Live performance is being remixed

How technological advancements have changed the live music experience

The music industry is changing, from the production to the consumption of music.
via Unsplash

Consider this an obituary for live music. 

The music industry has come a long way in recent history. Technological advances within the last decade have gifted us with the ability to listen to music anytime, anywhere. 

Among the many undeniable benefits of constant and reliable access to new music, there’s another side to consider. There’s an ongoing societal shift from authentic and spontaneous performance to prepackaged, pre-wrapped audio performance.  

Live performance has been in the process of being replaced for a long time, but in a much more discrete way. In grade school, nobody seemed to bat an eyelash when the choir switched from having a real piano player to singing along to the sounds of pre-recorded tapes and later CDs. Professional orchestras are becoming more and more rare.  All your friends are buying tickets to Digital Dreams. 

I don’t mean to look at it through rose-coloured glasses, but there’s something to be said for the spontaneity, the muscle memory and echoing sound of an acoustic guitar chord found in an onstage performance. 

When all the elements that come together to create live music — being present, physical effort, the human voice and authentic sound, are lost, spontaneity also takes a curtain call. 

You lose the genuine human connection, whether it was last Friday night at The Brass, at your very first concert as a kid, or on your bedroom floor as you stumbled your way through the chords to your favourite song for the first time.

As with anything, live performance must evolve or go extinct. But, there will never be a time when the music scene is at a standstill. 

The music industry relies heavily on consumerism to stay alive, and as quality live performance slowly becomes more rare, the demand for remixed, reliable music increases. 

We’ve come to expect a new  standard for live performance, one based on pre-recorded audio projects. Artists from Adele to Drake are criticized for not having perfect voices, for missing a beat, and for making mistakes. There’s a new type of artist emerging through the rise of a new skillset: being  a professional DJ. 

Nothing becomes popular without demand. Musical genres are also constantly evolving, and concert experiences are huge productions that add something new to the listening experience.  

But there is something to be said for looking back, when seeing your favourite artist meant hearing their voice, watching them physically play an instrument. 

Hopefully, like vinyl, we’re just circling back to it. 

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