A fair portion of the grumbling among the “more seasoned” generations of sound professionals can simply be chalked up to our inner curmudgeon.
Every generation thinks the next wave of “kids” is largely comprised of know-nothing, spoiled brats who “have no idea how tough this job used to be, and by the way, their music is a bunch of noisy dreck.”
That said, there are some emerging issues that really do keep me up at night worrying about the future.
For example, what is now defined as “audio equipment” runs a very wide gamut from complete junk all the way up to truly professional gear.
There’s even an inside joke in the industry that anything with the word “pro” in the name certainly isn’t. Why this is a problem is harder to define.
Let me put it this way: when I was a young buck, I knew that a certain well-known 4-track cassette recorder was a decidedly amateurish piece of gear. The real stuff was to be found in big studios and on big stages.
The difference was quite obvious and the thought of getting to work on the big-time systems provided inspiration to learn, study, practice, experiment, and move forward inch by inch.
I knew that I wasn’t big time yet but I definitely wanted to get there, and there was a lot of learning along the way: how to be efficient with your time, gear, money, while taking the patience of friends to the limit.
Fast forward to today. Sure, there’s still a difference between levels of gear, but the lines aren’t nearly as clear.
You can literally buy “audio equipment” at national discount chains, along with car parts, kitchen accessories, greeting cards, toys, garden implements and even a dozen eggs and a gallon of milk. Ditto musical instruments. Meanwhile, Garage Band comes free on iMac.
One can argue that this puts music- and sound-making equipment into the hands of a much wider base group of people, thus making it possible for more and better music to be made.
However, I think it can also be argued that we’ve not seen that kind of result. If anything, there’s more formulaic, pre-packaged “teen pop” drivel than ever before.