May 19, 2018 in Blog

Doing It Yourself in the Digital Age

2018! It’s an exciting time for music.  The industry has changed beyond all recognition over the last 20 years,  as the Internet has changed how we find and listen to music and big record labels have scrambled to react. In many ways, it’s harder for bands to make a great album these days as labels are much more cautious – there is far less money around for artist development and for taking risks with bands who are unsigned or who don’t fit a particular musical niche. That means more bands have to go it alone when it comes to recording…  though we’d argue that is not inherently a bad thing!

 

Although label support and funding has dried up considerably in the Internet age, we have better access to more information than at any time in human history.  Even better, recording technology has advanced to the point now that it’s entirely possible to get good results with relatively modestly-priced gear and with skills learned from experienced professionals sharing their know-how online. So while it’s that much harder to get a recording session in Abbey Road Studio Two, it’s that much easier to get a decent-sounding recording of a great song in a humbler setting – without having to compromise on the band’s vision. Witness the explosion of diverse, vital, tremendously exciting songs taking over 6 Music in the last few years.

 

Ringlefinch is a band built on DIY. Most of us are self-taught on our instruments, and we’ve shot all our videos ourselves (as well as doing everything for many of our recordings, particularly the soundtrack we did for comedy film Making It). For our debut album, we’ve been taking this to extremes – not only recording and mixing the album ourselves, building on the lessons we learned from working with the marvellous Ben Walker on the Mass Trespass EP, but doing so in a studio that we built (gear and all!). It’s maybe not the quickest way to make an album, but we’ve learned a huge amount, it’s a lot of fun, and most importantly it’s sounding great so far!

 

 

Of course, this doesn’t mean that it’s a golden age for the musicians or recording / mixing engineers themselves – although information, skills and tools are easier to access, the money itself hasn’t been democratised in the same way  as the bigger labels try to protect their bottom line by mostly putting out songs that sound like the last big thing, rather than trying to find the next big thing. It’s that much harder, then, for artists and engineers to make ends meet while also making interesting, challenging music. Perhaps this is where blockchain technology (such as Imogen Heap’s Mycelia initiative) can help make the difference, by ensuring the rights – and the money – are more closely tied back to the people who made the music in the first place?

 

 

 

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