Will Native Instruments' Stems format change DJing for the better?

Released earlier this year, Native Instruments' Stems multi-track audio format enables producers to create files that contain four split-up elements (eg, drums, bass, melody and vocals). So what does it mean for the DJ market in general? Is it a game changer, or does it make things too easy? We put the question to our five experts...

Dom Kane

"I think the whole Stems format could potentially be a game-changer for live performance. Not so much for DJs, as I think they have their thing and it works, but more for the people looking to go beyond that with live laptop performances, and even record labels looking to offer some unique content. The fact that it's an open format for software/hardware developers to use means that there's some real scope for it to become more than just a closed system for a niche market, too."

Simon Shackleton

"Whilst it might make producing mash-ups easier and more intuitive for the beginner, I can see it having a fundamentally detrimental effect on the sound quality, groove structure and flow of what's coming out of the speakers in anything other than the most expert of hands."

Sonny Wharton

"I'm not sure it will completely change DJing as a whole, but the introduction of Stems will no doubt open up the ability for us to layer and customise the tracks we play to a whole new level.

"I think it's really exciting that this is finally going to be rolled out and, if anything, will allow us to blur the lines between the DJing and production world when we're performing in a live environment, and essentially take elements of the studio directly to the DJ booth with minimal effort."

Alex Blanco

"I'm torn. It sounds really exciting, and I've always embraced new tech, but the main threat to dance music's popularity is DJing and production routinely being devalued into formulaic loops rather than coherent songs or genre-defying sets. Collectively, we must ensure Stems doesn't perpetuate this.

"Also, I spend hours getting bass, drums, vox and music mixed correctly and mastered together to sound perfect in a club. Many DJs can't even resist pushing one stereo channel into the red - how about eight or 16? We're gonna need to watch our levels!"

Jakob Thomser

"When Neonlight play a DJ set, we always want to create something new. That means finding tracks that fit 100% together to make a double drop or mash-up. With Stems we will have more control over details - it will make it possible to remix songs live. But I think producers have to change their mixing and mastering strategies, and that will be the bigger challenge. It will take months to get a good line-up of songs, so it also will need some practice to integrate Stems into a common DJ set."

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