Today Native Instruments announced stems, a new, open multi-track file format that could replace the traditional stereo MP3 with a four-channel, multitrack MP4 file consisting of separate MP3s, for instance, vocals, drums, bass and lead.
I’ve been hoping for a major company to back the .mogg idea for a while. If it will actually take off though is anyone’s guess. If producers can’t be bothered to release stems, then that’s game over. Also the cost of these MP4 files will be higher (and data size larger) - just image the cost and size of a lossless format! - so clearly this will be an inhibiting factor for many DJs too.
But the biggest problem I see is that these stems are initially targeting a minority subset of the DJing community that are presently dappling with Mashups, so will the typical DJ actually care?
With regard to the digital vs analog debate though, a lossless stem file would be not only of a higher quality than vinyl, but it would contain much more functionality. So potentially stems could be a deceive factor in this debate.
Overall I’m excited but skeptical about stems. With Beatport selling them and instant integration in Traktor as of June, another huge factor is if other DJing platforms will chose to support them or not. Lets see.