STEMPLAYER & COMPRESSION
My producers, are they not my consumer.
— Marshall McLuhan
This is my favorite Marshall McLuhan quote that I believe defines the impact that truly genre defining technology compresses. But I want to hit the reversal on it…
My consumers, are they not my producer.
— Reggie James
Seeing the mixed response around the Stem Player has been incredibly interesting to me. A lot comes from a perceived lack of accessibility to the device and the content that it holds.
This is lazy and relies on an institutional stance that has created convenience for the consumer at the expense of a better handshake for the artist.
I want to present a different perspective on what is happening, and what I believe is the future of hardware divorced from the Apple (and subsequent web2 platform-ization of everything) world view.
Experience (for those that don’t know):
The experience is reminiscent of loading up my iPod when I was a kid. I jack in, I open iTunes, I load up, I walk away.
In a similar manner, you plug in your STEMPLAYER. The site recognizes it. And you have the ability to freely move about the cabin from there. Each track’s stems are broken out, each groove having touch controls over them. (with a host of other controls relating the touch-sound connection — also a good note of our increasing synesthesia)
The difference is singular and a major one. It’s the inversion of pure mobile consumption → the manipulation of your own consumption.
I can put any music that I have on it. Anyone that has dj’d and brings their usb around understands this. This idea has been widely lost in the playlist world of streaming.
It’s removing my reliance on Spotify as the sole distributor of my consumption. And putting my curation and ownership in direct relationship to both the artist and the tools I’ve surrounded myself with.
The question then shifts to → can this scale and what happens when it does?
Here are slides from an internal Eternal deck that pulls at the strings of this subject.
The closer we are able to compress consumption and reproduction, the stronger the cultural tool. REALIZE RIGHT NOW — CULTURE AND TECHNOLOGY ARE NOT SEPARATED. A lot of conversation I see in public have this weird distortion of thinking of these things as different forces. The reality is that it’s the double-helix-dna of our entire human experience.(bar)
Refocusing on the STEMPLAYER.
What we “lose” from the lack of distribution on platforms like Spotify, we gain in direct control of our new relationship with the work/media.
Every moment of consumption has the ability to be rethought, to find new thoughts, to record and distribute a different take of the shared base/reference point.
Sometimes it takes a series of tools to do this. The fashion house produces a line → we consume and style → we utilize our iPhone for capture → we utilize Instagram to redistribute and reset the context of the original line.
The reality of this chain is that it is getting compressed by our most dominant general purpose tool — the iPhone. But I would argue that the iPhone has really run its course on the tooling it affords (either in inspiration or the medium itself).
Compare this to the STEMPLAYER. DONDA 2 is released directly to STEMPLAYER. In playing it, I have direct remix and isolation and looping etc etc etc… This can be recorded and go anywhere as a proliferation of the original work.
Where is this compression heading???
Below are graphics directly shared from the STEMPLAYER discord.
Culture is caring.
— Tremaine Emory (Denim Tears & new Creative Director of Supreme)
Which model above looks like it cares more about the producers of the life source that is music? Which model above gives you a more direct relationship to this artifact?
It feels so painfully obvious held side-by-side.
The next big thing often looks like a toy… yada yada
We’ve been so sedated by the ease of consumption we’ve distorted our very notion of production.(bar) The growth of the term “creator” has bastardized the very spiritual resonance of it.
I encourage some of you that really care about music/consumer technology/technology-at-large to get the STEMPLAYER. Recognize that it’s a public v1 (there was another model with Teenage Engineering that wasn’t released). Rebuild a tolerance for truly new technologies. It will put your relationship with music in an entirely new light.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that new hardware that has resonated culturally has come from well outside the scope of the Apple ecosystem / Silicon Valley. This isn’t an Opal Camera (shoutout to my homies) snapped to the top of your Mac. Nor is it an AR headset forcing you to believe in their version of the future floating screen in your face.
This is giving you a screen-less moment. A moment to center in with a smooth orb that’s soft to the touch. With haptics and light that relates to the audio that is surrounding your space.
This is something genuinely new and worth consideration that guides us in a very different depiction of our hardware/media relationship.
I don’t do edits really, so excuse typos and things that don’t make sense.
Thanks so much for giving me your attention. I hope it was worth it, if not… unsubscribing will not hurt my feelings, and will give you back time you literally cannot have back.
Live in the light