Mix Michael Jackson's multitrack masters in your own studio?

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Record-Producer.com.

Friday February 5, 2010

There's a new software around that could be the saviour of the music industry. And you can get your hands on some amazing original multitrack recordings too!

Note: Since this article was published in 2010, the company behind this project seems no longer to be active. More information here...

Let's face it, the traditional music industry does need a bit of saving. Not that we're very much bothered about the industry fat cats (now a little thinner than they were of course), but we do love their catalog and artists.

So what about Michael Jackson, for instance?

Wouldn't you just love to get your hands on his original multitrack recordings and play with them yourself? Or just listen to the genius of his unaccompanied vocal, before he went, er, eccentric.

Well you can, thanks to a new audio format called .MXP4

MXP4 is for the public, by the way. But it's interesting to us too, as you will see.

To explain what MXP4 does, let's look at what the MP3 format does...

It plays audio.

Oh, it can contain some text data too, such as artist, title etc. But fundamentally all it does is play audio.

So what if you wanted to re-engage the public with music and drag them away from their gaming consoles - what would an audio file have to let you do?

Well, I've already mentioned multitrack. MXP4 can allow access to individual instruments or groups of instruments ('stems' as we might call them in pro audio).

You can turn stems on and off as you please or listen to them individually, using the 'Play With It' function. To be able to listen this closely to the work of the musical greats is pure audio gold dust.

There are features that are more punter-orientated. There is a Remix function where blocks of audio can be re-ordered, but not to much of a degree of detail.

The ability to include a biog, photos, videos and other material within the file will definitely be a bonus for the public.

Want to see...?

Go over and play with Michael Jackson now...

This is an online version, and all of this interactivity can be contained in a single .mxp4 file.


There are two key areas for discussion here. The first is of course whether it will catch on, and what opportunities it might present for us.

The second is... well listen to the individual tracks in the Michael Jackson recording. I'm not going to preempt the discussion, but listen closely and please tell us what you hear.

We'll feature the results in another article later in the month.


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