The demise of midifiles

Lonell asked me a question about midifiles…

Since you guys sequence, why don’t you offer the Midi tracks for sale?

Hi Lonell

There are a few reasons why we don’t supply midifiles,  mostly it’s down to time and quality issues associated with midifiles:

1. It would add quite a lot of extra time on to our production schedule if we had to chop and change and convert every single arrangement we create to “fit” in to a standard GM midifile format.

2. We would have to spend a lot of extra time trying to find GM ways of creating many of the sampled sounds and and sound fx we use in our arrangements – GM sounds are very limited and not very good compared to the studio sampled sounds we use on our backing tracks so midifile backing tracks wouldn’t sound anywhere near as good as they should.

We wouldn’t consider supplying a poor GM backing track to customers when we know we have the equipment, technology and studio capabilities to make a far better track.

3. Midifiles only sound as good as the equipment they are being played on so different customers get differing sound qualities from their midifiles and a consistent quality for every customer is impossible with GM.

Considering that a GM midifile will always sound poorer than a backing track that has been created with studio based sampled sounds, it makes no sense to create a product that you know is going to be inferior before it even hits the market.

4. Midifiles have been around for about 20 years now and are becoming less and less popular (mainly because of the advent of mp3 and it’s sonic quality advantages over midifiles).

If we are going to offer any new backing track formats in the future we would prefer to invest in a new type of music format than an old type of format like midifiles which are on their way out (note – even many midifile companies have now been forced to offer mp3 backing tracks because of lack of sales of midifiles).

There are still lots of companies out there who sell midifiles so there’s certainly no shortage of places where you can buy midifiles on the internet. In fact I have a couple of friends who are professional entertainers who still use the old midifile format when they gig and they refuse to change because they are happy working that way.

But their overall sound on stage is very dated because of the limitation of midifiles. They also agree that some midifile companies are better than others so they often have to spend a lot of time trying to tweak and fix midifiles they buy before they can use them on stage.

To me, it just seems like a lot of work and a lot of wasted time when they could achieve a much better sounding backing track without any messing around by simply downloading an mp3 of the backing track…but they are happy and that’s whats important I suppose (secretly I think they both enjoy tinkering around with their tracks and that’s really why they still use midifiles)!

I think there will always be a market for midifiles (which is why so many companies still sell them) but in the future I think you’ll see midifiles only really being used by those artists who like to tinker around a bit with their tracks – especially people like guitar players or people who have at least a bit of musical knowledge and who know how to edit the midifiles, re-arrange them etc.

These types of artistes are very much in the minority when it comes to backing track buyers though (which explains the sharp reduction in midifile sales in recent years)

Most artistes nowadays who use backing tracks are solo singers (non musicians) and they will ALWAYS get a much better sound and with much less hassle by simply buying a ready made mp3 backing track.

That way, when they play their mp3 backing track on stage, they instantly get the exact same sound the track had when it left the recording studio. There’s no compromise in quality – it sounds EXACTLY as the musicians who created it intended.