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Inside Apple’s GarageBand, the app that’s ruling the sound of modern music

Sunday March 17, 2019. 02:56 AM , from Mac Daily News
“Musicians’ applause for Apple’s Garageband — which celebrates its 15th birthday this year, humbly, still living in the media shadow of many of the tech giant’s more glittering products — is similar across genres and skill levels,” Amy X. Wang writes for Rolling Stone. “Artists from Radiohead to Kendrick Lamar have used the app to demo, produce and sometimes even finalize master recordings. ‘It allows you to not be constrained by what you can or can’t play,’ Dan Smith, frontman of British band Bastille, tells Rolling Stone. ‘I can quickly get something out of my head. Or I can write a song from start to finish in a couple of hours.'”
“Producer Oak Felder, who’s worked with artists like Ariana Grande, Usher and Alicia Keys, says Garageband has made collaboration much easier by allowing even the most tech-unsavvy people to explain their ideas with self-cut tracks, rather than with an abstract tangle of words,” Wang writes. “T-Pain, in 2005, made his whole first album Rappa Ternt Sanga with the Garageband app on his laptop. ‘The Hand That Feeds,’ a Nine Inch Nails anthem, came out as a Garageband project file for fans to play around with on their own computers that same year; Radiohead offered up the same idea with ‘Nude’ in 2008. Haim, St. Vincent, Rihanna, Duran Duran, and Usher are among artists who’ve all released music using Garageband’s suite of free sounds or audio loops.”
“What’s been in it for Apple, which has not only declined to make money on the app for 15 years but spent millions meticulously refining it?” Wang writes. “In unveiling the app on stage at Macworld in 2004 with a guitar-brandishing John Mayer at his side, Steve Jobs gave only one raison d’être: He wanted Garageband to ‘democratize music-making’ … As much as it encourages audio democracy, the app — which has been preinstalled on more a billion Macs, iPhones and iPads to date, with mobile and tablet versions introduced in 2011 — has also created audio homogeneity. Garageband’s fingerprints are all over the sound of modern music. Which raises a more precarious question: Just how tight is Silicon Valley’s vise on on the music industry — its makers as well as its listeners?”
Much more about GarageBand, Logic, Steve Jobs, and more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: This is a great behind-the-scenes article with interesting info throughout, including: “In the first media visit Apple has ever allowed to its under-the-radar Music Apps studio, the team of engineers showed Rolling Stone how the creation process for Garageband’s two types of sounds — synthetic and ‘real’ — can span weeks or sometimes months per instrument, with new hurdles at every turn.”
We don’t think there’s any question that GarageBand has colored the sound of a significant portion of modern music. Whether that’s good or bad is up to the listener to decide, but we will say that if you’re a SiriusXM subscriber who listens to “70s on 7” or an Apple Music member playing a 70s playlist for an hour or so, you’ll likely recognize the quality of the artists that made the “Top 40” music back then was higher than the “Top 40” of today. Ditto for the diversity of songs. Technology has made it possible for those who might not be as accomplished a singer and/or musician the chart a hit song. Artists had to really be a talented live singer and/or live musician in order to land a recording contract back in the 1970s and before. Of course, there are some very talented artists today who would’ve thrived in any decade with or without technology like GarageBand or Logic.
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