September 20, 2011 at 12:49 pm

How You Release a Music Magazine in 2011: With a Remix App (Spinshapemix)

spin magazine spinshapemix shapemix

The author remixes Digitalism's "Circles" as he contemplates the increasing relevance of dance music and Spin Magazine's October issue.

Say what you will about Spin Magazine (Dead trees! It’s not Pitchfork! They put a dufus on the cover!), but one thing this veteran music magazine comprehends is how to make a splash with its October, 2011 issue: You make a remix app that ties in thematically with your cover story.

Yes, Spin has partnered with fave Shapemix to create its first “genre-specific” app, which lets iOS device owners remix two dance tracks to go along with its new dance music-themed issue: Tiësto and Hardwell’s “Zero 76″ and Digitalism’s “Circles.”

Those two tracks are available free of charge; six additional songs are available from a special Spin-branded version of the Shapemix Marketplace from Sander van Doorn, Damian Lazarus, Holy Ghost!, Bird Peterson, Destructo, Marty Party, and Pallers.

“Dance music, at this moment in particular, is becoming the dominant sound of youth culture, and its fans are perhaps the most passionately engaged in any genre,” said Charles Aaron, Spin editorial director in a statement. “Spin Play [its previous music app] was a key moment in our digital evolution; letting fans listen to artists as they’re reading stories about them. Now, the Spin dance app takes that one step further, tapping into a sound that’s ruling the cultural landscape, and letting users create tracks to share instantly with their friends.”

Time view in the Spinshapemix app for iOS

The app works the same way the regular Shapemix app does: by letting you adjust balance and volume of pre-quantized tracks by moving little pulsating spheres around the screen (pictured above). Alternatively, you can switch to the Time view (pictured to the right) in order to drop in new stems and rearrange tracks as you would in a traditional digital audio workstation (DAW).

That means Spin didn’t have to build anything new in order to do this — it simply had to secure the rights to let users make and distribute remixes (which, in legal-ese, mean “derivative works”), and then plug those into its own branded Shapemix app.

U.S.-based users are encouraged to share their mixes via Facebook. To sweeten the deal, Spin has enabled these for voting; the two remixers with the most votes win tickets to the electronic dance music cruise, Holy Ship. The contest starts today (Tuesday) at noon ET, although the link doesn’t seem to be working yet.

This looks to be a clever move on Spin’s part, because the free app will help its next issue make more of a splash, and because it makes sense thematically with the issue itself. Plus, now digital music publications like this one have a reason to write about it, which we definitely would not if this month’s issue featured another unremix-able picture of Chris Martin.