In all spheres of life, advancement in any technology always alters the way things are done. Since the 1960s, recording and production of music have changed over the years to accommodate the new tools provided by technology. For example, the advent of electronic production has changed the role of producers in the sense that they cannot listen to the music that is being worked on in the recording process or the methods used to capture the performances (Crews, 2012). As such, producers do not get the chance to listen to their music products unlike during the era of George Martin and Phil Spector where one could listen and enjoy the music as the production progressed. As Seabrook (2013) and Crews (2012) post, melody was the heart of quality music products in days of Spector and Martin and, therefore, producers could listen and buy their products like other listeners but this is no longer the case with the proliferation of digital tools in the industry.
With the digital technology, producers have to come up music formats that are compatible with digital distribution channels that are available in the internet age. During the times of Spector and Martin records were offered in the form of high- resolution vinyl that was made directly from the master tape (Crane, 2008). However, the advent of digital technology has introduced new avenues which have, in turn, created new consumer needs that producers need to meet for them to reach to a wider audience. According to Crane, development of high-res digital discs and high-res files and also creating content that can be downloaded from the web is part of the new era of recording and production. As a result, instruments in the studio have disappeared from scene. These tools have been supported by the proliferation of digital media platforms such as Youtube and iTunes. Often, producers make soft releases to these platforms so as to get feedback from consumers before official release of the records (Seabrook, 2013). This allows them to get the feedback that allows them to improve the quality of their content before it is eventually released.
During the heyday of Spector and Martin, sound mattered a lot in music production. Producers listened through production, and the songs were done on tape. The presence of music was felt by sound and not the lyrics. Additionally, producers were at the center of the creative, technical and organizational aspects of the production process. Producers were further required to learn the scales and chords. (Crews, 2012).Advancement in computing technology has seen the development of programs such as Pro Tools which offer vital support to editing of music. These techniques have reduced the number of personnel needed not only to produce a song but also distribute to potential clients. Although technological advancements in the music production industry have significantly changed the way sound is captured, tools such as the use of tape remain a major asset for producers. Today, the core concept of mixing is very similar to what happened in the 1960s and the chords and scales are also the same (Crane, 2008).
As indicated in the previous paragraphs, earlier definition of a producer as an individual responsible for creativity and organization of music production. As such, they had to play the piano as well as learn notes in each scale (Seabrook, 2013). This explains the massive influence that producer had on recording since they could listen to the recording. With advent of digital sampling, however, a significant disconnect has been created with the model of producing music practiced in the 1960s and 1970s.For example, the role of the producer as the sole controller of sound in the production room has changed as it is no longer necessary for producers to listen through the production process(Crane, 2008).The innovation of digital sampling facilities has enabled producers to create sounds that do not necessarily conform to the natural, physical environment. Such creation means that recording can longer be confined to the controlled studio environment. Evidently, this is a significant breakaway from what producers were accustomed to in the early eras of recording.
Digital sound sampling and the entire music production on virtual environments stands out as a critical innovation in modern era. The new technological environment demands that production is re-engineered to reflect the realities in the music industry such as access to music on online platforms. As indicated by Seabrook (2013), this online craze has disturbed the concept of physical studio environment, and as such, quality of the sound (which is the bedrock of any music product) has been eroded. However, these concerns of quality are being addressed by some players in the music. For example these players have come up with after-market devices that seek to improve the quality of sound. As a result, music production has been integrated with functions such as manufacture and distribution of records (Crane, 2008). As technology becomes more permissive into the music industry, significant developments can be expected in production especially in virtual environments as way of exploiting new recording opportunities.
Crane, L. (2008). "T-Bone Burnett: Recording and Love".
Crews, E. (2012). "Merrill Garbus and Tune-Yards".
Seabrook, J. (2013). "The Doctor is in". The New Yorker.
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