The rise of the DAW, VST plugins, Software Piracy & Bedroom Producers.

In this day and age, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on production equipment. This change led to the rise of the Bedroom Producer. For the most part, this is a result of a couple of historic events:

  • The invention of the Digital Audio Workstation(DAW)
  • The invention of VST plugins
  • Piracy of music production software
  • Music production blogs & Youtube channels
  • Because of the huge increase in the number of producers, there has never been so much electronic music being released. Some look at this in a positive light, making the argument that the overall quality of Electronic Music has increased. Others say the market has become saturated and it’s harder to go noticed. But how did this all come about? To answer that question, we need to go back to the 1970’s when the DAW was invented.

    The history of the DAW

    Back in 1976, the DAW was invented by Soundstream Inc. It was created to assist in the composition and creation of music. However, there was one problem that prevented it from being a huge success:. As time progressed and computers started becoming faster, better DAWs were invented. This made them more accepted to use in professional studios. Because of the ease of use, the popularity of DAWs quickly increased.

    Some of the most popular DAWs of today that offer VST support:

    • Steinberg Cubase
    • Logic Pro
    • Ableton Live
    • Cakewalk SONAR
    • Cockos Reaper

    If you want to know more about the history of the DAW, have a look the following Wikipedia page and article..

    The history of the VST plugin

    Almost twenty years after the introduction of the first DAW, the Virtual Studio Technology (VST) technology was introduced by Steinberg. Steinberg is a name that you might be familiar with if you’ve installed a plugin. The map Steinberg sometimes gets pointed to as the default location when you install a plugin. The company, who’s also the creator of the popular DAW Cubase, invented the VST (Virtual Studio Technology) in 1996. This version of Cubase came with the first VST plugins: Espacial (a reverb), Choirus (a chorus effect), Stereo Echo, and Auto-Panner.

    Cubase was so kind to make the technology free and open for use by other developers. Needless to say, there were many people interested in the technology ranging from big companies to hobbyist developers. From this point on everyone could make their own VST plugins. If it weren’t for this event, people would still be limited to using hardware to produce electronic music. While the use of hardware is still preferred by many producers, the entry barrier to becoming a producer has lowered.

    There are three different types of VSTs:

    • VST Instruments: Can generate sounds on it’s own. Think of synthesizers, drum machines, drum synthesizers and sample instruments
    • VST Effects: Used to manipulate an audio signal. Think of chorus, flangers, reverb, distortion, limiters, EQ etc.
    • VST Midi effects: Manipulates the Midi information/notes.

    The introduction of VST3

    VST3 is the newest VST-technology and was developed by Steinberg as well. It improves computer performance by applying processing to plug-ins only when audio signals are present on their inputs. At this moment not every DAW offers support for VST3. Because some companies were having difficulties implementing the new technology it’s not as widespread yet.

    The introduction of Max for Live (M4L)

    Max for Live is a visual programming environment that allows users to build instruments and effects for use within Ableton Live. With devices like Max for Live, it has become even more accessible to make your own plugins than ever before.

    If you’re not familur with M4L and want to get a better understanding of what you can do with it we recommend you read this article by Resident Advisor.If this article has peaked your interest and you’re looking into making Max devices yourself, check out this article and Youtube video.

    Reason finally supports external VST plugins

    One of the most recent news in plugin-land is that after 17 years, Propellerhead Reason finally acknowledged the importance of offering external plugin support. When Reason was made public in 2000 it was hugely popular because of its unique interface and workflow. However, its user base saw a decline because they didn’t offer any external plugin support.

    If you want to know more about the development of the VST, we recommend you read this wikipedia article

    Piracy of music production software

    Piracy has without a doubt contributed to the increasing amount of producers: Cracking Ableton requires very little effort. With the possibility of getting many plugins without paying as well, starting out doesn’t have to cost a dime. While piracy in some cases has been proven to lead to increased sales, it can also give problems to smaller plugin companies.

    Music Production blogs & Youtube channels

    In the old days, people had to learn how to produce the old-fashioned way. Music production forums & Youtube channels made it even more accessible to learn the basics of electronic music production.

    The Bedroom Producers Blog for example is a blog dedicated to inform you about free VST plugins and samples. The fact that a huge amount VST plugins are being offered for free shows that the VST landscape has become very competitive.

    Final words

    What is your opinion on the rise of Bedroom Producers and the amount of music being released? Do you feel the market is saturated? Also, have you ever considered making your own VST-plugin? Let us know.

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