Linkin Park have never been ones to shy away from trying new things on the stage and in the studio. They proved this most recently with the bevy of hip-hop, electronica and rock they recorded for their latest release, Living Things—which, incidentally, is currently Number One on Billboard. Now they've placed their stamp of approval on a new version of a software that makes recording and performing easier.
Music OS (Linkin Park Edition) allows users to create sounds, as well as organize them logically, play them live and share them online. The developers at Open Labs designed it to work on touchscreen PCs, though it also works with a mouse, and they have partnered with Dell to create the optimal machines for the program. What makes this edition unique, though, is that it comes with hundreds of Linkin Park-created sounds and patterns that anyone can use. The reasoning behind the group's support of the software is simple: they've been using it for years.
"We craft pretty specific sounds in the studio and were struggling to bring them to the stage until we found Music OS," Linkin Park producer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mike Shinoda tells Rolling Stone. "Once that relationship started, the doors opened to create something that not only worked well for our band, but something our fans could create and perform with as well. Now, with the addition of Dell, we feel we've got a great piece of gear and software that musicians of varying levels and styles can use to make great music."
The developers at Open Labs assert that they have made something that is intuitive and easy to use, especially when compared to digital audio workstations like Protools and Ableton that are geared more toward recording professionals. "You can be making music within two or three clicks," product developer Matthew Presley says. "It's that simple." The members of Linkin Park also gave the designers their thoughts on how to improve the system's functionality.
"Mike Shinoda and [keyboardist and turntablist] Joe Hahn have both been instrumental in providing input on features and functionality," Open Labs CEO Cliff Mountain tells Rolling Stone. "Both of those guys have a design background, so they've been giving us a lot of feedback on the user interface. We've worked with them really hard to push the boundaries of how easy can you make software like this."
One of the most useful aspects of the software is how musicians can apply it in a live setting. Users can build a setlist within the software and, when performing, can seamlessly switch between plug-ins, samples and more by touching the screen. Music OS also features crash protection in a similar way to a tablet device, and it will continue to run should a plug-in fail while performing. It's something the developers say has appealed in the past to the likes of Timbaland, My Morning Jacket, Prince keyboardist Morris Hayes and, of course, Linkin Park.
"It literally takes the place of 10 keyboards and samplers," Shinoda says. "Music OS is the best tool out there to organize and quickly access all my favorite sounds onstage, plus it can take a beating over the course of a rigorous tour."
The band is offering even more sounds to use with Music OS to members of their Linkin Park Underground fan club, which excites Open Labs as well. "We have tons of content from Linkin Park," Presley says, adding that the company will be releasing new content, including custom drum kits, monthly. "This is just the start."
• On the Charts: Linkin Park Rule the Day
• Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda on the Band's 'Personal' New Album