December 22, 2010 at 2:35 pm

The Remix Project: Bob Dylan’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ on Sony Facebook App

Bob Dylan, Sony, and the music remix company ClubCreate announced on Wednesday a new Facebook web app with which you can easily remix the Dylan classic “Subterranean Homesick Blues” using four “stems” from Bob Dylan, as well as loads of contributions from musicians who uploaded new parts to the contest.

The Remix Project lets anyone with a Facebook account create a new version of the Bob Dylan classic by combining disparate videos stems (many sets of vocals, guitar, drums, saxophone, keyboards, and more). Submissions are open until January 24, 2011, after which voting opens. Ten winners will receive a selection of prizes including a trip to the SXSW music festival in March. And it should be stressed that the Record section is still open, if you want to sing or play something for other participants to use.

We’ve been playing around with the app (screenshot above), and it’s a fascinating take on the remix. To create your own version, drag-and-drop videos containing audio from the original Bob Dylan version, as well as various parts played by The Ting Tings and other users.

Interactive music formats like Sony’s ClubCreate-powered Facebook web app offer a promising new avenue for musicians looking for ways to attract listeners accustomed to media that they can shape, rather than just hitting a play button. And because all of this happens within Facebook and using Flash, you can access the app from most desktop browsers and share your creation with just about everyone you know.

The result, by the way, is not precisely a remix, but more of a crowdsourced cover song that incorporates a wide range of input on both the recording and mixing sides of the equation. All of the parts are quantized to be “on time,” so even the musically inexperienced can get their hands dirty with these stems to make their own creation.

My version appears to be processing still, but here’s one from a user called “erikwunstell,” which you can hear on Facebook. Neat, right?

Now, for a few criticisms:

  • It’s not obvious how one can preview what one is making, although there are play buttons over each video in the preview pane. Also, the app froze when we tried to rewind to the beginning of our remix at one point, so we had to start all over again. And when we finished, our remix was unplayable on the contest site, although we were able to find it there.
  • This app doesn’t let you make your remix in real-time or anything like it; instead, you have to plod through four screens, dragging up to six stems onto each one — and you have to do a lot of clicking to get to those stems. We’re talking a solid 5-10 minutes here, people. Can you imagine?
  • When you’re done, you can share the general contest via Facebook, Twitter and email, but there’s no obvious way to share your specific mix, outside of Facebook. For instance, I couldn’t embed it within this article.

Ultimately, even though it takes a while to make something with this Dylan/Sony/ClubCreate collaboration in today’s minutes — and the sharing options are severely limited — you do end up with a result that’s worth sharing, if only to your Facebook friends. Even if you don’t, it’s a fun way to spend some quality time with Bob and his new friends.

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