Is Mobile Music becoming truly mainstream?

The last two years have seen mobile music creation get better and better, largely due to the iPhone and now the iPad. I’ve seen more and more mainstream music making sites start featuring mobile applications on an increasingly frequent basis. Sites like Matrixsynth, MacMusic, CDM (although CDM was always interested in mobile), and many others.

Only in the last few weeks we saw the publication of 101 Amazing Apps. A few years ago that would have been largely unthinkable, but now, mobile is really gaining ground.

So is it becoming mainstream? Jordan Rudess recently said that the iPhone and iPad were part of the future of electronic music. I’ve thought that for a long time, but it seems that more and more people are switching on to the same way of thinking.

So what does it mean? I’d like to hope that more of the large manufacturers will start bringing in mobile apps and hardware integration too.

There haven’t been too many mainstream artists take a look into the mobile world, but perhaps that will take off soon as well.

Is it a good thing? How will it change applications and hardware? Time will tell, and hopefully it will be a good thing for developers and users.

What do you think? Clip to Evernote


  1. Probably Rudess is at the same time right and exaggerating a bit. I'm convinced that touch screen interfaces (more than a specific product) are the new and big thing in music making. It's more a matter of applications than of the hardware itself (though, that's what makes is possible). On the other hand, as I have pointed out elsewhere I feel like this whole touchscreen business will be a bit like the vst “revolution” not too long ago. Touchscreens will be a big part of electronic music in the next 5 years, but we will also soon realize the limitations of it.

    The other aspect is more connected to the possibility to be really mobile with hardware devices. It's an evolution that is going on since a long time, but only now it's starting to get both affordable and useful (and a bit fashionable as well, to be earnest).

  2. And te limitations of the “vst revolution” are?

    Lack of multiple simultaneous control, i.e. point and click mouse input over controls without dedicated hardware interface. Multitouch input of iPad etc. fixes that to enlarge degree, making an all in one solution.

    Add to this the MIDI keyboard input available now to iOS touch devices and the gap is largely bridged.

    New hardware is essentially the same DSP and CPU processors in a tactile box, so it's hard to discern the difference between touch devices and dedicated hardware, in my opinion.

  3. The limitations of vsts (and all the other virtual instrument/fx formats) are basically due to the fact that you loose a tangible device, sound quality sometimes is less good, and that you're limited by how much processor power you have.
    Given that the latter has been widely solved, in a live as well as in a studio context people started using hardware again (together with virtual devices).

    The limitations of touch screens are certainly bound to the low processing power and the fact that you lack something physical to interact with. Both aspect which will probably be solves sooner or later (reactable somehow shows one possible solution btw.).

    The mobile aspect on the other hand is a complitely different pair of shoes. I'm quite conviced that we will have more and more small devices for the mobile artist's need, which may also attract new people to making electronic music. But I guess it will not really replace the good ol'way anythime soon, it's more something that will expand the musical world instead of replacing it.

  4. Amazing Thread!
    Yes! I think this is PART of the future. And more and more we will see little music devices. Look at Korg, everything they are releasing lately is small and lightweight.
    Mobile Music is becoming more mainstream, no doubt, but it will never get completely mainstream.

  5. Mobile music will be mainstream at least in the way that garage band is used by many main stream artists on the road. They don't use it for their final recordings, but they use it for creative development and a quick easy way to get ideas down.

    I personally know an up and coming artist who has a traditional production workflow, but is constantly using his iPhone to quickly record vocals and lyrics as a way to capture the ideas before they get lost.

    If you take a look at Kanye West's last couple live performances he uses his MPC live on stage to make the beat. Fast forward a couple of years, and I think it's easy to predict there will be artists doing the same sort of thing with iPad/iPhones.

    On a side note, I recorded this freestyle while riding my bicycle and made the beat at the laundromat. Now THAT is mobile music!

  6. Who appointed Rudess as the mobile music production evangelist? I'd be much more interested in what Trent Reznor has to say about the subject, for example.

    Anyway, it's pretty much a given that mobile devices will be considered serious hardware for music production in the near future. Tablets especially will see wide use, and no doubt the iPad will dominate this space. All it takes is for the hardware to get a little more powerful and the software a little more “pro.”

    I think 2011 will be a pivotal year for mobile music, with better hardware and most especially better software.

  7. yeah good question, who appointed Rudess as the mobile music evangelist? Guess it was he himself!

    In fact a statement from Reznor would be really interesting!

    I guess you're right, the iphone/ipad will dominate… but I hope we will see something new on the horizon sooner or later.

    And btw. I don't think the ipad makes music more mobile, it's not really that much more portable than a small laptop. It really depends on how you define mobile of course…
    I'm wondering right now if we will ever see something lile a touchscreen equivalent of the monome… you know something simple, open, hacklable, but equally elegant and brilliant!

    The more I think about it, the more I think it's people like those who invented the monome who are really making the difference, not the big companies like Apple. Fortunately there's some of them developing for the iOS platform…

  8. It will become mainstream in the way that mobile cameras and video have become mainstream. Give people easy-to-use tools that they carry with them all the time and they will use them.

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