History Music Production Part 5a – Rise of the DIY Practitioner

This blog is a continuation of a series. See here (Page 2015a) for the previous blog.
Perhaps motivated by the power imbalance and limited access to studios in the 1970’s and 1980’s, aligned with the broader social and cultural developments of DIY culture from the 1970s, the ever increasing available range of technology enabled the process of music creation and production to exponentially develop, with musicians in the new era of project and mobile studios, emerging as a new generation of prosumers – both producers and consumers (Theberge 1997, P3; Hracs, 2012).
AE Project Studio
(MIDAS 2014)
Technological developments have provided multiple outcomes, such as choices of musical style and music production processes. In an article on best practice within the music industry, Wallis (2001, 13) observed that access to user-friendly technology has “resulted in many creative artistic talents achieving a high degree of IT literacy, leading to the emergence of the combined studio producer/ writer role. Max Martin from Sweden…is such an example”. Today, continuing technological developments have further opened the field and discipline to an even broader market. Music production technology is now accessible to anyone who has a degree of interest in the creation and production of music, irrespective of their background {social status or professional role}, their musical or professional audio training and/or experience, or the genre of music they may be interested in attempting to produce, making for a truly diverse and eclectic music production society (Burgess 1997, 34; Rogers 2013).
The acknowledged diversity of backgrounds of the DIY music production practitioner expanded the previous music producer list several decades earlier of artist/musician, audio engineer, songwriter, entrepreneur and multipath, to now include: DJ, self-taught/school-trained and discoverer (Burgess 2013, 29). In addition, as Rogers in his 2010 study on local musicians in the Brisbane scene found, there are now varying levels of professionalism found amongst the participants: professional, semi-professional, emerging and several non-commercial aspirational levels – including amateur or hobbyist practices (Rogers 2013, 168). By far, the largest group is the amateur category. I adopt the term amateur “not as a reflection on a hobbyists’ skills, which are often quite advanced, but rather, to emphasise that most of DIY culture is not motivated by commercial purposes” (Kuznetson and Paulos 2010, 295) . The “status and position of the amateur have been redeemed and a new, less aristocratic, breed of amateur has emerged .. (who) .. are technologically literate, seriously engaged, and committed practitioners” (Prior 2010, 401).

The emergence of DIY, and the challenges of discipline-accepted standards

With DIY perspectives on cultural production being particularly influential in music production, in many ways redefining the field today (Kealy 1982; Hemphill and Leskowitz 2012; Frith 1992; Watson and Shove 2008; Watson 2014; Kuznetsov and Paulos 2010; Ritzer and Jurgenson 2010; Purdue et al. 1997), traditional standards of effective practice, which have played a central role in the music production industry, are now being challenged. Music and audio industry’s standards of commercial sales and technical criteria (Burgess 1997, 162; Grammy Awards 2015; Gibson 2006, 42; Recording Producers and Engineers Wing 2008) appear to be less valued by contemporary DIY music production practitioners. Breaking with previously accepted industry practices (Hracs,2012), the notion of ‘effective practice’ appears to be actively disregarded due to the prioritizing of other motivations such as creativity, emotional connection, networking, and free-spiritedness. That is, creative practice, affective practice and social practice, with a preparedness to reject accepted effective practice (eg: technical or genre standards) as the contemporary DIY music production practitioner sees fit (Montana and Charnov 2000,12; Robbins et al 2009, 313; Griffin 1996; Rogers 2013, 168; McWilliam 2008, 38; Davie 2012, 41).

The emerging discipline of contemporary DIY music production practice, and their practitioners

In summary, prior to my own research study and planned interviews, the contemporary DIY music production practitioners can be said to be: proactive, resourceful, tenacious and rebellious practitioners with eclectic backgrounds, musical tastes and skill levels. They most certainly possess a just do it spirit as the Nike slogan has encouraged since 1971. They are likely motivated by creative, affective or social practice, rather than effective practice, making aesthetic choices over technical standards, and working in what could be once considered, ineffective or inefficient workflows. They are more likely to be passionate hobbyists, who want to create, express and be heard, using project or portable technology as either a studio or an instrument, probably in a way that was not originally intended by the manufacturer, and yet creating unique sonic qualities or textures, influencing new genres to emerge (Wallis 2001,13; Burgess 2013, 29; Huber and Runstein 2013,76; Izhaki 2013, xiiii; Gilreath 2010; Watson 2014; Burke 2011; Doyle 2008; Wallis 2001,11; Kuznetsov and Paulos 2010, 296; Spencer 2005, 226-273; Moran 2011, 1; Rogers 2013, 168; Kuznetsov and Paulos 2010, 295; Watson 2013, 334; Prior 2010, 401; Watson 2013, 331; Braithwaite alluded in Tingen 2014; Theberge 2012, 6; Hracs et al 2013, 1144).
onion-layers
This blog will continue next month History of Music Production Part 5b – Rise of the DIY Practitioner  (Page 2015b).
 References
Burke, David. 2011. “Heart of Darkness : Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska”. London: Cherry Red Books.
Burgess, Richard James. 2013. The art of music production: the theory and practice. New York: Oxford University Press.
Burgess, Richard James. 1997. The art of record production. London: Omnibus Press.
Davie, Mark. 2012. “The diy revolution.” Audio Technology (91): 98.
DIY image courtesy of: DIY Accessed 24th July, 2015
Frith, Simon. 1992. “The industrialization of popular music.” Popular Music and Communication 2: 49-74.
Gilreath, Paul. 2010. The guide to midi orchestration. 4th ed. Oxford: Focal.
Gibson, Bill. 2006. The s.m.a.r.t. guide to becoming a successful producer/engineer Boston: Thompson Course Technology.
Grammy Awards. 2015. “The 2015 Grammy Awards.” Accessed May 20, 2015. https://www.grammy.com/nominees.
Griffin, RW. 1996. Management. 5th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Hemphill, David and Shari Leskowitz. 2012. “DIY activists: communities of practice, cultural dialogism, and radical knowledge sharing.” Adult Education Quarterly 63 (1): 57-77. doi: 10.11.77/0741113612442803.
Hracs, Brian J. 2012. “A creative industry in transition: the rise of digitally driven independent music production.” Growth and Change 43 (3): 442-461.
Hracs, Brian J, Doreen Jakob and Atle Hauge. 2013. “Standing out in the crowd: the rise of exclusivity-based strategies to compete in the contemporary marketplace for music and fashion.” Environment and Planning A 45 (5): 1144-1161.
Huber, David Miles and Robert E Runstein. 2013. Modern recording techniques. 8th ed. Burlington: Focal Press.
Huber, David Miles and Robert E Runstein. 2010. Modern recording techniques. 7th ed. Boston: Focal Press.
Izhaki, Roey. 2013. Mixing audio: concepts, practices and tools. 3rd ed. Oxford: Focal.
Kealy, Edward R. 1982. “Conventions and the production of the popular music aesthetic.” The Journal of Popular Culture 16 (2): 100-115.
Kuznetsov, Stacey and Eric Paulos. 2010. “Rise of the Expert Amateur: DIY Projects, Communities, and Cultures.” In Proceedings of the 6th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: Extending Boundaries, Reykjavik, Iceland, October 16-20, 2010, edited, 295-304. http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1868914&picked=prox: ACM.
Leyshon, Andrew. 2009. “The Software slump?: digital music, the democratisation of technology, and the decline of the recording studio sector within the musical economy.” Environment and Planning 41 (6): 1309.
McWilliam, Erica. 2008. The creative workforce: how to launch young people into high-flying futures. Sydney: UNSW press.
MIDAS 2014 console image courtesy of AE Project Studio. Accessed 29th June, 2014
Moran, Ian P. 2011. “Punk: the do-it-yourself subculture.” Social Sciences Journal 10 (1): 13. http://www.behringer.com/EN/Our-Story/index.aspx
Montana, Patrick J and Bruce H Charnov. 2000. Management. 3rd ed. Vol. 333, Business Review Books. New York: Barron’s Educational Series.
Onion image courtesy of: Onion Layers Accessed 15th December, 2014
Page, David L. 2015b. History of Music Production Part 5b  Accessed 5th August, 2015
Page, David L. 2015a. History of Music Production Part 4  Accessed 21st May, 2015
Prior, Nick. 2010. “The rise of the new amateurs: Popular music, digital technology and the fate of cultural production.” Handbook of cultural sociology. London: Routledge: 398-407.
Purdue, Derrick, Jörg Dürrschmidt, Peter Jowers and Richard O’Doherty. 1997. “DIY culture and extended milieux: LETS, veggie boxes and festivals.” The Sociological Review 45 (4).
Recording Producers and Engineers Wing, The. 2008. “Digital Audio Workstation Guidelines for Music Production.” Accessed May 27, 2015. https://www.grammy.org/files/pages/DAWGuidelineLong.
Ritzer, George and Nathan Jurgenson. 2010. “Production, consumption, prosumption: the nature of capitalism in the age of the digital ‘prosumer’.” Journal of Consumer Culture 10 (1).
Robbins, Stephen, Rolf Bergman, ID Stagg and Mary Coulter. 2009. Management 5. Sydney: Pearson Education Australia.
Rogers, I. 2013. “The hobbyist majority and the mainstream fringe: the pathways of independent music-making in Brisbane, Australia.” In Redefining mainstream popular music, edited by Sarah Baker, Andy Bennett and Jodie Taylor, 162-173. New York: Routledge.
Spencer, Amy. 2005. DIY: The rise of lo-fi culture: Marion Boyars London.TEAC. 2015. “TEAC TASCAM history.” Accessed June 7,2015. www.tascam.com.
Théberge, Paul. 1997. Any sound you can make: making music/consuming technology. Hanover: University Press of New England.
Tingen, Paul. 2014. “Inside track: Happy – secrets of the mix engineers: Leslie Braithwaite.” Accessed 1st May, 2015. http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may14/articles/inside-track- 0514.htm.
Wallis, R Dr. 2001. “Best practice cases in the music industry and their relevance for government policies in developing countries.” Paper presented at the United Conference on Trade and Development, Brussels, Belgium, May 14-20, 2001.
Watson, Allan. 2014. Cultural Production in and Beyond the Recording Studio. New York, NY: Routledge.
Watson, Allan. 2013. “‘Running a studio’s a silly business’: work and employment in the contemporary recording studio sector.” Area 45 (3): 330-336.
Watson, Matthew and Elizabeth Shove. 2008. “Product, Competence, Project and Practice DIY and the dynamics of craft consumption.” Journal of Consumer Culture 8 (1): 69,74.
– ©David L Page 24/07/2015
– updated ©David L Page 05/08/2015
Copyright: No aspect of the content of this blog or blog site is to be reprinted or used within any practice without strict permission directly from David L Page.

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