New Music Industry: Monitoring the Rise of Technology in Music
Big recording and production studios are closing their doors. Records are not taking quite as long to produce with tedious strain on captivating the right sound. The days of Abbey Road are no longer, and musicians are recording songs in their bedroom with their own computer software.
As the world begins to morph into the digitally compelling era of computer innovation, music falls directly into that category of change and re-birth. Maybe your music habits have changed too, diverging from the traditional pop culture tune and your staple 2006 jams by Nelly Furtado or Justin Timberlake to more of the indie-alt-electronica take, something that Boston seems to provide endlessly at small house shows and venues. Perhaps you remember listening to bands such as The Shins, Modest Mouse, Sublime—the groups that delivered the purest form of acoustic and strings that forge together song with the instruments that they play without the assistance of digitalized sound many years ago.
“Almost all of the music I hear today is digitally re-touched. If we have the technology at hand, why not use it?” said John O’Toole (CAS ’16).
The 1990s marked the commercial breakthrough of electronic music, according to E&T Magazine. At a time when larger studios were the only parties that could afford and sustain top-quality recording and production equipment nearly a decade ago, technology has elicited a spike in self-recording studios that gave musicians access to the essential tools in music production and recording, giving rise to the new era of electronic music.
“I generally hear little acoustic in bands today, especially in Boston” said Luke Rosenfeld (CAS ’16) a local pianist and keyboardist. “Everything is plugged in.”
Today, the music industry is comprised of the generic four-person band: bass, guitar, drums and maybe keyboard, but there is something now that groups are relying on to perform and contour their sound.
“Any serious musician these days is going to have a synthesizer and a way of saving their recordings on a computer,” said Rosenfeld. “A computer is by far the easiest way for any band to compose and edit their music.”
It’s common to walk into any Boston venue and to see amps and cords scattered across the stage as the audience waits for the band to perform.
“You’ll see a lot of musicians play live with a synth on hand to digitalize their music during a performance,” said Rosenfeld. “The genre of music in Boston is becoming more punk rock and electric with the assistance of a synth now and is becoming mainstream.”
Modern indie groups that are performing today such as Tame Impala, Flume and even MGMT (who were one of the first to utilize audio production and digitalization in their recordings) are generating the psychedelic pop-funk trend that are being played more frequently at local house shows.
“The software is making it easier for musicians to sequence tracks, add distortion, echo effects and layering, which is something that you wouldn’t have heard 15 years ago,” said Stacey Cunnington (COM ’17). “You can even see them play with the audio tools on stage during a performance and the audience can immediately hear the result.”
With the use of technology constantly at our fingertips, it’s natural to say that we have become accustomed to wanting something rapidly—music is becoming that way, too. As musicians are adapting to on-hand improvisation on stage in front of an audience with the use of an electric component, the definition of music is digitalizing a new breed.
“The house shows I see in Allston are never the same,” said O’Toole. “People want to hear music now and loud. Technology is giving us that option.”