I’ts 15 years since my original humble promotional site went live. So much has happened in that time. There have been so many changes to the music world , some amazing, some good, some OK and some absolutely dire.
The old dial-up 56Kb/s speed internet that my site was originally aimed at in 2002 has now, in most UK areas, thanks to fibre optics, given way to fast broadband making data downloading heavily-compressed audio convenient and popular. I rid my site of low data rate squelchy sounding sound clips some time ago. It’s great to have been able to offer high rate MP3 and particularly FLAC lossless files for sale for some time.
Music technology itself has also changed a lot since 2002. I used to spend hours cutting a splicing tape and twiddling knobs on my synthesisers, always with a recorder ready to go in case I got something good while it was ‘alive’ or before the synth drifted off never to return to that exact sound. When digital came along instruments appeared with ready made preset sounds (perfectly repeatable), first by a few then by hundreds and then by thousands. So the musician spent much time trawling trough this huge list auditioning each one only to rarely find that sound that fitted the job in hand perfectly. You invariably found that most sounds were useless for your purpose at the time and the best most versatile sounds were used by everyone else! Recent trends have extended that idea much further. Now you can select not just sounds for your master work but whole samples of grooves, riffs, solos, you name it all recorded by top session people in good studios. You can simply assemble them, layer them, and even pitch shift them to suit. This is really great for non-players and solo vocalists say putting a backing track together to sing over. The down side is of course, is it’s all played in someone else’s style and can easily turn out clinical and shallowly slick. I have to say it’s not often I find listing to a signer with backing track anywhere near as good as a live band even if the musicianship it not technically as good. Modern software recording also makes it very pretty easy to execute hundreds of edits from many performance takes. This can also produce a really slick often superhuman performance. The downside is the humanity and emotional continuity can so easily be edited out too.
Recording has been revolutionised. Much of the exotic bulky recording gear you’d find in a well equipped studio now can exist in software form on a laptop or tablet. It’s often of good quality and maintenance free. The only thing missing might be the less obvious things like good mics & technique, suitable room acoustics and, you never know, maybe the skill to know how to use all this well. Back in the day a record deal was the only way most could afford to book a good engineer at a top class studio. You had to convince someone influential you were worth backing either by live performance or a good basic demo tape. Not easy. It’s all different now. You can, if you wish, bypass this path and upload your songs straight from your laptop to an on-line store and you are in business. The trouble is, because it’s so easy and convenient, ten million other people are doing exactly the same so you have to do something that will grab the attention and appeal to the masses, which is what big businesses are expert at and have the clout to do. If you have any integrity, you are certainly up against it. Uploading, however, certainly is a very good thing for the music web sites..