About betting on the future, remember those days when people like you and me used to actually BUY music? Waiting for the local Music store to bring in that cassette of the Artists you’ve heard about from a friend or a new album of an artist that you have been waiting to listen to? Waiting in a line outside a store hoping to bag that copy of the cassette before it gets sold out?
Most readers who’ve been born in their 90s or earlier will relate to this story in some sense, others might think that I’m old. You’re not wrong.
The point I’m trying to make here is that, every industry goes through a systemic change over a period of time as technology evolves, the Audio Industry is one of those that had a major disruption as technology evolved from Analog to Digital and finally to the Age of Streaming.
A lot of big recording studios that used to depend on giant “Music Labels” suddenly went down as the technology used to record and recreate music became easily accessible to the masses. Now instead of going to a huge recording floor to record an artist, they could very easily do this from a space that had a far less investment than a huge recording studio.
These studios over time could not afford to reduce rates because of their massive overheads and artists and labels saw that they could get decent sounding recordings even from these smaller recording spaces without investing in a Massive state of the art recording console that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
This was the massive disruption that we saw in the early 2000s pretty much all over the world, and we might be on the cusp of one more such disruption.
This disruption caused a huge uproar in the job market for Audio Engineers as well, people were now looking for “Pro Tools” as opposed to someone who knew how to handle a tape machine and splice and edit a tape.
The skill sets that are required to be an Audio engineer also change as technology changes and as engineers its important for us to be aware of the change in technology and also keep changing our skill sets as time goes on.
It’s important to keep yourself up to date with the new changes in technology and foresee their impact on how we currently do things. I’m sure a lot of people would have scoffed at the idea of tapes being replaced by technology that could stream music to a mobile device that you could carry around with you anywhere you went. Literally have access to any song from any artist you wanted to play at the touch of a screen.
If you ask me, I would have probably never expected it. We as humans tend to give less importance to these possibilities, since they seem achievable to us given the current state of our technology. Sometimes it’s important to understand our own biases towards our way of doing things and keeping yourself open to understanding and foreseeing change. Well there are things that will probably not change, like say Music Videos, but the way you consume them might.
You would be surprised to know that Music Videos was not always a thing, it started after MTV melded music and video together for the first time in the 80s. Before this, music was almost always consumed just by itself. Can you imagine not having Music Videos today?
Another interesting story of the evolution of music lies in the way music was first sold. Did you know that composers in the 18th century sold “Sheet music” ? YES, back then music was sold as an actual sheet of paper that you could read and inorder to consume that you would have to read the music and play it back to be able to actually listen to it. Every rich household used to have one member who could read music and play it. Infact as technology advanced to phonographs a lot of musicians were completely against this, their argument was that this would reduce the overall skill set that the general population would gain since they would no longer need to learn the piano to be able to listen to music. I wouldn’t say they were entirely wrong.
Betting on the Future
Well betting on the future is something we’ve probably seen stock traders do, buy a stock at a certain price expecting it to be valued at another price in the future. It’s something that everyone should give some thought to when it comes to their profession or industry. Early adopters of new technology find themselves being market leaders/dominators once the technology comes into vogue. Take for example the advent of VR, a lot of audio engineers who started experimenting with 360 degree audio found themselves at a great position and attracted a lot of employers and clients. Same goes to people who foresaw the coming of streaming platforms and normalization, Mastering engineers who could consistently deliver the best sounding Masters that did not sound like compressed piece of “Sh*&t “ found a lot more clients being driven to them or even use this newly learnt knowledge to attract new customers.
There are other new forms of technology being constantly added to the field of Acoustics, Audio Electronics and even Plugins.
Betting on the future can not just make sure that you stay relevant, but it will make sure that you thrive doing what you do.