A couple of new file formats are upon us, but just how much that will rock the music industry is yet unknown. Native Instruments has finally released Stems, an open-file format that allows up to 4 independent elements that can be independently manipulated.
The Stems format is aimed at DJs who want to do remixes of songs during a performance by mixing elements from multiple files. That said, Stem files will play just like normal stereo audio file formats using any software that supports MP4 files (which is most of them).
Stem files have actually available for some time since the format was announced last year, but NI only now has released it's Stems Creator software (which is free). Find out more about Stems and Stems Creator at stems-music.com.
Another multi-channel format from a service called 8Stem allows users to remix a song to their liking. As the name eludes to, each file contains up to 8 stems that the listener can balance as they wish.
I think that musicians will probably love this format, but I'm not so sure that the average listener will embrace it. For the most part, most listeners don't seem to relish the thought of interacting with their music, and if studio cue mixes are any indication, too many variables might actually get them into trouble with a bad mix.
That said, it's cool that some new things are being tried (although Todd Rundgren did something similar on a CD about 20 years ago). 8Stem is still in the early beta stage.