Why good ideas still matter
In 2015 we can all be DJs, producers, superstars.
At our disposal, we have hugely powerful production machines at our fingertips. We have free access to boosted software, to thousands upon thousands of plug-ins capable of creating any sound, replicating any piece of vintage hardware. We have modern-day superstars making hit singles with several months experience behind them from their parent's houses, and the open-source internet has created a world that eliminates the need to learn and hone a craft into one 5-minute YouTube clip that demystifies the art in an instant.
We have a culture of newcomers entering the world of the music industry wanting instant gratification, wanting to learn how to produce their musical masterworks in under an hour or two. The online matrix of tutorials feeds the new generation's impatient and accelerated charge towards the honeypot, so expertly spoofed in this recent video I found from Mr. Belt & Wezol by Nacho Punch. This open source approach to knowledge is to be lauded in many ways, as it emancipates knowledge from the preserve of the educated elite and into the hands of the masses, but it also removes much of the detail, subtlety, experimentation and the investigative enquiry that comes with playing the long-form of the game.
In the era of the analogue synth, nothing was saved. To create a patch, a sound, the artist would start from a blank template and gradually build the sound from the ground upwards - and in order to save that sound, it was pen & paper time, using a photocopied template of the keyboard's schematic that came with the instrument. Now in many ways I see that as being just as awkward and clunky as the current state of everything-you-want-from-any-instrument-right-now, but what it did do was it focused the mind on the quality of the idea. The vast majority of the musical elements that you now hear are identikit sounds culled from the same generic toolkits that everyone has access to. These 'sample packs' form a sector of the industry that I suspect have a lot more value to it than the sales revenues from the artists using the samples to feed their generic compositions.
BUT, for all that access to the tools, the equipment, the software, the sound-packs and for all those YouTube videos .... a good idea is a good idea. And they are as hard to come by as they've ever been.
Don't accept anything less, my friends, or we risk creating superstar mythologies around the mediocre output of those who shout the loudest to be heard.