Editor’s note: This guest post is written by Edward James Bass, editor of Audio Silver Lining – an online resource and blog covering cloud based and collaborative music production.
The last few years have seen the emergence of online music production services and tools such as Indaba, Audiotool and Soundation that offer artists and producers the chance to record, edit and mix tracks from within their web browsers rather than using installed applications.
Aside from being incredibly impressive and a lot of fun I feel this new technology offers some considerable benefits for music makers of all levels. Here’s a few of the more prominent ones…
As is the case with all cloud based applications collaboration is a key feature here. Since some existing online music production services have built strong communities around their services, the process of finding and communicating with musicians and producers to work with has become a fairly positive experience.
Admittedly questions have been raised about potential IP issues if a track ever gets commercial success but there is a strong argument for the fact that working via these services allows a means for artists to better track who contributed what and constantly monitor and review the terms of their working agreements.
Having a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) that is no longer physically tied to a specific machine is a potential winner for bands and artists on the move.
Not merely does it offer the chance to easily record and edit demo tracks from just about any location with connectivity but also a low value online backup of material. Finally that lost laptop no longer means a great lost album.
Try before you buy
The free signup and simplified features of online DAW’s and sequencers like Indaba, Audiotool and Soundation gives those who are new to music production the opportunity to try out recording, mixing and synthesis without having to shell out in advance.
For the Myspace generation already used to incorporating technology into their creative process this will likely prove to be less of hurdle than to older producers who are tied to their expensive desktop tools.
Whilst its relatively easy to mix down a track and upload it to Soundcloud or Myspace it is still time consuming and stifles the ability to “share the moment” with your friends and fans. Embedded widgets for social media and websites allow instant streaming of new tracks to the masses. So far two services – Audiotool and Indaba offer this feature and some nice looking widgets too
Shaking up the market
The existing non-cloud DAWs have been somewhat feature-stale for some time now, not to mention slow with regards to addressing the opportunities of social media.
This advancement offers them the chance to re-invigorate their products by creating online or hybrid versions that offer all of the above features combined with the reassurance of an established brand.
Ableton has already taken a step forward with regards to collaboration by offering a function that allows its users to share tracks and control who accesses them via an online interface – its fairly likely other vendors will follow suit soon.
Will the Cloud ever replace music production software completely?
Currently some professional and home studio producers have a certain reticence to this bold new area of music tech and see cloud based apps as pointless, simplified versions of their own tools. Indeed it will be sometime before online DAWs and sequencers can fully match the capability of systems such as Pro Tools, Cubase or Reason but it is certainly not the impossible vision some have supposed – just a case of developing on a different platform from the standard one.
As ever, improving technology is the driver here – better connectivity both via standard broadband and mobile connections as well as the proliferation of devices that use cloud based operating systems and apps will provide an environment where online music production is likely to thrive due to better stability and access.
Ultimately though, neither the naysayers and doubters or those enthused like myself can fully predict the route that music recording technology will take in the future. What has surprised me recently however is that some seem to think it will remain the same at it is now and surely that’s the least likely situation of all.