New technology continues to make the creation of digital music a reality for so many, but it is still intimidating to most of us. The complexities of where to start can really make your head hurt. Fortunately, this is changing. While attending a salon at Foxgrove, a new DJ/production school in Manhattan, I met the self-described “Global TechNomad” Craig Swann, who was there to present the beta version of his new cloud-based music production software, Looplabs.
Have you ever wanted to make a track but have no formal music education? Maybe you are a DJ, like me, but are having a hard time crossing over into the world of production. Maybe you are looking to access a larger musical community. Or maybe video games have lost their luster, and you want to try your hand at something else. Looplabs may be just what you are looking for.
Imagine you took a digital audio workstation like Ableton or Logic and boiled it down to its most intuitive elements, were given access to a massive library of royalty-free audio samples, and merged it with an audio distribution platform like SoundCloud, where you can connect globally to other musically minded people with whom you can easily share and remix each other’s work. In a nutshell, this is Looplabs. Did I mention it’s free?
The platform is split between “studio” and “explore,” where you have the opportunity to either make music or listen to it. It couldn’t be more straightforward. Without a single lesson and an elementary background in music production, I was able to set up a profile and started making my own music almost immediately.
You can listen to my first Looplabs creation (you need to create an account and be logged in to listen) here.
Being a bit of a house head, I went for a housey sound, but you are not restricted. Looplabs is filled with great examples of people generating everything from pop to trap to EDM to hip-hop.
I managed to catch up with Mr. Swann, who I think is on a beach in Mexico right now, drinking tequila sunrises. Here’s the 411.
“We think the time has come where technology can provide tools, in the browser, which rival traditional workflows, and software can be created that is intuitive and easy-to-use, allowing anyone, anywhere to participate in the beauty that is making music.”
Where did you get the idea for Looplabs? How did it start?
The original idea came to me in a massive parking lot drum circle after a Grateful Dead show in Buffalo in 1992! I was at university and exposed, through the university system, to what was to become the internet, and dreamed of a future where the social aspect of the Dead and their community and music and the connectedness of technology would allow and bring us all together to participate in music. I was more than a little early, but it put me on the path of technology, while growing up with the internet, to be at the forefront of what was possible with interactive music.
Is Looplabs for everyone?
Everyone, although we’ve seen the core age from 14 to 24 to be the sweet spot. We’ve had 7-year-olds to 67-year-olds on the platform, both of which are amongst our top users, with 150+ tracks between the two of them! As Keith Richards’ grandfather told him, “Everyone is a musician if they are given the chance to be.” We believe wholeheartedly in this. We see people expressing themselves digitally through design (Canvas), photography (Instagram) and video (YouTube, Vine, Instagram), but music has, sadly, been left behind. We think the time has come where technology can provide tools, in the browser, which rival traditional workflows, and software can be created that is intuitive and easy-to-use, allowing anyone, anywhere to participate in the beauty that is making music.
How many users does Looplabs have?
Since our public rollout more than a month ago, we have accumulated 16,000 users and growing. We have yet to announce a number of significant partnerships, which will begin to accelerate this.
I hear you are a big fan of the remix and remixing potential with Looplabs.
Remixing artists is going to be huge. We are actively seeking artists and producers who see the value in having their content made interactive on a platform like this—transforming their fans (new and old) into a digital street team, co-creating, collaborating and sharing their creations to promote artists via social.
This is a beta version. When will the final version be released?
Good question! Gmail was in beta for around five years. Because we are building off an unreleased or final version of Web Audio and WebRTC, which are constantly being developed—as well as browsers catching up to adopt and support these initiatives—it’s pretty bleeding-edge. Beta also means change, growth and iteration, and that’s sort of in our ethos.