Updated: Nov 10, 2022
It's a great time to be a musician. Technology has advanced to a point where almost everyone can record a song in their home studios, bringing their words and music to life without spending a ton of money. New technology has changed almost every aspect of our lives in the 21st century.
When it comes to music, technology has changed everything. From the way musicians record music to the way the masses listen to music, it's a whole new world in 2019. Here are a few tech tools that have completely transformed modern music-making and listening.
1. Home Computers
Starting with the very basics, the personal home computer has completely revolutionized the music industry. Computers have allowed musicians to write, record, produce, and distribute music all from the comfort of their homes. Musicians can create music on PCs, laptops, tablets, and even smartphones, something that artists from the past could scarcely imagine.
2. The Internet
It almost goes without saying these days, but the invention of the internet had a huge impact on the music industry. 1989 was the year that changed the world, and in the 30 years that have passed, our world has been transformed. From music's online beginnings with music-sharing sites like Napster to YouTube and today's streaming services, the internet is the foundation on that today's music is built.
3. Digital Multitrack Recording
At this point, it is easy to take multitrack recording on a DAW system for granted. It's pretty much part of every musician's life. Let's take a second to stop to think about how incredible this really is. Think back to just a few decades ago, when sound engineers had to record an entire song in just one take onto one track. Now, we can record as many different instruments and sounds as we want and edit them together at will. That's a pretty amazing piece of tech.
DAWs, or Digital Audio Workstations, have totally transformed the music writing and producing environment. Although it is always the best idea to get your songs professionally mixed and mastered, any musician can create the initial mix in their home studio using the latest digital technology.
4. Smartphones and MP3 Players
It isn't just the way music is created that has changed dramatically. The way we consume music is completely different than it was even a few years ago. First came the iPod MP3 player from Apple, which astonished the world with its incredible ability to bring your digital music collection with you wherever you went. Then, smartphones came along. This expanded our options even further, with a huge variety of apps to control, organize, and listen to your music library.
5. Digital Streaming Services
Digital streaming services have further changed the landscape of both music distribution and consumption. The idea of streaming music from the cloud would have seemed like science fiction in the past. Now, it is how the majority of people listen to their music every day. It also allows musicians to get their music out to the public, no matter what style of music it is.
Streaming services even get to know your music preferences and create playlists accordingly. Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, and YouTube Red are just some of the more popular streaming services out there.
6. Loop Pedals
This is a technological invention that had a huge impact on live music. Suddenly, instead of needing an entire backup band to play live, a solo musician could sound like a band just by pushing a few buttons. Loop pedals allow one musician to sound like a full band, complete with drums, bass, and any other instrument you can think of.
Musical Instrument Digital Interface, or MIDI, is another technology that changed the way people make music. MIDI lets musicians synchronize and play different electronic instruments at the same time. This technology has been around a long time, since 1983, when MIDI-enabled synthesizers broke onto the scene. Other MIDI devices, like the Roland drum machine, redefined entire genres of music.
While the concept of MIDI can seem a little complex, you can think of it basically as devices passing messages to each other. Music is encoded numerically and communicated using the MIDI protocol. This allows musicians to create sonic marvels using nothing more than a synthesizer.
For better or for worse, off-key singing is no longer a barrier to stardom. Auto-tune technology emerged in the late 90s when producers started using it to correct questionable studio takes. Notes are instantly corrected to the closest semi-tone, giving any vocal perfect pitch. Auto-tune can be used subtly or exaggerated to create obvious effects.
Digitally compressing a track during mastering creates greater loudness overall, removes peaks, and boosts the low end. In the beginning, MP3s suffered from low-quality compression. Today, streamed audio has a much higher quality due to the latest advancements in compressor technology. Every modern studio engineer makes use of compression to get a track to sound its very best.
One of the biggest technological advancements to come along is the art of mastering a track. Mastering a song in the proper format is a skill that can take years to perfect. Some of the different formats of music that can be released these days include:
All these formats require different things from a WAV file, which is where mastering comes in. A properly mastered track will be ready for distribution in whatever format the musician chooses for playback. Most studios will combine aspects of digital and analog mastering to get the ideal sound.
These are a few of the tech innovations that have changed musicians' lives in the digital age. For the true finishing touch to your technological masterpiece, you need professional mixing and mastering. You can use your own DAWS and home studio, but professional help can make an important difference, and get you the best final result. Contact us to get all your options.