Is remixing the new X-Factor?

toy piano

Or Is remixing becoming the new X-Factor? Whatever you want to say about them, tv shows like the X-Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, America’s Got Talent, etc., are becoming the major way for kids to become pop stars. The temptation to audition for one of those shows is often too much for the budding singer, girl band, boy band, or guitarist, and when they finally reach the live shows, there’s the chance to get free publicitiy, exposure, critique of their style and ability. Even if they don’t make it all the way to the final, there’s always the chance of being signed by a record company, however well they can sing.

So, why do I think that remixing is becoming the new X-Factor? Well, compare the two: someone advertises a talent contest where you don’t need any industry form or prior performance experience. You just need your instrument (voice or digital audio workstation – Ableton Live, anyone?); the material to perform with, either a song or some audio stems; and you need some time to get your performance right, but not necessarily to a high level. There are so many talent shows out there – X-Factor contests run by pubs and bars, holiday hotels, local tv and radio stations, probably a new one every day somewhere in the world. There are so many remix contests out there too. There are even websites dedicated to advertising the latest contests. Somewhere in the world, someone will enter all of these contests, but usually budding remixers, who see it as a quick way to get signed by a record label, will enter one or two a month, hoping that this will be their big chance.

But, like the X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, the really talented, dedicated, hardworking remixers will miss out, only to be beaten by the “popular vote”, in terms of the ones with the highest number of plays or likes will be shortlisted. Talent probably does come into it if they’re in a contest that is looking for particular techniques and it’s about ability rather than what sounds good to some people. However, like in the real world of becoming a popstar, it’s the approaching people in the industry and showing them what you can do, that gets you the opportunities. Ok, so some people who win remix contests may be famous and find a way in to the music business, but more often than not it’s the talent that is wanted and that’s what gets you the gig.

So, two things from all that. First of all, anyone can make a remix. It may not be good, but it may be what someone is looking for. Even my 8 year old can make a remix in Ableton Live. Secondly, I still enter remix contests, despite having done “official” remixes for some bands I know, and appearing on compilations etc. Why, because there’s a very tiny part of me that still sees them as a way to get famous, despite that fact that I always ridicule shows like the X-Factor! My latest remix below, is one I did in about 6 hours for the Ableton 24 hour remix contest “Beat the Clock”. I downloaded the parts for the track, most of which you could only open in Ableton Live and you had to make the remix with the same program. Having only used Live for a few days before, I probably proved my theory that anyone can make a remix, so here’s the result:

Contest Page:

Beat the Clock – Ableton Remix by Tim Blackburn/mistrust

Listen in Soundcloud:

By the way, if you’re a Soundcloud user, and like the track, please favourite it,and share it, thereby making me win the popular vote! If Pudsey the dog can do it, so can I!

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I’ve learned to make an Android App

Yes, I’ve learned to make a Google Android App, using the Googlelabs App Inventor (beta)….

I’ve made my very first app for my Android phone! It’s not an all-singing, all-dancing program, but it’s an app, all the same. Why make an app? I’ve always wondered how to make an Android application for a while, and also wanted a way of making our College library induction leaflet available to more students, and making it instantly available and updatable. I recently found a couple of websites that you can pay to have an app developed for you, or make an app from an RSS feed fro free, but I wanted one where I could add content myself. I came across App Inventor for Android (beta), which is one of the gadgets on Google Labs. It looked just the thing I needed to make my own app.

The blurb on the website says:

Creating an App Inventor app begins in your browser, where you design how the app will look. Then, like fitting together puzzle pieces, you set your app’s behavior. All the while, through a live connection between your computer and your phone, your app appears on your phone

Android App Inventor Blocks Editor

(screenshot of the Blocks Editor)

The basic app that I made uses text-based lists and a basic navigation system to provide the content, and it’s even got a button that lets you dial the library’s phone number! I’ve so far added things like opening times and how many books you can borrow, but it’s a start. The App Inventor lets you add all sorts of complex programming, using drag and drop blocks that interlink, and updates the output via either an online phone emulator, or your own phone linked to the computer. It’s a great little program, and it’s got enough scope and complexity for me to add links to (and play) online induction videos, external content, and send updates to users’ phones, all using the same application.

One shortcoming of the Google Android App Inventor, is that you can’t, at the moment, add your self-made app to the Android market. You can, however, download it and share it with your friends and students.

Picture of Library App

(screenshot of the completed app).

This post was first made by me on Posterous.

QR Codes

I’ve just created a QR code to point people to another website…. you’ll have to have a QR code reader on your mobile phone to find out where it points to!  Just open your QR reader and point your mobile phone at the code:

qr codeI generated the code at QRDroid, as the one I’d orginally done at Kaywa’s QR Code Generator kept on disappearing. You can get a free code reader for Android phones at QR droid.

If you can’t wait, just click the image here to take you to the page….