I feel that we are all at a very interesting moment in musical history and in our world history as well. At no other time have so many different styles, periods, and nationalities of music been so easily available, thousands at a time and in the palm of one’s hand. The computer and the internet have completely altered the way music is bought and sold, and perhaps most significantly, created. At the same time, we are in an age where it appears that all genres of music may have run out of new things to do. So what’s a creative musician to do? One answer is to use what you have that is actually new. Many Classical composers did just that with electronic instruments and tape loops in the second half of the 20th century. Dance music and Hip-Hop have been intimately linked from the start with new technologies like samplers and drum machines. There wouldn’t have been any rock & roll either without new technologies like electric guitars, multi-track recorders and synthesizers. It seems that the ‘computer as instrument’ is our new technology. But it is more than a new instrument; it is a digital music universe. Not only is it an instrument with infinite possibilities, it also fuels the whole change in the way we buy and listen to music.
Part of what makes this moment in history so interesting is the shift digital distribution and streaming create in public views of music as commodity. We are close to looking at recorded music as a vast digital library, a public service, easily available to all and separate from, and
replacing, the recording industry.
The whole concept of ‘pop’ music, meaning popular enough to buy and sell, may actually fall by the wayside. That word, which to many is derogative, may eventually be replaced by, say, Afro-European electric American-based folk music. Who knows what it will be called, but it will happen with the computer as its supreme creative partner. With so many music creation platforms, and even the use of artificial intelligence, virtual instruments and plug-ins, there has never been a more exciting time for the recording arts! The combination of 20th century ‘pop’ idioms and the computer as instrument may eventually become the new classical and folk music of the 21st century. In the same way the invention of an affordable home piano made musical possibilities accessible to the masses in the 19th century, and the radio revolutionized musical availability in the 20th century, the computer has revolutionized musical creation and distribution in the 21st century.
RAD, as an official 501(c)(3) not-for-profit record production company, can provide leadership in this revolution and empower folks through the Recording arts to create a new aesthetic based on this history of technological innovation and syntheses of different genres that is distinctly American and shine a light on marginalized artists from all backgrounds, orientations and identities. This moment in history is very exciting and the future even more so! We invite you to join us on this journey.