Where are the Ableton Shares of yesteryear? Oh, Ableton Share, how little we knew ye.
And so on.
Ableton Share promised to make sharing among Live users effortless, by some undisclosed means. It was touted as one of the main selling points of Live 8 (a fact that you can read about in all its ranty glory at the Ableton forum), but the feature disappeared quickly after being introduced. But due to its ungoogleability and some great damage control on the part of Ableton, I haven’t even been able to figure out what it was, much less what was wrong with it.
But I am curious, since it seems like it could have revolutionized the way we make music.
Right now, producing music is often a solitary activity (your cat does not count as a companion). But what if we had a service like Ableton Share to help us not only connect with collaborators, but to discover new ones as well?
Many people have gotten into using Ableton’s “Collect All and Save” feature and a Dropbox account in order to share their sets with their collaborators. My experience with this has been mixed, tbh. It still seems like a kludge to me, which is great, but I’ve always said “Dare to Dream” (my therapist gave me a poster to that effect). I’ll tell you my preferred method after the fold.
One possible solution to the drawbacks of Dropbox is Gobbler. Gobbler is a new service that is optimized for sharing big media projects. It has all of the aspects of Dropbox that Ableton users like (store and share files, easily revert back to prior saves), plus some added integration. But Gobbler comes with a desktop client that automatically backs up projects that you’ve indicated to it. The desktop client also has the good manners to only run while you’re not doing processor intensive tasks in your DAW. This, plus the fact that it only uploads resources that have changed, means that it is actually pretty light on the system. Amazing, considering how much data is being thrown around.
But more and more, I realize that I don’t want a replacement for Ableton Share. What I really want is a Github for Ableton sets. I want Ableton Social.
For those of you not familiar, Github is a “social coding” website. In exchange for free hosting, your code is open to the world. This means that anybody can “fork” your code and make their own version.
Git also distinguishes between “saving” and “commiting.” This is what differentiates it from merely “backing up.” The default is that your local machine is NOT synced exactly with your Github account, even though it may be saved. To me, this is a great compromise between being totally open and making sure that the shared version of your work is up to snuff.
Dropbox may never have this functionality. But Gobbler already has the infrastructure to do this and knows this market (although they seem to be focusing more on professional studio engineers right now). Imagine if you could go over to Gobbler.com and “fork” a version of a new Live set by Bassnectar and then totally reimagine it and save it to your own account? All of the forking and versioning could be stored in a log file, showing everyone who’d ever worked on a project. Since an .als file is just an XML file, new .als’s can be parsed on the server and a human readable description of the track changes can be posted alongside the set. If you see someone always doing interesting stuff, you can “follow” them and keep track of whenever they commit a new project that you can fork. Instead of just being a tool for collaboration between people who you already know, Gobbler can be a way to discover new collaborators.
This might be pie in the sky. But Gobbler is off to a good start and, should they choose to go this route, they could totally change how we make music. And, they are offering free storage space right now (up to 5GB), so now is the time to try it out.
Do you guys think that there is a room for a more social music production collaboration tool, like a Github for Ableton sets?