by Tom Arndt
Before some recent changes, someone had to be a professional musician and have access to a corporate studio with thousands of dollars of high-tech equipment to produce music. If a band wanted to make it big, it was essential to be signed with a record label, specifically one with great producers.
Now, anybody can be a music producer. With the technology boom of the last few years, the ability to record and master music has come to the masses, and it’s having lasting effects on the industry. Anybody with a computer can download a digital audio workstation (DAW) and buy a microphone. With a little musical know-how and the wealth of knowledge on Google and YouTube, it’s completely realistic for stars to be born overnight, making their music in a bedroom.
Many get their start on indie music platforms, such as Bandcamp and Soundcloud, before graduating to Spotify and Apple music, often before a single record label or producer even takes notice, and often take off to stardom, all without following the traditional route of working with a record label. This has given rise to all kinds of new music. JuiceWrld was a student at local Homewood-Flossmoor high school, uploading rap tracks to Soundcloud for fun, until his little-known song, “All Girls are the Same,” took off and brought him to stardom. His story is not unique; plenty of other rappers began with home production, such as Post Malone and 21 Savage, who have become household names.
This phenomenon is not limited to rap, extending to many genres. It’s even developed a new style called bedroom pop, a style characterized by its lo-fi beats, fuzzy feel, and creative sounds produced through DIY techniques. Gus Dapperton, known for dreamy 80’s sounds, put some groovy tracks on Spotify, and was picked up to write a song for Netflix hit show 13 Reasons Why, skyrocketing him into stardom. Rex Orange County released a short EP, bcos u will never be free, on Spotify, and was immediately picked up by mentor Tyler the Creator, a rapper who got his start online, not unlike JuiceWrld.
With the advent of the internet and the cost of music production supplies going down, only more great music will be produced, as it no longer required the interest of large record labels with million-dollar studios to make a song.