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The World’s Most Innovative Music Production Practices?

The business magazine Fast Company regularly has a feature on 50 of the World’s Most innovative Companies. These were companies that were doing something new and exciting. Something different in their businesses and succeeding in their innovation.

That made me think about innovations in music production and audio recording.

Innovation Overdrive

Take the last 60 years for instance. The recording industry has had an amazing amount of innovative progress. Something that we take for granted today are effects pedals, especially distortion.

But distortion was an innovative sound back in the fifties.

They accomplished it in much the same way as today, by overloading the gain of their amplifiers. But some dislodged their tubes to create distortion, and even ripped a speaker cone to get that distorted sound.

Today we have all manners of overdrives, distortions, fuzzes and the like. Effects that innovative guitarists started and others improved on.

Creative Recording

The same goes for multi-track recording. Back in the day the Beatles recorded elaborate albums on four tracks, bouncing their recordings again and again to make room for more takes.

Now, with computers and endless-track-DAW software we have no limitations on tracks. The Beatles recorded their songs in a very innovative way. A way that’s been expanded and enhanced upon in today’s computer revolution.

I could go on and on. Reverb in the eighties, synthesizers and MIDI, samplers and hip-hop. The list goes on.

What do you think is the most innovative thing to come out of the recording industry? Let me know in the comments. There’s no stupid answers and all opinions are great.

Innovative Music Production and Mixing

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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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  • I’m not sure if there is any one inovation. You mentioned the Beatles. I think if there was any inovations in the music world it was the groups themselves, starting with the Beatles. Like you mentioned, they took four tracks and made elaborate albums. Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues and all the rest had nothing like we have today as far as technology, yet were able to produce some of the most outstanding music ever.

  • After the DAW, the internet and social media have been the greatest tools for getting music out to masses. It gives millions of artist a chance to be heard. While there is still a ton of crap out there, at least it is the public that is deciding what they like and what they want to hear, and not some record company exec. that is spoon feeding us what they think is good, now and hip! Also it is sites like yours and Joe Gilder’s, and many others that have allowed us to take our songs, idea, and rough demos, and with the use of a computer, DAW and a few mics and other inexpensive tools, and transform them into great pieces of art, at least some of the time. At the end of the day, it’s the song that starts the process, our ears and the tools we have at our disposal, that make it something we can be proud of, and hopefully will be loved by others. Thanks to you and Joe for keeping us focused, and moving forward.

  • Theo

    Convolution processing like Audio Damage’s Nebula is quite innovative, if it’s improved upon it could be extremely powerful – it works by working out the differences between a sound before and after effects have been applied, like convolution reverb, so it can emulate any effect.

  • The ability to do pitch and auto-tuning corrections, advanced reverb and room simulation software make it possible to perfect even a mediocre performance. Add to that deep audio spectral corrections, and there is no reason for a flawless mastering from someone with a decent ear and clear taste. The next likely innovation might be to model or synthesize the vocal characteristics of specific performers (both living and dead) too allow them to ‘perform’ with existing bands (think Tupac and Snoop Dog onstage at Coachella, or duets with Garland and Streisand). The movie business does versions of this now, it’s only a matter of time before we see it in the music industry. Is it a good innovation? Time will tell, but nothing beats a talented artist in a live performance, either.

  • Probably the sampler. I mean the musical instrument, not the synonym for compilation… It started as a kind of synthesizer that used recorded sounds, now out home recording studios / DAWs do the same thing (and a lot more). It transformed the whole music industry.

    I remember when the sampler was introduced in the 1980s. It was almost science fiction. I was fascinated by the work of Jim Thirlwell a.k.a. Foetus who created avantgarde rock albums with almost nothing but a sampler. He and others showed us that you could actually be a highly creative musician even if you used “stolen” sounds.