. It can be encoded as either AAC 256 kbps VBR or Apple Lossless (ALAC). Any app that can handle .mp4 files should be able to play the stereo master, even if it doesn’t “know” about the rest of the stems.
Online retailers Beatport, Bleep, Juno, Traxsource, whatpeopleplay, and Wasabeat have already begun offering releases from prominent artists and labels in Stems format. NI’s Traktor Pro 2.9 DJ software supports Stems directly and, later this summer, artists will be able to build their own files with the free Stem Creator Tool. To support the online community of DJs, as well as producers, developers, and industry professionals, www.stems-music.com will act as the official home for info about playing and creating Stems. DJs can also follow the global discussion online via the hashtag #playstems.