Music producers are used to Big Tech infiltrating their studios. Apple’s Logic Pro is a studio stalwart, Google has curated a virtual music technology museum, and Amazon has even unveiled a series of Amazon Basics guitar pedals. But Microsoft Surface partnering with music marketplace Beatport on the Originals² campaign might be the most intriguing move for producers from any tech giant yet.
We needn’t remind you how daily life and the music industry have changed since 2020. Producers, DJs and artists have since sought new means of online collaboration to break down creative barriers and stay connected.
At IMS Ibiza, Beatport and Microsoft showed us the Party Mode feature for the Beatport DJ App, compatible with Microsoft Surface and enabling up to four DJs to seamlessly perform a back-to-back set from multiple locations anywhere in the world. Better yet, the set can be livestreamed to viewers across the globe. In addition, the two companies hosted a line of engaging workshops to help DJs elevate their live performances and harness futuristic tech to give them an edge in the scene.
So what makes Microsoft Surface the ideal partner for Beatport’s musical endeavours? And how might this partnership impact the electronic music industry?
“Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and business to achieve more,” Microsoft’s Chris Beeby tells MusicTech. “As such, we have always supported creators around the world that are changing their communities and inspiring their fans through music, art, design and innovation.
“Our partnership with Beatport further deepens our efforts to empower the global music community through best-in-class technology experiences.”
Beatport’s Ed Hill echoes Beeby’s sentiments, saying that the brand is “heavily invested in creating a seamless user experience by offering the very best in technology. Partnering with Microsoft, who are such pioneers in the tech space was a no brainer.”
Combining Microsoft’s tech prowess with Beatport’s forward-thinking is exactly how the two brands took the Beatport DJ App to new heights. Along with the new collaborative Party Mode feature, the browser-based DJ software is now fully compatible with Microsoft Surface’s PixelSense touch screen.
“To further enhance the new Beatport DJ App, we collaborated with our partners to optimise the touchscreen experience on Surface devices – empowering DJs and producers to work together more seamlessly in real-time from anywhere,” Beeby says. “The response to date from our Beatport partner artists has been overwhelmingly positive.”
Hill adds that the “demand for remote collaborative opportunities is at an all time high, but we have barely scratched the surface of what is possible in this space so we’re enjoying exploring more opportunities.”
The Party Mode feature for Beatport DJ App was teased back in December 2021 with a trailblazing back-to-back set between Loco Dice and Jamie Jones. At IMS Ibiza in May 2022, Beatport and Microsoft took the concept a step further and hosted the world’s first four-way back-to-back remote DJ set.
These four upcoming artists – each a winner of Beatport and Microsoft surfaces Originals² remix competition – may be on the same stunning coastline of Ibiza here, but rest assured that you’ll be able to do the same with three of your mates across the world.
Beatport has a strong reputation for its regular remixing competitions, giving aspiring producers the opportunity to put their spin on music made by their favourite artists. With the Originals² competitions, bigger prizes and plenty of special experiences are on offer for entrants.
“We’ve always been huge advocates of remix competitions,” Ed Hill says. “You never know what kind of talent you will unearth: they are one of the best mechanics for connecting artists with their DJing fans and galvanising that amazing interaction.
“The Originals² contest was no exception, but what made this opportunity particularly special was its world-first nature: recording a four-person b2b set had never been done before and the event location – an 18th-century watchtower in Ibiza called Torre D’en Rovira – was absolute magic.
He adds: “Being able to fly all these amazing up-and-coming artists and give them a chance to play at IMS and meet with [production duo] Gioli & Assia was a huge highlight. We’re excited to keep pushing the boundaries in this space, with groundbreaking tech and amazing and inspiring event content ”
Originals² was conceived to do more than just give a select few artists a special experience, though. With the Originals² Academy workshops, Beatport and Microsoft select a diverse roster of promising talent to showcase their creative techniques and philosophies to DJs and artists of all levels. The goal of the partnership, then, is evidently to inspire the next generation of creators.
“Music education has (and will continue to be) paramount to our shared brand story,” Hill explains. “That will include, of course, continued efforts towards partnering with mainstream talent to mentor the next generation of DJs and producers. We’re looking forward to working with new talent and championing the originality of creators everywhere.”
Beeby reassures us that both Microsoft and Beatport “aim to take a very democratic approach to artist profiling and truly recognise the appetite for every kind of genre, but beyond this, we champion talent from all walks of life.
“For us, diversity is integral to what we do,” he continues. “We aim to give a platform to artists big and small. We are also very focused on surfacing talent from more marginalised communities, whether that be LGBTQ+ artists, artists of diverse global ethnicities or those who are less able. When it comes to electronic music, we want to shine a spotlight on all talent and truly offer a platform for all.”
All this sounds pretty promising – especially from two behemoths in the tech and music space. But how can we be sure that Microsoft is genuinely invested in the future of music?
“First and foremost,” Beeby answers, “our partnership has always been rooted in the authenticity of the technology experience and ensuring what we do is providing clear value to the Beatport consumers.
“More than anything though, we understand we’re ‘new’ to the scene, and authenticity is everything. To that end, it’s important to us that music fans understand that this is a larger initiative geared towards supporting education through community investment. This isn’t unique to just this partnership, but is a universal goal of Microsoft Surface in using technology to promote learning opportunities for creators everywhere.”
Beatport and Microsoft’s partnership appears to be a force for good in the music scene, from both a technological and educational perspective. Microsoft seems to be looking to expand the opportunities available to new talent. Plus, it’s going beyond the Beatport partnership too, with Surface support for Ableton Live now available – which could be the future of a music production workflow.
As Hill points out, the Beatport and Microsoft collaboration is “ultimately been all about enhancing the user experience at every stage in the DJ journey. This is absolutely core to Beatport’s values and continues to be the key to creating meaningful initiatives.”