Why Mobile Music is important (part 1)

I wanted to spend some time in May taking a deeper look into a range of topics around mobile music. I think that there are a lot of questions that warrant more time and investigation, and so often we don’t get the chance to do that.

To start with I want to ask, and hopefully answer, this question.

Why is mobile music important?”

You might think that the answer to that question is self evident, and you might wonder why someone who’s been involved in mobile music for the last 8 years (or probably a lot longer actually) would ask something like this.

The reason that I think it’s important to ask this is because it is fundamental to the ongoing expansion of the community and to getting some perspective in terms of why anyone should start down the route of making music on a mobile device.

Being able to answer this question gives us the ability to continually push the mobile agenda and become a real voice for change in the music tools industry. Of course, you could argue that this has been done. You could say that where we are today reflects the fact that the argument has already been won. However, I’d say that this is an argument that we’re going to continue to face for a long time to come.

There are also those who might state that there is no longer any such thing as mobile music anyway. That the distinction itself is no longer valid. I did in fact hear that from someone in the academic community not so long ago. It’s a point worth considering. However, for the most part, I think we still face a lot of the “it’s just a toy” or “it’s only a fad” treatment that was characteristic five years ago and long before that, and, to be fair, back then it was largely true.

But now, in 2014, I firmly believe that it’s a different story. The question is, why and how do you get people to accept it as a fact?

You could answer that in a number of different ways. Proving something like this isn’t always about numbers (although numbers is something that we need to deal with at some point, and I think I might tackle that separately).

In fact when you start to look at the dimensions of this question it is actually pretty huge and in many ways there is only one place from which you can answer the question, and that place is in hindsight. So perhaps a better question would be:

“What would the music making world look like if we were sitting, ten years from now, looking back at 2014 and saying, yes, that’s when it was obvious that mobile had taken a real hold.”

If we could answer that, if we could say what that looked like then I think we’d be well on the way to understanding what needs to change in order that mobile can get the kind of recognition it needs and deserves, and along the way we may even answer some of the questions that John from the Music App Blog poses in his piece about iOS not being mainstream.

Over this month I’ll be asking a lot of questions, and raising issues that I think are important and that require a bit more time and thought. I hope you’ll find it as interesting a journey as I do.

14 things to show you love mobile music: 14 – Keep on making music

It may sounds simple, but it’s what drives us as a community. Whatever you do, don’t stop making music. Keep at it. Even if you only have a few minutes a day to spare to your music, keep it going.

And most of all, enjoy it.

14 things to show you love mobile music: 13 – Experiment

It’s important to try new things, and if there’s one thing you can say about the world of iOS apps, and Android to a lesser extent, is that the range of apps is incredibly wide, and within that range are some really interesting and experimental apps. Apps like Stria, iPulsaret, Donut, BitWiz, and many more besides.

It maybe that those are the kind of apps you love already. It maybe that you’ve no idea what I’m talking about when I mention them. Either way, one of the great things about mobile music, and about iOS and the app store is that software like this is available and at very reasonable prices.

My personal view is that it’s excellent that developers are experimenting with these kinds of apps, taking music creation and sound design in really exciting directions. Equally I think that users should branch out, try new things and new ways of making sounds and music.

I know that lots of you already do this, but if you don’t, try something different.

Find your iPad on the Apple Store.

14 things to show you love mobile music – 12: Support the wider mobile music community

I’ve mentioned supporting developers, and the blogs and sites that bring you news, but there are other elements of the community that are just as important. Who? People like App Sound, people like Miselu, and many others who innovate by bringing sample packs, sound banks, hardware and more that adds to and enhances the mobile music experience.

There are so many people and organisations trying things out and attempting to make creating music on a mobile device even better. Innovation is hard and I think that it’s really important to support people who are experimenting with new ideas and concepts beyond just the app. It’s people like the two I’ve mentioned and many more besides who are going to take mobile music in directions that I haven’t thought of as yet, and I’m looking forward to seeing what and where they’re going.

14 things to show you love mobile music – 11: Think about doing live stuff

It didn’t used to be the case, but now you can find lots of examples of people using mobile devices and apps in live performance. Sometimes it’s using apps as controllers, but increasingly it’s using them to make the performance itself, which is amazing to me as only a few years ago this would have been unthinkable to many.

So consider using some of the apps you use and love in your own performance set up, and if you do, please let me know how it goes.

14 things to show you love mobile music – 10: Share what you know

There’s loads of really useful videos on YouTube of people showing off the apps they love in tutorials or live or in a host of different ways. It doesn’t take long to put up a video if you’ve got something to share and it might just be what another user is looking for.

14 things to show you love mobile music – 9: Be a part of the community

There’s plenty of community to be a part of now. There are lots of groups on facebook and reddit and plenty of forums to be a part of too. These can be great places for getting your questions answered and learning how other people have overcome issues you might be facing. So give them a try, you’re sure to find the right community for what you need.

14 things to show you love mobile music – 8: Don’t just talk about it, tweet it

Twitter is where a lot of the mobile music community congregate, not the only place by any means, but it certainly is very popular with developers, bloggers and plenty more besides. So if you’re not on twitter already, give it some thought and join the conversation.

Find your iPhone on the Apple Store. Find your iPad on the Apple Store.

14 things to show you love mobile music – 7: Gift someone a music making app

In fact you can go one step better than telling people about mobile music, you can gift them an app if they’re already an iOS device user. What simpler way to get them started, and with plenty of cheap apps available it won’t cost you much to show how much you love mobile music.

Find your iPhone on the Apple Store. Find your iPad on the Apple Store.

14 things to show you love mobile music – 6: Tell people about it

It’s so easy to forget that plenty of people have no idea about making music on mobile devices. I was reminded of this just yesterday at a music tech / business meet up, and I have to keep reminding myself of the same. It’s easy to overlook.

So tell someone else about mobile music. Maybe someone you know who used to make music before and doesn’t have much time now, or who’d like to get into music making. Whatever you do, spread the word.

Find your iPhone on the Apple Store. Find your iPad on the Apple Store.

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