Platforms, Tech and the re-invention of audio

September is proving to be a month full of ideas and new work that has inexplicably found me. While the majority of the month seems to have been taken over by the herculean task of creating more music for a number of games, I have found myself increasingly trying to take out time to study more languages that could teach me more about software development from different  perspectives. Case in point, this webpage I worked on that lets you listen to some interesting sounds and look at visuals that seem very strobe-lighted to say the least. I believe even something as simple as a few oscillators can go really far in terms of sound design and help in designing some interesting sounds. I equate the sound you hear on that page, with something like a spaceship.

I think working with generative art, in particular presents its own set of challenges - the least of which is trying to figure out and make sense of how it can be used in real-world applications. After a while, the novelty of something and the 'ease-of-use' that makes frameworks like Maximillian so popular, tends to fade and eventually people end up going back to things like C++ to better solve their problems. But I believe that creative thinking is generally not hampered by a framework like Maximillian, that if anything - pushes the person using it to experiment with sound and visuals. I think that's an important part of creating any art, and even more so, something that has to be kept in mind when creating tools for creators and artists alike. The bottom-line is - if it's not fun enough to experiment with, people tend to get quickly bored with the same tools and decide to find another avenue to better suit their creativity. This is precisely the reason that creating tools has found even more importance in this era than, perhaps even creating the art itself.

If there is anything millennial artists and generally every artist in this era continues to struggle with, it's with medium rather than content. Netflix is increasingly taking over the television market picking up TV shows that were otherwise struggling trying to find an audience with traditional television, Shazam seems to be making huge losses to the tune of millions of dollars and then, of course is the classic question of Twitter vs. Facebook Live. Would you rather live-tweet an event or live-stream it? Does it really matter?

 
 

More recently, I went to an interesting conference that happened right here in the back-pocket of Delhi, in Gurgaon. It was one of the first conferences on Virtual Reality in Delhi / NCR that went by the name of vamrr, and there were quite a few fascinating points that I seemed to have picked on. Having lived in Los Angeles for a few months, I had more than enough time to mingle with the VR and game development community there. Being back here and attending a conference on VR with quite a lot of chit-chat in-between artists, designers, entrepreneurs brought me to the important realization that while the ideas and the initiative to start many ventures that can tap into the yet-untapped market of VR is there, it still feels like VR in Delhi is at a very nascent stage where people are still trying to figure out what to do with it. As with most new tech, it seems that the focus is almost exclusively on generating revenue as opposed to creating meaningful art and immersive experiences. While there is no shortage of creative visual artists like Charuvi Agrawal constantly trying to innovate creating things as varying as kinetic sculptures to augmented reality mobile apps, clearly creative people need more platforms and many new ways to express themselves to create more opportunities for themselves. I think that is something that needs to be present in any creative ecosystem in the future.

The point I want to derive out of all of this is - there are a large number of platforms in the current day and age that give the opportunity for the musician to share their music with the world. It is perhaps, not going to be the only factor that decides which platform stays and which disappears, but instead. What I believe is that the larger number of different services and opportunities one single central hub will be able to provide an artist or a collective of artists, is perhaps the platform that is going to be able to stay as disruptions are going to follow and completely change how things are being approached in the music industry. Blockchain technology has been on the rise for a long time, and it will be only a matter of a few years before it changes things not just for the music industry, but every single field like hospitality, real estate and engineering. Large-scale disruptions tend to cause ripples and in that particular case, platforms that are too dependent on a single technology are inevitably going to have to either re-invent themselves or crumble, the same way that artists struggle today. This is all indeed exciting, but dangerous at the same time.

All being said and done, while I believe that streaming is helping artists get more of an audience than what was traditionally possible as far as reach goes, I also believe that there is some probability that in the next ten years, streaming could go extinct unless there is a drastic overhaul of the current system of how royalties are paid out and the entire revenue of the music industry still seems pretty biased towards an artist with a 100,000 fans as opposed to somebody with a few hundred even though in some cases, the difference lies everywhere but the music. I feel that eliminating that bias is important and any platforms that pushes things in that direction could do pretty well for itself.

Platforms like Patreon, Pledge Music and Tradiio come to mind as interesting 'hubs of activity', particularly because they offer the artist the opportunity to stay busy with their creative endeavors and heavily push towards letting people pay not for a singular album or single or product, but as fans that engage more up-front and regularly as opposed to the traditional methods of generating revenue via CD sales. An artist gets more independence in terms of what they want to do and how they can do it, at the same time also being given the opportunity to create value for their work. I believe the artist of the future is not going to make only records, or only remixes. They're going to dabble and experiment with multiple mediums and different approaches to music distribution. A platform that allows that is eventually going to win. And understanding more about how that would happen is essential to making it happen.