Bon Iver, the Justin Vernon-fronted band that entranced the indie music scene with its debut album in 2008 and followed that up with the award-winning Bon Iver in 2011, just announced a remix contest that goes way beyond the usual “here are some tracks for you to mess around with, have fun” type of thing. Every single song on that record is available in raw, “stem” form, meaning that you get the vocals, guitar, bass, drums, and so on as separate tracks, and can make whatever you want out of them, with a chance to win cash and notoriety on the world’s most popular music subscription service.
Update: As of Monday, August 27, you have two more days in which to submit your remixes!
The winning tracks from the “Bon Iver, Bon Iver: Stems Project” contest will be available for the world to hear exclusively on Spotify (or so we think — the announcement reads “elusively;” hopefully this isn’t a treasure hunt where you have to find the tracks within Spotify’s 17-million-plus songs).
Everyone from experienced remixers to first-timers can grab the stems starting today on Indaba Music, which also offers online tools with which you can do the remixing — even if you lack your own audio software. Each track will be feature its own contest on Indaba, with $1,000 going to the creator of the best remix of each song. Entrants have until the end of August to submit their creations, after which voting will commence on Bon Iver’s website, Indaba Music, Facebook, and Spotify — so even if you don’t win, your remix could end up in Spotify and get heard. Once fans have had their say, Bon Iver will pick the winners from the cream of the crop.
This is not just any album. In addition to Grammys for best alternative record and best new artist, (much to the consternation of the uninitiated, who notoriously misheard the group’s name as “Bonnie Bear“), Bon Iver took home “best album” honors from Pitchfork Media, Q Magazine, Exclaim, Stereogum, and the Libera Awards. As such, we expect amateur and professional remixers to take note in a way they might not with a lesser-known record.
In other words, this is sort of a big deal.
For Indaba Music, the contest represents a vote of confidence in its online music production and mixing platform (here’s another). For Spotify, the output of this contest represents something perhaps even more crucial: content that is only available on its service, and not on iTunes, MOG, Rhapsody, Pandora, or anywhere else. For Bon Iver, it’s a way to re-promote the album; and given that it was generous enough to “open source” the whole thing, in a creative if not in a commercial sense, the band and its label (4AD) can probably expect a fair amount of (even more) attention to come its way. Finally, amateur fans, semi-pro dabblers, and pro musicians can get their hands on stems from these incredibly popular tracks without spending a dime or hiring a lawyer. We score this as a win-win-win-win.
Here’s how you can enter, according to the official announcement:
- Visit the Bon Iver, Bon Iver Stems Project remix page at Indaba Music.
- Create a free Indaba Music membership.
- Select a song(s) and download the stems.
- Remixers will have from 08/01 to 08/29 to complete their remixes and upload them for consideration.
- Voting begins on 08/30 through Bon Iver, Spotify, and Indaba Music’s websites and social networks via Facebook (one vote per account).
- Winners will be announced the around the third week of September, each earning a spot for their remix on the official Bon Iver, Bon Iver: Stems Project remix album on Spotify and a $1,000 cash prize.
To get the ball rolling, “members and friends” of the band created an initial round of remixes. Bon Iver’s own S. Carey, from the excellent Jagjaguwar Records, released the first remix, offering a sense of what is possible with these tracks. You can listen to that here: