With the incredible growth in music technology, music production has been taken out of the hands of the few and placed into the hands of the masses.
Modern music is in the midst of a revolution. Less than a generation ago, music was confined to well-defined genres aimed at pleasing radio stations, record companies, and those all-important key demographics. The music industry of yesterday was built in such a way that keeping these genres separate made it easier and more efficient to sell a product. The overhead needed to produce, record, press, and distribute a song was substantial. Artists needed large corporations to have any hope of reaching more than a regional audience. Record companies needed guaranteed ways to market artists, and that led to defined categories. Great music was still made, but, in today’s advanced world of technology and affordable marketing, artists’ potential is unlimited in scope and creation.
Until recently, music production consisted of record companies investing money in an artist to (at times, painstakingly) record his song, have an engineer mix the song, have a separate team master the song, and then pay to distribute and advertise the song in hopes of reaching an audience. The whole cycle was disjointed and took a significant amount of time to evolve into an actual song or album. If the song was a hit, then the time, effort, and money spent was rewarded. However, this process could also lead to artistic compromise, unfair business practices, and, in many cases, a talented artist still went unheard.
Technological advances, including the internet, MIDI controllers, and affordable home audio work stations, have made it possible to create and provide a wide variety and volume of music to fans. You can compose a song that includes a full symphony orchestra mixed with club beats on a very basic MIDI keyboard that comes prepackaged with recording and mixing software. Once completed, that song can be distributed on a band website or iTunes. The next great pop or club song can be created and distributed in a day.
In today’s music environment, a producer or DJ can create, mix, and distribute music online at a fraction of the cost it would have taken twenty years ago. Now that this commercial imperative imposed by record companies has essentially been removed, we will continue to witness the rise of a more “experimental” approach to making music. This music can, and will, be a truly global music that incorporates elements of every genre of music you could imagine.
What does this mean for the sounds of the future? Luckily, it means that classifications of music are quickly becoming obsolete. Artists have worked to break down these barriers in the past without the ease of modern recording technology. The African musician, Fela Kuti, is a prime example of an artist who fused disparate types of music, including jazz, funk, West African chants, and even psychedelic rock, to create a very fresh and unique sound dubbed Afrobeat.
This fusion of genres grew with the advent of hip-hop music. Electronic technology allowed artists to sample old records for a sonic base and create a music driven by a new approach to lyrics and beat. Notable examples of blending genres in this way include Run-DMC and Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way,” Jay-Z’s work with Punjabi MC, and Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz project.
More fusion and experimentation in music will lead to more variety and possibility. Undoubtedly, some music purists will still beckon for the “good old days” when styles of music were distinct and artificially separated. Hopefully, they will come to realize that embracing modern tools can lead to even greater enjoyment of the music they love and open their minds to genres they ignored before. The new platforms allow for a much more fluid and natural approach to creating and enjoying music of all kinds.
Now that the shackles of how music is created and marketed have been broken, you can take your music venture as far as your inspiration and motivation take you. Several online tools exist to aid artists in easily creating their music and expanding the sonic envelope. UMIX.com and REMIX.com allow you to create your own mixes without previous knowledge of technical music production techniques. You can create and distribute your DJ mix on these platforms for free. We’re democratizing the production, modification, and distribution of music on a global scale.
We have also developed an Android app for Smartphones that allows you to remix music you love and share it with your entire social network via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or UMIX.com itself. You can now add your own flourishes and new grooves to that cherished song. Truly, anyone can be a DJ or music producer.
Technology has empowered artists to break down barriers in how music is created and perceived by the world. Past musical pioneers began to open the doors by exploring how music could be synthesized and promoted. You can continue that trend by letting your creativity flow in your own advanced and affordable home studio. True musical freedom is a modern-day reality.
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