Garageband: Don't Let the Haters Get You Down.
November 24, 2017 11:24 PM   Subscribe

The democracy of sound: is Garageband good for music? Along with open-source recording software like Audacity, which was originally released in 1999, GarageBand has allowed women to freely explore audio recording without being discriminated against. "As a woman, I was used to being undermined and having my creative abilities doubted and my physical allure pitted against me," says Pringle. "I knew I could make something interesting in GarageBand, so I stuck with it and didn't let the haters get me down." posted by mecran01 (58 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
"Anybody who thinks they can write a song can do it now, and a lot of the time, they're pretty shitty songs," says Garver. "It's hard to find those gems."

This is the point where I decided that GarageBand was good for music - I'm pretty sure they said the same thing about drum machines, and they've definitely said the same thing about the Internet. I'm very much in the "the internet has a lot of bad to it" camp but removing gatekeepers is definitely not one of those bad things.
posted by Merus at 11:48 PM on November 24, 2017 [32 favorites]

Have people forgotten that music used to be played and sung in homes for pleasure, before the recording industry came into being and made most people feel like their own music wasn't good enough to share? I'm pro-Garageband, myself.
posted by davejay at 12:24 AM on November 25, 2017 [43 favorites]

Interesting article. As to the question: is it good for music?
It's less making "music a democracy" and more removing the "meritocracy" barrier to recording.
The result is more golden nuggets in total, but the ratio of gold to sludge has disimproved. There is great music to be found but it takes more time.
posted by therubettes at 12:27 AM on November 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Interesting article. As to the question: is it good for music?
It's less making "music a democracy" and more removing the "meritocracy" barrier to recording.
The result is more golden nuggets in total, but the ratio of gold to sludge has disimproved. There is great music to be found but it takes more time.

I think music will be fine. This isn't solely the domain of audio - the internet has allowed us to document all the creative acts which would've otherwise sat in our cupboards or on our hard drives, and curation (in either the ideological or practical sense) still hasn't caught up. If no solution emerges, it may not be good for music; but GarageBand is really concerned with creation - not distribution - and it strikes me as more of a distribution problem so I'm willing to let GarageBand off the hook here.
posted by solarion at 12:40 AM on November 25, 2017

There is great music to be found but it takes more time.

Given the massive efficiency savings brought by the Internet in accessing and evaluating music, I don't find this to be true at all. Yeah, there's more music out there, but I just listen to it and decide whether it's likely to be my sort of thing, instead of having to make an arrangement to go to a record shop to ask to have something played, and then have to decide whether I'm going to buy there and then or mull it over, etc etc.

I find more good music to listen to now than I've ever found before.
posted by howfar at 1:05 AM on November 25, 2017 [13 favorites]

The rare headline question mark that doesn’t lead to a “no”
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:26 AM on November 25, 2017 [5 favorites]

I owe the entire existence of my music recordings to GarageBand and Audacity. Those that listen to my music may question whether that’s a good thing, but I certainly have enjoyed myself and I’m very grateful for GarageBand iOS despite otherwise loathing my iPhone. GarageBand iOS for a beginner songwriter is just amazing. It’s dead easy to demo things, and there’s a small amount of the super techy stuff under the hood that can prepare you for a more complete DAW or synth.

One awesome side effect of GarageBand’s popularity is Ableton has actually started providing decent tutorials and affordable prices for Live. So when people tire of GarageBand’s limitations or get annoyed at the increase of “self-playing” instruments the transition is easier.
posted by cyphill at 5:29 AM on November 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

GarageBand is great, and the people who shit on it are the same ones who think you shouldn’t drive a car with an automatic transmission or buy a pre-built PC, ie assholes.

Digital music production sucks. It’s hard and complicated and things never, ever work the way they’re supposed to. Everybody has a song in them, and anything that makes them easier to get out is a good thing. You don’t need to know about granular synthesis and ASDR envelopes and compression ratios to create something meaningful.

Can you make music to commercial standards with nothing but GarageBand? Not really. But who says it has to be “commercial?”
posted by uncleozzy at 5:46 AM on November 25, 2017 [13 favorites]

The mastering engineer is way off-base here: anyone who's serious about digital music production still uses mastering engineers. They aren't going anywhere. Spend enough time in a DAW and you'll quickly realize that you can't master your own shit yourself. It's not that expensive to email your tracks off to an engineer who knows what they're doing. Now, if he REALLY knew what he should complain about, he'd (rightly) object to the rise of online algorithmic mastering services, which promise to master your song in seconds for a price way below that of actual human engineers.

Also, I 100% agree that we are so much better off without the tyranny of gatekeepers. We used to have a handful of labels picking our music for us; now we have Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Things are much better now!
posted by Frobenius Twist at 6:14 AM on November 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

I use Garage Band myself, but still rue the demise of the gatekeepers. One way to look at it is to compare the fate of popular songs to that of poetry. 120 years ago, poetry had gatekeepers in the form of publishers, and the editors of journals and magazines, and poems enjoyed high status in the popular and literary culture. But so many people wanted to get in on the game, and the gatekeepers stretched their standards so far to accommodate them, that the whatever once defined good poetry as opposed to bad poetry is no longer generally understood (I certainly don't understand it). So it is that millions of people are writing poetry today, and there may be more good poetry out there than ever. But without gatekeepers and standard-bearers, who has the time or inclination to find it?

And written poetry has zero status in the culture (I'm not counting rap or oral poetry).

So it is with popular music. The discipline imposed on musicians and songwriters by the 2-minute single, and the crass demands of Top 40 radio programming produced a Golden Age of popular music that died with the beginning of free-form FM radio in the 70s.

As a creator I resent gatekeepers. But as a consumer, I welcome them.

For a deeper dive into this, see Wordsworth's "Nuns Fret Not" (via the well-and privately funded Poetry Foundation).
posted by Modest House at 6:40 AM on November 25, 2017 [7 favorites]

I see it as both bad and good. Good in that it's easier to get an idea down relatively quickly. Bad in that it floods the market with complete crap. I used to have to sort through all new releases coming out on Spotify/etc. each week and for every indie artist using new technology to produce something creative, you'd see 20 just churning out bad covers or even using popular known titles/artist names to scam people into buying their song instead of the one the person actually wanted. I'm looking at you, "Ed Sheeran".
posted by downtohisturtles at 7:23 AM on November 25, 2017

now we have Bandcamp and Soundcloud

Soundcloud loses CEO as it struggles to find funding (August 2017).

It's unfortunate that Bittorrent hasn't been used to systematically share and/or evaluate amateur music, which could bypass the overhead involved with centralized distribution.

Here is a link to an archive of Grimes' original tutorial on Ableton from the above link.

Modest House is my new favorite Mefi username
posted by mecran01 at 7:28 AM on November 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

Cool edit pro was the best limewire and Winamp 4 ever why GarageBand do you try so hard to be acid cause acid sucked with all that time stretching and painting garbage.

But in the end most of what I record with these days is GarageBand.
posted by Annika Cicada at 8:13 AM on November 25, 2017 [5 favorites]

The main issue with gatekeepers is that they often only let in what they consider "right", which can be very problematic at the producing level. Stuff like Garageband allows people with the "wrong" ideas to develop them into something "right" at their own terms, instead of doing "right" by what the producer wants. One of the best examples I've seen was a demo from a guy I used to know - it was raw, powerful and somewhat unique. He paid something like €500 to have it professionally re-recorded and produced and the result was... uh... what was the result again? Oh yeah, a complete borefest that I had heard 1000+ times before.
I mean, when I bought my guitar, I had "advice" from a bunch of people that only knew how to play little more than our version of Wonderwall, a few Nirvana songs and Metallica ballads to impress girls. The only person that wasn't too bothered with my Dick Dale-isms or playing guitar like a bass was an actual music teacher.

you'd see 20 just churning out bad covers or even using popular known titles/artist names to scam people into buying their song instead of the one the person actually wanted.
That's not even new. I recall countless tapes from the late 80s and early 90s with covers from Top40 stuff, brazilian telenovelas, etc. My mother probably has a few of those.
posted by lmfsilva at 8:18 AM on November 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

(Actually I use a refurbished Tascam 244 to do my multitracking and mixing and then dump all the final stereo mixes into GarageBand so’s I can share them on the inter webs with people)
posted by Annika Cicada at 8:19 AM on November 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

As to the above discussion about gatekeepers, I'm hoping that bots will eventually learn my tastes and recommend me things with a high degree of accuracy. They can certainly learn my tastes better than me spending effort trying to find a reviewer that shares my tastes better than 30% or so. That’s one of the things I miss about not using Pandora anymore — it wasn't terribly good at it, but it did surface things that I liked on its “stations” with somewhat greater regularity than Apple Music does now (which I use now because of family reasons).

That said, add this article to the long list of those in power fretting about the democratization of _____ leading to lazy work, a glut of newcomers, and the ignoring of established experts and gatekeepers:
  • Is YouTube good for television?
  • Is Avid (or any NLE) good for movies?
  • Is Pro Tools good for music?
  • Is PageMaker good for publishing?
  • Is WordStar good for books?
  • Are camcorders good for movies?
  • Are tabulating machines good for accounting?
  • Is the Gutenberg press good for manuscripts?
  • Is the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil good for creation? :P
posted by mboszko at 8:37 AM on November 25, 2017 [7 favorites]

I love GarageBand. I'm not a musician, but I can use it to make, to my ears, some pleasing sound. Though, I really can't get a handle on the iOS version of the thing, and always default to the desktop Mac version.

In a way, both GarageBand and Pages are Apple's one-two punch insofar as "democratizing" apps go.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:37 AM on November 25, 2017

I love how GarageBand and Pages and other Apple apps run locally on your machine and aren't subscription cloud services.
posted by hippybear at 8:42 AM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I started playing the bass in about 1976. In the late 70's the only way for kids to record anything was with a cassette player stuck on the floor of the room, in mono, until a friend sprung for a Teac 40/4 reel to reel that could record 4 tracks at once. That was a big deal, because we could do a little mixing & overdubbing, but it was still very obviously a home project and there was a WIDE gulf between that & and a real recording studio with iso booths & good microphones.

I didn't see the inside of a real studio until 1980, & we spent a small fortune recording a 4 song demo. In '83 or so, the first 4-track cassette machines came along that were relatively affordable, offering the same abilities as the reel-to-reel decks, but at a fraction of the operating cost, & it was a great creative tool. I used them for songwriting purposes, & still treasure a few of the things I actually finished on that medium, some bounced again & again to my stereo deck to free up 2 more tracks for overdubs. You needed all your outboard gear, though -- you had to have all the instruments, echoes, etc. I got a lot of life out of a Roland TR 707 & then a Yamaha drum machine in those days, just to have a beat to play along with, but we recorded real drums as well, when there was a kit around. Again, very much a home-sounding quality, that stood in stark contrast to real studios.

I didn't see the inside of a 24-track studio until '83, & it was so expensive that I got so nervous I couldn't play, & had to scrub an afternoon to get my wits about me. Session work started to come in though, & my bands were more & more springing for studio time, and I made sure to study the engineers as closely as possible and I learned a good bit about how to record music by being a curious pest & asking questions.

When DAW's came along that were good & fast enough to use, I dithered a bit, but finally sprung for Logic 5 in about 2002 & a lot of the knowledge I'd gained watching engineers in real studios transferred right over into the digital approximation. Still, you had to get your music onto the computer in the first place, & the best I could spring for at the time was a 4-channel PCI card from M-Audio with w 1/4 cables dangling out the back.

It was hard to get logic 5 & 6 set up to record real instruments, so it was a frustrating tool for use as a notepad when I had ideas -- the old cassette 4-tracks were much better for those "hey, here's a bass line, I need a drum beat & something to slap it down on before I forget it" moments.

Garage band fixed all that & more. Not only was it super-easy to just use a 1/4-ich to mini-phone adapter to plug a bass into a mic in on the computer, it was ready to record with maybe 2 mouse clicks, so it because my notepad of choice, even though I owned Logic. What's more, it had drum sets & keyboard sounds included, even in the early versions, which Logic charged a hell of a lot for as add-ons in those days, so it opened up a whole world of fleshing out those ideas, if I could get a good enough bass track. You can hear some of those results in Music.Metafilter -- I've posted a few.

As Logic has been upgraded over the years, they've added in all the synths & drum machines, & it's a ton easier to get it going for recording a new idea, so I don't use Garage Band too much any more, though it still does some things more simply that Logic. I have a decent 8-channel Focusrite Firewire digital interface now, & have done a lot of recording with it.

& yes, the difference now between what you can do in Garage Band or Logic is that you can tell it's not recorded by Bob Clearmountain, but the fidelity is there. 24-bit recording through a good audio/digital converter (decent USB boxes can be had for a couple hundred bucks) is just not THAT far from a Real Recording Studio if you know how to point a mic & the basics of mixing & applying effects.

It's a double-edged sword for me, though. I have friends who are very good professional audio engineers, mixers & producers who are finding it hard-to-impossible to get work doing those things, & the session playing days dried up for me in the late 90's, so I simultaneously love & resent the DAW revolution.

I don't know that I've for sure purchased any finished product that was completed solely in Garage Band, but I do browse Bandcamp & buy the occasional album there if it so pleases me, god knows where most of those acts would have found the wherewithal to bring their music to the public otherwise, & I'm having a blast recording my bands in multi-track & being able to get presentable mixes out of those recordings.

Also, you can start in Garage Band, & if your song gets too complex for it, or you find yourself limited by its capabilities, you can open it in Logic & there you have your sketchpad idea instantly transferred into a fully-professional recording & mixing environment. I've done that with a few things & the compatibility between the 2 programs has been wonderful.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:45 AM on November 25, 2017 [22 favorites]

As a rule I'm very fond of things that empower people. I always come back to the development of microcomputers, originally and for quite a while viewed as toys by serious people doing serious work, but it turns out that all those nerdy teenagers with their Apple IIs and Commodore 64s and stuff were on to something very big indeed. I feel like video and music production are similar, albeit probably not as revolutionary. Serious professionals doing real work mock while kids (and kids at heart) go about making this new game the important one.

So yeah, I don't use Garageband but I'm glad it exists.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 8:48 AM on November 25, 2017 [5 favorites]

@devilsrancher I love Logic Pro and I’m just trying to get to a point where I have space and a dedicated machine I can run it on again. Logic Pro is an incredible tool.
posted by Annika Cicada at 8:52 AM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Wow, dude. I mean, that Logic Pro... a total tool! /insultvoice
posted by hippybear at 8:55 AM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

My plan is to get a decent IMac and this 22 channel mixing board so I can stem out my 4 track and come at the DAW directly.
posted by Annika Cicada at 8:59 AM on November 25, 2017

Wow, dude. I mean, that Logic Pro... a total tool! /insultvoice


I gather that's sarcasm? Logic is $199.00 for what in the early 80's would have been $500,000.00 worth of gear. It's not a huge barrier to entry if you want to move up from Garage Band.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:00 AM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

It’s sarcasm. It was meant to be funny. Hippybear can razz me like that lol.
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:01 AM on November 25, 2017

It's a joke, taking language used in one context and applying a meaning shift. It's a basic form of humor.
posted by hippybear at 9:01 AM on November 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

this 24 channel mixing board

Whoa, 24-in for 799.00 -- not bad.

It's a basic form of humor.

Sorry. I'll see myself out.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:04 AM on November 25, 2017

In dreams I live in a world where a universal basic income has freed anyone to screw around on garageband all day until there are so many microgenres of music we have to adopt a linnaean system of classification and music criticism is like archeology.
posted by velebita at 9:14 AM on November 25, 2017 [11 favorites]

There's a parallel with Garageband and Bandcamp "democratizing" music in the publishing world, which is the rise of electronic self-publishing via Kindle and Smashwords, etc. In both cases folks in the pro sphere don't think much of it and there's a huge amount of chaff -- and yet (in both cases) actual talent has emerged and has been successful, either on its own terms or by bootstrapping up into a more conventional professional realm.

Asking whether either is "good" for their field seems to me a largely irrelevant question, at least from the creation side of it. On the "pro" end of things as a writer, I can say all the amateur and semi-pro writing you can access online has literally almost no impact on what I do or how I do it. How my work is produced (once I send off the manuscript) and distributed and marketed is different enough that essentially I'm playing a different game than a self-publisher uploading to Smashwords -- not an inherently better game, but a different one. Despite a decade or so of hand wringing about electronic publication by quite a lot of people, in a practical sense it turns out it's been neither a plus or minus to what I do. It's mostly just an additional market, with somewhat different rules. It's not good or bad, it just is.

Likewise, as a deeply amateur musician, I don't think it matters to anyone who regularly charts or works with a label what I do at home with my microphone and DAW, or whether I upload it to Bandcamp or Spotify, or post it to my Web site. They literally don't care. Nor should they; again, what we're doing in terms of production and distribution and marketing is entirely different.

On the consumer side, it seems to me that after a shakeout period, there's not much confusion as to what you're getting on a venue like Bandcamp or Smashwords -- you're getting "indie" work, with all the caveat emptor that implies; not only "buyer beware" but also "be ready to dig for the gems." This is anecdotal, but I don't really know that many people who browse either venue who are scandalized that a lot of work there is rough or unpolished. At this point it's more of a feature than a bug.

I think ultimately the major objection to DIY work is the same one that it's always been. It's about aesthetics -- that the work being presented isn't sufficiently in line with a generalized standard held up for whatever reason. And as always, the answer is: Okay, and? If the recording that I made with Audition software in my home office isn't as smoothly produced as one done at the Power Station by an actual engineer and producer, that's fine. Not everything has to be held to the same standard, or conversely, those holding everything to the same standard might be missing the point. It's all right to say, as a label/publishing house or as a consumer, "if something doesn't hold the standards I find important, I won't take it." It's less all right to suggest your standard is the only objectively relevant one.
posted by jscalzi at 9:16 AM on November 25, 2017 [16 favorites]

In dreams I live in a world...

My dream is similar only there aren't genres, there is just Music, and discussing it is more like PBS Saturday morning cooking shows that teach and aim for excellence than anything else.
posted by hippybear at 9:16 AM on November 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you've got some kind of educational affiliation, Apple offers full copies of Final Cut Pro X, Logic Pro X, Motion 5, Compressor 4, and MainStage 3 in their Pro Apps Bundle for Education for $199.99.
posted by lagomorphius at 9:21 AM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Anything's better than calling professional DJs musicians, right?
posted by humboldt32 at 9:59 AM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

The discipline imposed on musicians and songwriters by the 2-minute single, and the crass demands of Top 40 radio programming produced a Golden Age of popular music that died with the beginning of free-form FM radio in the 70s.

This doesn't really map to any particular era of popular music, except maybe to the very earliest days of 10-inch 78 rpm records, which were limited to two minutes. Certainly it was well over by the seventies; "Hey Jude", which came out in 1968, was 7m 11s. ("MacArthur Park" was even longer.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:01 AM on November 25, 2017

not only that but truly free form FM radio barely lasted into the 70s in many areas if it got there at all
posted by pyramid termite at 10:07 AM on November 25, 2017

I vividly remember an early-00s music TV interview with Tim Finn where the gimmick was anyone in the audience could ask him a question. One hopped-up young lad earnestly put it to him, "Don't you think Pop Idol shows are killing music?" Tim laughed and said as gently as he could that nothing could kill music.

I mean, moral panics about !culture! degrading are nowt new. In hindsight, the idea that the Idol franchise was going to snuff out the world's most popular artform seem ridiculous, and yet it was an omniprescent idea in the reality TV era.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 10:26 AM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

As a creator I resent gatekeepers. But as a consumer, I welcome them.

This a strange perspective to me. I'm thinking about my experience as a fan; I've consumed thousands of stories over the years that would never had made it past a gatekeeper, and enjoyed most of them. Fandom evolved ways to sort through the dreck and make the gems easier to find, without ever preventing people from publishing their dreck online.

People really into a thing are the first response; they read everything about that thing. They give the good stuff positive ratings or recommendations, so when you want to read about the thing, it's easy to find what's good. There are downsides to the "popularity contest" aspects of it; for example, sometimes a story becomes popular just because it contains a particular element and not because of its quality. But no one is sitting around thinking, "You know what would be great? If it was just harder for people to publish their stories. I think we should have someone reviewing them all before they're posted, so we never see the bad ones."

No one thinks that's a good idea.

Like, I think it's interesting that you called yourself a "consumer," because it indicates something about ... I don't know, the difference between someone taking part in a community defined (in part by) creative output, and viewing creative output as a service. One of the reasons no one thinks it's a good idea to gatekeep fanfiction is because that's not how you run a community; that's not how people collaborate or grow, either artistically or socially. Fandom is a communal thing, where music has...somehow become something that's not.

With online music, I see a lot of the same mechanisms. Music bloggers and reviewers who are really into a thing will notice when someone has made a good example of that thing, and promote them. As a music ... consumer... I have so many ways to discover new music. Sure, I won't like a lot of what I hear, but I remember how rarely I listened to radio or watched music TV; there was never a time when I liked what I'm hearing more than right now. The fact that if I randomly play songs off soundcloud I'll encounter a lot of dreck doesn't really matter, because that's not how most of us find new music anyway.

This is a very long-winded way to say that I don't think the lack of gatekeepers are why people don't read poetry anymore.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:36 AM on November 25, 2017 [5 favorites]

Don’t confuse curators with gatekeepers. We need more of the former, less (or none) of the latter.
posted by cyphill at 10:51 AM on November 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'm all for democratizing the arts, as I've said here before. Obviously, you'll get talented people, like DeeDee of the Dum Dum Girls, using the tools, and less talented people using it. But is the influx of unskilled people 'bad for music'? Really? How does the expansion of participants diminish an art form? Isn't increased participation a net gain culturally? Creativity for its own sake is just as important as consumption.

I think it's *great* for music (or any other art form) if anyone and everyone participates. It doesn't mean that it will all be golden, but the variety will be amazing. I've noticed as gentrification killed bohemia in SF, that diversity in the arts is pretty much dead. Only the commercially strong survived. When I go on annual studio art walks, I see very skilled work pretty much consistently, and I see very boring slick work pretty much consistently. (Ugh, so many screen prints of the Golden Gate Bridge and so many paintings and photos of trees) 20 years ago I never knew what I'd find. Some of it was crap, some brilliant and somewhere in between. I personally loved the 'somewhere in between' category because it was usually pretty original. Sure, you'll find a lot of "me too" stuff, but you'll also see those straight out of left field things that make art evolve overall. I think that's one of the reasons that Outsider art was such a big thing 15-20 years ago; it gave us the unpredictable.

IIRC, people worried that punk (or any other X thing, like synthesizers*) would destroy music because anybody could play 3 chords. But punk invigorated a bloated scene and spawned other genres. And now 40 years later, its aftershocks are still being felt. Not bad for only 3 chords.

*My brother played in a garage/roots rock band in the 80s and oh, the disussions I'd have to listen to about the evils of synths and digital recording and cds...shudder....
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 10:58 AM on November 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

If anything, the worst thing that's happened to music has been the advent of professionalization culminating in recording, where music went from being an activity you shared with your family and friends to being a canned mechanical sauce poured on the bland moments of our lives.

Democratizing musical technology can help to reverse that, and bring the act of making music closer to its more noble position, as a way to create and share identity with and for the people we love.
posted by idiopath at 11:15 AM on November 25, 2017 [6 favorites]

The result is more golden nuggets in total, but the ratio of gold to sludge has disimproved. There is great music to be found but it takes more time.

The same forces that allow anyone to publish music also allow anyone to be a curator/critic. You don't have to sort through all the music to find the good stuff, you just need to sort through the critics to find some who frequently recommend music that interests you.

And also the internet makes a critic's earlier work much more accessible so if you find someone whose musical taste matches yours really well, you dont have to wait a week or a month for her next column. You can typically find links to pretty much every musical recommendation she's ever made.
posted by straight at 11:27 AM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

There is great music to be found but it takes more time.

More like "there's so much great music to be found you can't possibly listen to all of it."
posted by atoxyl at 11:35 AM on November 25, 2017 [4 favorites]

At the beginning of this year I decided to take my Spotify subscription more seriously - I'd been using it more for convenience than anything else - and consequently I've found many, many more new things to listen to than in previous years.

I've been following interesting links from Release Radar and generating Radio playlists from tracks I find engaging and dropping things I've found into a dedicated playlist of my own (called, it may amuse some people, 2017: What the Fuck Is Going On?).

My sense is that whereas there was a diverse music industry that contained a wide variety of artists, what has happened over the last few years is that the Industry has consolidated, leaving independent record labels and self-publishers as a separate thing. The digital services (Spotify, Apple Music, etc) need to be able to provide what the Industry has to offer, but it's an opportunity for all the other artists to gain potential access to that audience.

It is possible to tell indie and self-published apart from Industry acts by looking at their artist page (Industry acts will have more lavish and informative pages, though Spotify has recently opened the page up more to artists). But from the point of view of the Spotify customer there's no differential in access. If you go in via a company like RouteNote it needn't cost you anything at all up front. Spotify is no less accessible to artists than Bandcamp, though it is much less convenient and entails a much longer production time.

It's potentially very interesting. The Industry no longer has any interest in competing for vast swathes of the audience, and the artists seem to be more employees of the labels rather than creators. Smaller labels take on much more of an air of curation rather than publishing and aren't a threat to the Industry - it looks to me increasingly like big beasts and small creatures co-existing. In addition, anything I really like, if I track them down on Bandcamp and buy the CD or vinyl, there will often be a handwritten note from the artist themselves (as, for example, I got from Agnés out of La Féline and one of the members of Juniore). More recently my earworms have been Sequoya Tiger and Richard Dawson. Who I have linked because of the enthusiasm I feel for their music. All of them, of course, are on labels of whatever size. But they needn't be. Increasingly they won't be.

Something else that's interesting about Garageband, incidentally, is that it is a subset of Logic Pro X - someone could record in Garageband and send the files to be mixed and mastered in Logic. The tools that are available and affordable for mixing and mastering (I'm a huge fan of Izotope's Ozone, Neutron and RX, but other software is available) and the standardisation of loudness levels across the digital delivery platforms means that it's possible to make a track in Garageband and someone only slightly higher up the food chain can turn it into something that wouldn't sound out of place next to an Industry offering.

Otherwise, across all the media, it's probably going to be the case that creators need to get used to the fact that they're probably not going to be paid very much. If they're an Indie, then it's because they're not generating very much. If they're in the Industry, it's because they are generating more, but the label is keeping more of it. The money is going to be divided up between more and more people (so each individual share gets smaller and smaller), but on the other hand more and more people will be getting something where they wouldn't have been getting anything at all before.

But from the point of view of someone who likes listening to new stuff, it really is a golden age.
posted by Grangousier at 11:47 AM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

The digital services (Spotify, Apple Music, etc) need to be able to provide what the Industry has to offer, but it's an opportunity for all the other artists to gain potential access to that audience.

I think that's not very clear - what I mean is that the digital services, in order to sell to their enormous audience, have to be able to give that audience Taylor Swift or The Beatles or Madonna or whoever, so they need to keep the Industry sweet. This means deals that allow the Industry to extract most of the money (as they always have, to be honest). On the other hand, they provide access to the audience for all these other artists, outside the Industry, who receive much smaller sums (because their audience is that much smaller), but get a larger proportion of that much smaller sum. What I'm interested in is the way this develops, not so much regarding the Industry acts, but everyone else.

That may still not be very clear, but rest assured I'll leave it at that.
posted by Grangousier at 11:56 AM on November 25, 2017

I'm not hearing a lot of discussion here about people who make music 100%, entirely, for themselves. It's not always about the gatekeepers and the crowded marketplace; sometimes it's just about the person making music.

I've recently started playing a bit more again, just for myself, and it's been bringing me a lot of moments of happiness. I'm not practicing for a recital, I'm not planning to record and upload, I'm just learning a new kind of connection with the keys and the frets and the math and the harmonics and all the places you can go with all of that.

I've been buying records since I was five, playing music since about that time, and writing music since, huh, about that time, and I released 20 CDs by other musicians on a little indie record label I ran for several years around the turn of the millennium. I love music. I love hearing other people's music. I occasionally enjoy sharing my own music with other people. But 99% of the time, the music I make is for me. Alone. The fact that I'm not sharing it with anyone else doesn't mean it's not music. And for THAT music, the music I'm making for myself, easy access to tools is an unmitigated good.
posted by kristi at 3:15 PM on November 25, 2017 [5 favorites]

I'm not hearing a lot of discussion here about people who make music 100%, entirely, for themselves.

I think the assumption is that the people making music entirely 100% for themselves don't need the tools to get what they want out of the process.
posted by Merus at 4:30 PM on November 25, 2017

GarageBand is awesome. That it comes free on every Apple product is profound. Anyone (limited by being able to afford an Apple product, at least) can record whatever, right out of the box, and it's super easy to use. You don't even need an INSTRUMENT! Just compose in the piano roll.

I wish I'd had something half as powerful as GarageBand [many] years ago when I had to settle for a Vestax MR300 4 track cassette recorder as the only solution I could afford.

I personally have a preference for standalone hardware devices, but GarageBand is so easy to use that I can wing it on my phone if I have to and import it to Logic later, and being able to capture inspiration in the heat of the moment is where Music actually lives, even if it's not (ahem) "Good Music", and I sincerely appreciate being able to hear (and make) that stuff.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 4:57 PM on November 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

> people making music entirely 100% for themselves don't need the tools to get what they want out of the process

Er, no - quite the opposite.
posted by flug at 5:12 PM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Whatever gatekeepers there were for poetry 130 years ago didn’t keep William McGonagall from writing and publicizing his infamously bad poetry. I’m sure you could name some bad songs that the gatekeepers of music let through.

Of course music or poetry or art from a bygone era seems better than what we have now, because the crap tends to be forgotten. The same will happen with today’s art. You can’t infer from that that music really was better back in the day.

That’s not even touching the highly subjective and culturally bound nature of what is better in music or any other art form. Which is better, rap or country? People of different cultural backgrounds are going to answer differently. And you can’t seriously argue that the gatekeepers of music back when didn’t discriminate against music based on cultural background- they did. They also discriminated against artists based on their race, gender, and other factors.
posted by Anne Neville at 5:33 PM on November 25, 2017

Check out my new #GarageBand #album on #Spotify, Songs Of The Vogon. #indie #lofi #diy
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:43 PM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

MetaFilter: writing and publicizing infamously bad poetry
posted by hippybear at 5:46 PM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

GarageBand is awesome. That it comes free on every Apple product is profound. Anyone (limited by being able to afford an Apple product, at least) can record whatever, right out of the box, and it's super easy to use. You don't even need an INSTRUMENT! Just compose in the piano roll.

It's a funny coincidence for me that we're talking about GarageBand - I wasn't able to take my music laptop with Live and all my fancy plugins with me this weekend, and I've ended up appreciating that GB is installed on every Mac, allowing me to mess around with chord progressions and stuff anyway. I get what they're saying in the article about the new versions trying to smooth over the details a little too much, though. I hadn't used it in years and it took me a while to figure out that yes, you can still view/edit the effect chain on a track - it's just a little harder to find now.

And hell, it is on phones now - I don't know even where to begin with that one but every once in a while I open it up to remind myself that they do, in fact, have DAWs on phones.
posted by atoxyl at 6:03 PM on November 25, 2017

The funny thing about "Garageband" is that the name itself is derived from "Garage Rock" (sometimes called '60s punk or garage punk) a raw and energetic style of rock and roll that flourished in the mid-1960s, most notably in the United States and Canada... Though it is impossible to determine how many garage bands were active in the 1960s, their numbers were extensive. According to Mark Nobles, it is estimated that over 180,000 bands formed in the United States during the period, amongst which several thousand made records."

The original wave of 60's punk was dismissed and denigrated by pretty well everyone as amateurish Stones knock-offs. Nuggets filtered out an interpretation of some of the best of them, of whom a few had went on to become famous rock stars. By now classic Garage Rock is understood as a legitimate musical genre in itself.

As mentioned, the new technology + artistic democratization = a flood of raw art data... Which literally takes ages to sort out...

(Now that I think about it, there's also still piles of files of neglected old classical music scores still to be sorted out...)
posted by ovvl at 6:50 PM on November 25, 2017 [5 favorites]

Cool edit pro was the best limewire and Winamp 4 ever

Hey, guess what the original Winamp guy is up to these days!

(the best part is the old-school "shareware" business model -- you can "evaluate" an unlimited version for as long as you want...)
posted by neckro23 at 8:09 PM on November 25, 2017 [6 favorites]

Hey, guess what the original Winamp guy is up to these days!

Oh no way - I know about REAPER but I didn't realize the Winamp connection.
posted by atoxyl at 9:24 PM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I love Garageband on the iPad. It blows my mind how capable it is, and all I need is a pair of headphones. I've done tons of recording over the years: cassette four-track, 8 and 16 track tape studios, digital studios, and everything is different, but just working on an iPad from anywhere is fantastic. It's also the one app that completely undermines the "tablet is for consumption" argument for me.
posted by snofoam at 5:54 AM on November 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Holy shit I didn't know that Reaper was made by the Winamp people either, that's awesome!

I currently have a Tascam 414 4-track cassette recorder that I need to get some microphones and batteries/AC power unit for so that I can use it. I studied audio engineering in college and excelled at learning ProTools and Logic Pro, but I haven't been recording at all like I use to when I was younger.
posted by gucci mane at 9:38 AM on November 28, 2017

Making music is fun, even for those of us with zero fucking talent whatsoever. I wouldn’t inflict the music I make on anyone else but it sure makes me happy to be able to make it.

I’ve poked around with low end studio equipment like the tascams etc for years, and never wanted to listen to anything I made more than once. Then I got GarageBand, and those four silly tunes I made over a few evenings a few years back? They still make me smile when they come up randomly in my music library.
posted by bigbigdog at 11:27 AM on November 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

I don't know that anyone is following this, but @neckro23, I've been watching the Reaper videos and I'm downloading it. Seriously a great DAW, thank you for mentioning it!!!
posted by Annika Cicada at 6:30 PM on December 1, 2017

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