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IoT in the music industry

  • Ritesh Pathak
  • Oct 30, 2020
  • Updated on: May 06, 2021
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We all love the experience of listening to music. Our music experience has been enhanced with the help of technology. IoT is one such technology that is helping the music industry to make the user experience even more prolific.


IoT is a modern technology that has grabbed the attention of geeks along with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. We are living in an era where technology dominates. It is fascinating how humans have changed the traditional methods of doing things by taking the advantage of advancements in technology.


IoT in the music industry is an interesting concept. So, in this blog, we will try to uncover the role of IoT in the music industry. We will understand how musicians are taking the help of one of the top modern technologies. Also, we will discuss some basics of music production to better understand the scope of technology in this particular industry. 



What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?


The Internet of Things is a well-known concept to the techies by now. For those who know a little about this technology, IoT is a technology that deals with the formation of a network of interconnected devices ranging from computers to home appliances, and vehicles. IoT facilitates us with the efficient operation of these devices with minimal intervention. 


An IoT system consists of sensors/devices which “talk” to the cloud through some kind of connectivity. The data is sent to the cloud and then is processed by the software. The software then passes the command to the device to perform an action such as sending an alert or automatically adjusting the sensors/devices without the need for the user. For example, the geysers can be turned right before you take a shower. 


This is basically how IoT works. There are many such uses of IoT in different areas like the manufacturing industry, disaster management, travel industry, eCommerce, and others. The music industry is an area that requires a lot of electronic devices. So, IoT can come in handy to operate those devices. 



Basics of music production


Music production involves some basic steps. However, as everything has evolved over the years, music production has also changed. The only rule that has become prominent is that there are no rules. Record whenever, whatever, and wherever you want and use that as a sample. Although there is a huge scope for experiments with your composition, you would not like to present anything before your listeners. So, to come up with a good sounding track, there are six basic steps, to begin with, let’s look at them in brief.


1. Songwriting 


It is quite obvious that the production of a song starts with noting down the lyrics or the tunes. Songwriting is all about making the lyrics perfectly work with the music. For a singer, good lyrics set up the platform. The melody (what the singer sings) will fit with the harmony (what the guitars, bass, and synths mostly play) in a way that’s pleasing to the ear, using repetition to help the listener get used to the chord progression before transitioning to the next section and a different set of chord progressions. The words in the lyrics provoke emotions both in the singer and the listener. 


2. Arranging


Of all the stages of music production, arranging is perhaps the most important stage but unfortunately, it is least understood and most neglected. In simpler terms, the arrangement of a song refers to the selection of instruments, how they are arranged, and also the arrangement of different sections of the song in the larger timeline. When a song has a good beat and melody but gets too repetitive after a while, this is usually a problem of arrangement. It’s the arrangement that makes a song interesting. 


3. Tracking 


This is the stage that brings the gears into the picture. Tracking involves recording the performance of different instruments. Usually, one track is recorded at a time while listening to other recorded tracks. This is called multitracking. Tracking must be distinguished from songwriting because the latter is a different kind of focus than performing.


There is always scope for experiments while writing a song whereas, during the performance, the concentration must be high. The difference can also be understood with the fact that songwriting is done before tracking which means while tracking the performer has to stick to what has been written.


4. Editing 


The possibilities of digital editing have made capturing great performances a lot easier than ever. Editing the raw track involves rectifying the mistakes that occurred while tracking. Editing is considered a separate stage for a couple of reasons. The first is that stopping every time to correct a mistake is definitely not handy. The second reason is about avoiding too much reliance on editing to get a good track. Too much editing takes away all the feelings from the track and can make it ‘chopped up’. 


5. Mixing


For many of the composers, mixing is real fun. As it is mentioned above, tracks are recorded separately. Mixing is the process of combining all the instruments you’ve recorded into a stereo 2-track mix. A good mix lets you hear all the instruments with clarity and detail. It adds depth and motion whilst adding intensity to the music.


The image shows the sound mixing setup

Sound Mixing setup 

6. Mastering 


When recording a collection, specialists some of the time utilize different studios, producers, and engineers for various tunes. The outcome is that every tune will have its own sound, sonically. Acing is the way toward making every one of those songs sound rational and part of a similar collection.


A decent acing engineer has immaculate ears and gear and will address any minor insufficiencies in the blend that the blending specialist may have missed because of the sound of his/her room. He'll additionally raise the degree of the apparent multitude of tracks so they're "hot" (boisterous) and even in volume. By getting every melody through similar acting, rigging, and acclimating to a similar level, it makes them sound more like they are originating from a similar collection.


So, these were the six stages of music production. Now, since we are familiar with the production we can understand the role of IoT in the whole process. 


“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” 

Billy Joel



Role of IoT in music production


With every passing day, IoT and other technologies are finding their use in different sectors. IoT has found its use in the music industry. For example, Google had launched The Universal Orchestra in 2012 and 2013. This was an interactive exhibition at the London Science Museum that allowed physical musical instruments to be played by anyone anywhere via the Google Chrome web browser.


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A similar example came from MIT when it launched Patchwerk- a massive modular synthesizer that could be operated online. So, having looked at the examples, we will now understand the application of IoT in music composition, production, and performance. 



Remote Performance


A Remote music performance, also known as networked music performance, is a process of real-time interaction over a computer network. This enables musicians from different locations, or we can say remote locations, to perform as if they were performing in the same room. Most activities and research in this area focus mainly on audio streaming rather than instrument performance data. If the latter is made possible it would make things interesting and useful as it can be used as a part of live stage performances.


Imagine how fascinating it can become if a solo musician who needs a backing band can use IoT sensors to record performances of the band members which is then streamed over the Internet to the stage of the main performer to control the playing of the same type of instruments.


Remote Recording


Remote recording, or remote collaboration, is nothing new but another application of IoT in music production. This allows producers to record bands while being in different studios. This is done over video conference software which aids in communication. Dedicated music production applications and tools, such as Ohm Studio, allow musicians to collaboratively record and produce music over the Internet. However, IoT can be used to further enhance the whole process of remote recording.


IoT can allow producers to record the performance of a musical instrument in a specific environment, without them needing to visit that place just like The Universal Orchestra launched by google. 



Remote Live Mixing

The image shows the layout of Shure SCM820

Layout of Shure SCM820


Remote live mixing would be the process of live music being mixed in real-time by a mixing engineer in a different location. There are so many networking audio mixers, like Roland VR-3, Behringer X32 Core, Shure SCM820, and others, available in the market but none of them offer remote control via the internet, which can be a great addition. A mixing specialist could then be sat in their studio with a live stream of a show in an alternate area, blending the sound continuously distantly.


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Generative Music and Algorithm Composition


Generative Music is a term promoted by Brian Eno to portray music that is ever-changing and unique, and that is made by a framework. Algorithmic composition is the method of utilizing calculations or discretionary information to make music, and these two fields of study at times consolidate when being applied.


IoT can create a huge impact on generative music and algorithm composition due to the vast amount of data like traffic information, weather data, or a person's health statistics, that IoT devices share. For instance, continuous ecological information of a city could be taken care of into a generative music application, planning mild to melodic scale type, wind speed to rhythm, contamination level to harmony thickness, etc.





In an era where musicians are trying to create masterpieces and stand above the rest, IoT can help them in achieving this. The Internet of Things is an extremely captivating and valuable field that will no uncertainty become more conspicuous in all pieces of life sooner rather than later, including inside the music innovation industry.


We are now observing both DIY and purchaser instances of music-related IoT gadgets and stages, and because of the fast improvement and decreased expense of innovation, the quantity of these gadgets will rapidly increment, possibly changing the manner in which we make, produce, and perform music. 

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