“New Music Center of the World” Austin Texas? Your Bedroom?
Where's the musical center of the world? New York, Phili, Motown, Liverpool, San Francisco? Perhaps in the Bebop hippy and disco days when bands like Led Step & Funk dominated the radio waves . But Austin TX?
SXSW (South by SouthWest) Music Festival 2012 is making a good case for Austin. Hundreds of artists, some well-known like the Strokes and Weaser, but tons of fresh cutting-edge sounds came to Austin to redefine what is hip and kool, and wowed the audiences.
What is fascinating to me (and here is where the technology part comes in), is that many of these groups or artists don't come from the usual places. In times past, a band started off as a "garage band", and then had to "earn it's stripes" by playing, performing live in front of a live audience. They evolved as a visual act as well as a musical act. Then, after years of playing "Dives" and County Fairs, they were "Discovered" Promoted, and recorded. Then, at that point, they would beg and pledge their souls to record companies and producers to "give them a chance" and some "air time" on the radio. Then, if they were lucky"!.
This new breed started off in the bedroom (so to speak) using a laptop computer to create and record their sound. Then with a stroke of a mouse, their music is uploaded to sites like YouTube, and watch it go "Viral", meaning that folks that find and like the music, texted the link to others, and within days they might have a million or more listeners. And believe you me, there were lots of recording companies and producers harmed in the process.
The technology is not new. Back in the early 90s whilst promoting manufacturing technology to the likes of Ford, Nissan, and Allison, I spent my evenings installing computerized analog recording systems and midi system to folks that wanted to play in a band but couldn't deal with the hassle of playing with real musicians. Example, if you played guitar and sang, you could write a song, plug in bass, rhythm guitar, horns, keyboard, and drums on your computer, and produce a fantastic original CD to play to your friends. And you didn't have to worry about the drummer being late, the keyboard players attitude, or the bass player stealing your wife. And if you wanted to practice between 1-3 am, the whole band was there at your beck and call, because it was all in your computer.
I thought it was Kool back in "˜92 when that guy showed up in Hilton Head and played all our favorite songs, sounded just like the original bands, horns and all, and it was just him, his guitar, and his computer. It was amazing. But then it "crashed and burned" when Milli Vanilli screwed up on the Grammy Awards. You might have played every track in the computer, but if you did not perform each note live, to the audience, it wasn't real, it was "Memorex"! Then, every act, band, and performer had to play "unplugged" just to prove they were the "real deal".
But today, Milli Vanilli memories have faded, and it's ok to record all of your stuff on a computer and play it for an audience. Now days, you could go from laptop to viral in a week and nobody ever sees you play anything. And the technology is very inexpensive. You can find all kinds of horns, strings, and drums tracks and sounds on the internet, download them, and add them to the mix.
Here is a breakdown of a basic system (if you don't want to sing or play a keyboard, all you need is the computer and Audacity):
|Laptop capable of recording 24 analog tracks and 256 midi tracks||Toshiba Satellite A665-S6081||599.99|
|Voice and Instrument Quality Microphone||Sure Beta Sm58||159.99|
|Keyboard for input to the Laptop||Korg Micro key USB Midi Keyboard||99.99|
|Audio / Midi Editor - Sequencer - MultiTrack Recorder Software||Audacity||Free|
What is also evident by listening to some of the new music, is that they are so elaborate, it would be very expensive to recreate a live act with all of the instruments.
"Rock ‘n' Roll is here to stay", some "like both kinds of music, country and western", but some of us are looking for something different. If you want to hear it on the internet or see the video, that's fine, check out YouTube or the SXSW link. But if you want to see it live, Go to Austin next year. OR make it up on your own computer in your bedroom and upload it to the internet. Who knows, it may go viral!