Last year, Apple released an update of their Garageband recording software that included optional integrated music lessons, with video of people like Sting and Sara Bareilles showing you how to play the piano or bass parts to their songs, while synchronized tracks played alongside.
At the time, I thought, okay, this is pretty cool, but what if you approached the same idea from a production standpoint? With so many people learning about music engineering and production on their own, in their bedrooms, a final Garageband or Logic or ProTools file, with all the audio, plugins and automation, would be a fantastic learning template.
Furthermore, with the price of actual music effectively falling to zero, maybe a final production file would be useful as something a musician could actually sell – if you were a fan of a particular band and you also made music, wouldn’t you pay $5 for a multitrack session that you could dive into and see how they did it? I would.
In fact, I started work on one of these files. However, as in so many other endeavors, it seems that Steve Jobs was ahead of me: Apple’s flagship audio recording application Logic Studio 9 comes with three “demo” songs – files which represent the final production versions of tracks by the Killers, Santigold, and Lily Allen. Users can dive in and find out exactly how certain sounds were made, how the overall mix was put together – and of course, produce endless remix variations of their own.
We’re definitely going to see a lot more of this kind of thing now that the technology to create and distribute listener-adjustable music has arrived (as in many other areas, the tech here has definitely lagged behind the vision: I remember reading a Ben Fong Torres column on the future of the music industry in the SF Chronicle in the late ’80s where he predicted that multitrack versions of classic albums like “Sgt. Pepper’s” would soon be made available). The surge in music remix iPhone apps over the last few weeks is another good example. The people formerly known as “the audience” (h/t Dan Gillmor) really want to be part of the creative process, and they’re weighing in with their wallets.