Music and technology have always had an uneasy relationship. While technology has always sought to push music forward – in the way it is produced, recorded, and promoted – musicians haven’t always followed along.
Recall how Dylan was pilloried by his fans for “going electric”, or how large labels dismissed the threat of online music distribution. Even today, purists often scoff at any music that involves a synthesizer.
While the debate between traditionalists and technologists rages on, there is a tremendous amount of innovation happening in the music industry. From AI-produced music to decentralized distribution, there are a slew of technologies set to change the way we produce and promote music.
We’ll cover three such technologies in this article:
1. Innovative Musical Instruments
For all the innovation in music creation, the basics have largely remained the same. Even the has the same structure – black and white keys – as the piano Mozart used in the 18th century.
That is changing and changing fast. A slew of new products are combining multiple instruments to transform the way we produce music.
Take the Roli Seaboard as an example. This innovative keyboard ditches the black and white keys. The difference isn’t just visual; it also combines a piano with stringed instruments. This makes it possible to do something that isn’t possible with conventional keyboards: bend and slide down notes.
While Roli is an established brand, a number of startups and innovators are jumping into the fray as well. Take the example of , a motion sensitive glove that makes music by reading your gestures.
All this innovation is bringing new sounds and techniques to music creation.
2. The Blockchain
One of the biggest challenges in the music industry is managing artists’ rights. A single track might have dozens of stakeholders – singers, songwriters, producers, managers, collaborators, etc. Ownership isn’t always easy to pinpoint, and royalty structures are often complicated. The songwriter might get 5% of the royalties in one country, 10% in another.
For years, the music industry has worked around this problem by using complicated contracts. Even then, copyright and royalty issues crop up. Larger artists have the legal resources to fight these issues, but smaller artists often don’t.
The blockchain promises to solve this massive problem. Musicians can bypass the usual intermediaries and get paid for their music directly. The blockchain can enable smart contracts that ensures creators get their fair share of royalties in different jurisdictions.
There are already a number of offerings built on the blockchain that are – Musicoin, Mycelia, Jaak.io, among others. We’re still at the starting stages, but these technologies have massive potential.
3. New Music Learning Tools
How we learn music has remained largely unchanged since time immemorial – pick an instrument, find a teacher, and practice for hours.
But that’s changing, thanks to technology. For starters, the music classroom has now gone online. From YouTube to dedicated online platforms, there is a massive amount of learning material on the internet – both free and paid. Whether you’re picking up the guitar or learning how to use a , you can easily find a lesson for it online.
That’s just one aspect of it. There are also physical products that are changing the way we learn music.
For example, . The lights are connected to an app. When you play a particular song on the app, the LEDs light up, showing you which fret to press.
The impact of these learning tools will likely be felt in the coming few years as a new generation of musicians uses them to learn their favorite instruments.
Over to You
The music industry is in a state of flux. The way people are listening to music has already changed drastically from a decade ago. Now, musicians, producers, and distributors are jumping into the fray, adopting technology to disrupt the established order. How these tech innovations play out remains to be seen, but these are certainly exciting times to be a musician.