Record

I’ve been messing around with Record, Propellerhead’s latest software foray into the world of DAW’s. I could comment on the sheer visual complexity of the software, but I think that conversation has already occurred with Reason.

With Propellerhead, it’s a matter of philosophy.

PROPELLEROSOPHY
For instance, let’s consider a single track of music. It contains the recorded audio, plus whatever effects you want to add. In a real-world studio (especially of the pre-digital era) a hardware effect like reverb was a box. A big, expensive box. Only an idiot would buy a separate box for each track in the mix – lunacy! Instead, engineers would be resourceful and bus everything through that effect and back. This is why mixers have sends and returns.

But wait – what about now? With Logic, I’ll often say to myself “I should set up the bus for compressing the drums” but I don’t. I just copy the channel strip setting and go. One plugin for each track. On a high-powered computer, who cares right? It makes more visual sense to forget the baggage and see EXACTLY what is affecting a given track (feel free to disagree but I’m sure they invented copy channel strip settings for this specific reason).

Record, Reason, and if you can remember, ReBirth have always thought about software as a bitmapped hardware screen. The mantra must be “make it look real” or something to that effect. Which is fine – they do a great job of mocking up fake real-looking devices. I’ve always felt their plugin design to be matchless.

But Record isn’t a plugin, and I don’t wager most of the users will be running it as a plugs (as many Reason users I know do). Record is supposed to reinvent recording, and humanize the process, which brings me to my evaluation of Beta 6.

THIS IS THE DEMO SONG:

What you see is three separate windows, glued together (from top)
The mixer, which scrolls up and down to reveal many, many controls
The “rack”, which seems to add to Reason’s hardware-based instrument and plugin metaphor
The arrange view, which is pretty much like Reason’s with some nifty time stretching methods for the audio tracks

Almost every DAW is visually complex, but here’s an example of why I feel Propellerhead could streamline this a bit.

In the above shot, the “Git Intro” track is showing three times.


Not only does each have a mute/solo (this is common), but each is geared toward a different use. For instance, I can’t arm the recording from the mixer, nor can I pan from the track view (without adding an automation lane) This means to get the most bang from each window I have to break it apart into three separate screens. Four if you add Reason in.

I like the idea of Record, but it’s pulling in two opposing directions, and I think it will hurt the marketing campaign a bit.

IF YOU WANT RECORD YOU EITHER:
Are a musician first and gearhead second – you want to cut the “BS” and record with a program written for the musician and not the engineer.
A Reason buff that loves to tinker with lots of engineer-specific tools and settings. You probably love to hit that tab key and mess with the plugs too.

See the problem? This is going to be in the same market as a very highly segmented family such as Logic/GarageBand or lightly segmented but popular mainstays as Pro Tools.

I could conceivably see the combination of Reason and Record competing with Ableton Suite but I can’t see people using them for the same tasks. (By the way, both Propellerhead and Ableton are always going to have trouble selling their wares as *recording* software – Ableton has found a niche with DJ’s – it will be interesting to see if a similar niche emerges for Record)

That leaves…Reason people who use ReWire to send Reason stuff into another program. These people prefer Reason instruments, and Reason effects. Guess what? Propellerhead was nice enough to add those audio tracks you’ve been wanting so you don’t have to deal with Pro Tools!

In closing, everyone should check Record out, if nothing else to convince yourself to buy a larger monitor. If you love Reason, you’ll love Record. If you feel indifferent to Reason, this will either cement your hatred for it or convince you to give it a second thought.

Disbanded

Many are aware of the RIAA’s landmark $1.9M judgement against Jammie Thomas this past week, and many are rightfully outraged at the fact this amount of statutory damage was claimed for 24 songs in her upload folder.

I’d say the main issue at hand isn’t the RIAA’s methods or the copyright system on the whole, but the system of statutory damages. These types of damage award money for theoretical, rather than actual losses.

Here’s a couple of examples…
Actual loss: you stole a sandwich from me. I’m hungry now because I don’t have it anymore.
Statutory loss: I sell sandwiches. I see you giving a sandwich away down the block. I assume that person normally would have paid me for a sandwich but you stepped in and messed up my business model. Jerk.

Notice that the latter assumes that person would have paid for the product. Recent data asserts that lost sales only make up a small percentage of those who bootleg music. Were it not available, they would just do without it. But I digress.

Let’s examine what might actually come of this ridiculous judgement:

1) The RIAA tries to collect, meets a supreme court challenge, and gets smacked down for going against precedents for this abuse of the statutory damage system

2) The RIAA decides to “be nice” and only fine Thomas for the ~8K they normally extort. Maybe cover some court costs even to smooth out the bad press.

See the problem? No matter what happens in this case; it’s not going to provide any kind of closure to the music sharing debate. The larger the judgement, the bigger the PR nightmare for the recording industry. I’m guessing they’ll half heartedly attempt option #2 but screw it up somehow, if you want to put some money on it.

Today at a major Music Education panel, the idea was brought up that the RIAA needs to disband. I’ve always known music educators to be particularly careful with copyright issues, but it seems no one is left to defend the RIAA but themselves.

SoundTree

It’s been too long, my friends.

I’ve been busy finishing my thesis and working a summer job for SoundTree, a subsidiary of Korg.  The last two weeks I installed a music tech lab in Atlanta, GA.

Notice the subtly new layout.  Contact me if there are any issues with it.  Now let’s get back to work.