Open Source Music Remixes?! Tech and the Continual Music Stream, Part 4

Notes to self from the conference presented by NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, November 7th, 2014.



Stream-Tech Music Conference

Session Addendum: EVERYTHING IS A REMIX—with a new UPDATE, below

Martin Klimas, 2011: “Miles Davis, Pharaoh’s Dance.” Source:

While listening to Daniel Green speak about the new music streaming service Tidal, something arguably brilliant occurred to me.

Where is the creative and collaborative open source platform for music?(!)

Wouldn’t we be smart to have a service—such as Tidal—offering creative fans and other musicians the opportunity to work in the cloud as a community collaboration and expand the art? Whatever fee Tidal will charge, they could add a premium bump for those who want to be involved at this level. The point is to act upon and leverage the ultimate social media experience—to actually share in the creation of more art—and, with a premium fee bump, actually use that to increase artists’ revenue.

I am a musician and artist. Expression and communicating with an audience—the give and take—are defining needs and joys. With that in mind, here are three examples worth citing.

  • Beginning in 2005 and repeated often since then, Nine Inch Nails first publicly shared a multitrack session of a song they had recently recorded. It was offered, in the spirit of open source , to anyone who wanted to download it, remix it, and upload it back to the band to be shared on their site. Radiohead did the same a few years later, in 2008; the same with Kongcrete in 2010; etc., etc.

  • Jump ahead to over a year ago: before the release of the documentary “Searching for Sugarman” I created a minor remix of Rodriguez‘s music and attempted to upload it to SoundCloud just like the countless other remixes of even the most popular musicians featured there. Scanned and digitally ID’d by SoundCloud, it was rejected.

  • And just this week I spoke to a friend about his work for a startup company that teaches coding skills using real world tools such as GitHub; two days later I read about a graphic design startup committed to a similar scenario.

In terms of audience interactivity and creativity, where and how do we get more of them involved in the art of remixing and adding that to a creative pool that goes beyond merely receiving music passively? We’re already doing this anyway on free media sites, yet we’re not embracing the broader opportunities to formally integrate that reality with who we already are.

Artists have always borrowed from the works of their contemporaries and those who came before them. In this time of copyright litigation, reconceptualizing and recontextualizing artistic ideas, themes and elements has been chilled into stifled creativity. How do we get back to legitimizing creative repurposing and artistic interaction—to allow all of us to actively build upon a continuing dialogue of change rather than succumbing to the stunting of social advancements that legal actions frequently induce? And if we were to create a respected and legitimate venue for the sharing of ideas, wouldn’t that also help to put a dent in piracy? At the very least it would be a helluva lot of fun and a broadening of the power of music to transform our lives and the world.

I sat down with Mr. Green following his presentation and shared this concept, yet he was understandably guarded about discussing what might be Tidal’s future capabilities.

Thoughts anyone? Does something like this already exist and, if so, why isn’t it a bigger deal? If I’ve missed something, please shine a little light my way. Much appreciated.

UPDATE, Nov. 17, 2014: On the day that I posted this, quite coincidentally posted an example of an open source remix platformSplice“a sort of GitHub for DJs, where artists build and branch off tracks together, like programmers do when they collaborate on code.” 🙂

These are my words and transcribed notes and do not represent those of the presenters at this conference.


The evolution of music. Source:



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