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2011-04-15
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Autotune And The Music Industry

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Tagged As: Business, Music, and Technology

Sometimes one wonders whether many of today's pop stars are really talented at all or whether they're just successful creations of promoters, record labels and computer technology. After all, in many cases artists don't even write their own songs but are chosen by a label to cover something created by legions of songwriters. Modern technology has provided algorithms for fingerprinting music such that attributes and metrics can predict the popularity of a song. Regular folks use that technology in the form of Pandora Internet Radio and Shazaam. But another piece of technology that is often overlooked is Auto-Tune by Antares. The software was designed to fix pitch imperfections and correct other nuances of vocal performances - it's essentially the singer's equivalent of models getting airbrushed to perfection. It's also been used to deliberately add warble and electronic tone to voices as used intentionally by Cher's Believe ... but also seems to be used endlessly by modern pop artists like Britney Spears. Ever wonder why live performances either sound horrible or feature obvious lip-syncing? Or that a spot performance on a talk show without all of the technology in place seems so awkward? So all record producers have to do now is tap from their supply of song-writers, practically synthesize the appropriate beats to match an algorithm's fingerprint, hopefully get a pretty face and auto-tune her voice. Is it any wonder we get subjected to horrible music like Rebecca Black's Friday with such fixed rhythms and blatant autotuning?



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