NXNE 2013: Tomorrow Never Knows, Producing Music in 2013
We are all guilty of downloading content online. It is just the way technology has developed from Napster to Limewire and now platforms like iTunes and Netflix are consistently changing the way that media is being obtained and shared. Technology has also allowed for people to create their own sounds and music in the comfort of there own home without ever stepping inside a fully loaded studio. Combined with the rise of Youtube, there is a new category of musicians called “YouTube Stars.” During the session Tomorrow Never Knows, Producing Music in 2013, we sat down with drummer of Black Eyed Peas, Keith Harris, producers Moe Berg, Michael Phillip Wojewoda, and Jon Drew to chat about the changing music industry and what that means for everyone.
One thing that every one agreed on, is that technology is not something to be feared. Technology has brought a new way of producing music in all aspects. It doesn’t cheapen the process, as some people would have thought, but in some sense, creates a seamless transition between processes from turning a song into an album to be sold to the masses. It has given new ways to improve the sounds of music by allowing sound engineers to use programs like Pro Tools to produce high quality music. Programs like Pro Tools has also gave way for musicians to create and produce their own music without having to join formally with a label or producer. One thing that should not be overlooked is that while technology has brought great improvement, the producers still appreciate the vintage uses of analog devices. There will always be new technology and new music trends, but like everything else, there is always the cycling of trends. Take artists like Bruno Mars and Olly Murs for example, both have amazing sounds but have also brought back flavours of older times making it popular once again.
Acoustics is another topic covered. With the digital age and everything becoming electronic, does it mean that acoustic sounds and instruments will soon be forgotten? Definitely not. All musicians start off their music career as a child playing the piano or guitar (and other instruments) learning the basics before progressing into something more advanced as an electrical instruments. What amazed me was the fact that even with all this new technology and bells and whistle additions to musical instruments, at the core of it all, acoustic sounds and instruments are still center to music. There is something about playing music with basic sounds that everyone loves. It is knowing that an artist can actually sing, can actually play an instrument that make music so captivating and enjoyable.
Even though musicians are able to produce music independently and that the public can download music (though they really should look to support the artists they love) the producers are still invaluable to artists and labels. Most people overlook the role of the producer, but a producer is someone who makes the artist even better. During the panel, the producers said that a producer to an artist is like an editor to a writer. The writer can write, and have brilliant ideas, but the editor is the one who makes it better and presents the complete final package. It is similar in the world of music. Producers produce and are part of the music producing process, but they bring a lot more than people realize. They bring the funds, they bring the expertise, and most importantly, they are an artists advocate and connection to the right channels. The producers are the people who support the artist, connecting them with labels to make them successful. Without them, the artists that we all love would not be where they are today.
This interactive session had taught me that technology is blurring the lines between what it possible and not possible in the process of creating music. But there are still integral parts of the process like the producers who really separate a good musician from a great musician.