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Technology Killed the Musician

“Technology puts a lot more pressure on your imagination and creativity.”

– Seth Godin

Technology is possibly the best thing that’s happened to independent musicians. In the past ten years we’ve seen a dramatic decrease in the costs of producing, recording, distributing, and marketing music due to digital audio workstations, social networks, and e-commerce platforms.

Even so, technology can be blamed for killing the musician. Easy access means musicians can put music out without taking the time to hone in on a creative process. Presets in programs such as Pro Tools and Logic lead to “producers” using the same sounds and “engineers” using inaccurate EQ settings without knowing how things really work (and bypassing the opportunity to create genuinely unique works). MySpace Music had every artist following a formulaic “music marketing” plan. Tunecore, while  a game changer in distribution, can also blamed for creating a wasteland of deserted music projects on iTunes servers.

Technology isn’t a substitute for ingenuity or creativity. If anything, it should foster imaginative art. Because of programs like Pro Tools, artists can start at a baseline of quality today that would have cost 10 times as much a decade ago.

Ask just about any musician what their plan is for their next release and I’m sure you’ll hear something like: a) make social media profiles; b) build a YouTube page and put a few performance videos up; c) Use Twitter to tell fans about my performances and album release; etc…

I’m challenging every musician recording and/or releasing an album to do something creative with the technology they’re using…make great music! Don’t use technology as an excuse to take shortcuts; use it as a catalyst to go the extra mile. Experiment with microphone techniques…it’s not like you’re limited to the amount of takes you can do because of tape. Make some new sounds…we’re tired of hearing the same sonic palette we heard in the last Danja,David Guetta, or Polow da Don track. See what your song sounds like WITHOUT putting a gratuitous amount of Autotune on the vocal tracks…you might just like what you hear (If you don’t, either take some voice lessons or consider a different career path).

I know technology didn’t REALLY kill the musician, but I do think that it’s making it harder to find the real ones. What do you think?

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  • Michaelcalifornia

    I think this is spot on.  Here is an analogy that I share with young artists.

    If you were stranded on an island, you would, as a matter of necessity, become very creative in terms of living, shelter, food, etc.  And you would become tough.

    But by living in a modern world with amenities, you become soft.  

    Recording is the same way.  When we only had 48 tracks, and a handful of out board equipment, we worked hard at creating new sounds, tones, and the like.

    Today, young bands have a plethora of plug-ins, software, and the like.  

    What I see are young musicians who confine themselves to what the computers do, and tend to not be as creative as they could (i.e. george martin with the beatles, etc)

    just a thought 🙂

    michael – nashville