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    How Cloud-Based Music Production is Driving the Next Wave of Music Makers

    Posted on: May 1, 2020

    By Matthew T. Shelvock

    Cloud-Based Music Production (CBMP) services support the creation of sample-based and synthesizer-based music. They have become widespread in today’s music production community with platforms such as Splice boasting over 2.5 million subscribers. Several other well-known services include Loopcloud, Noiiz, and 99 sounds. As a result, CBMP skills have become a new standard competency for many contemporary producers.

    Although creatives working in numerous genres use CBMP tools, these technologies have been particularly appealing for hip-hop music producers who, historically, were known to sift through crates of vinyl records in order to find audio samples from which they could create beats. Contemporary beat makers have since added a number of new techniques to their repertoire because of advances in digital recording tools and cloud-computing.

     Defining Music Production

    Defining Music Production

    Many scholars who do not participate in record production define the term to mean “everything done to produce a recording of music.” Any reasonable definition of music production, however, must consider how the term is used by music producers and others who participate in the culture of record production because, for these people, a producer is someone who demonstrates a specific set of musical competencies pertaining to the production of a record.

    In their book 'What Is Music Production?', Russ Hepworth-Sawyer and Craig Golding suggest that engineers can be broadly classified into two camps: engineer-producers and musician-producers. Musician-producers often hire trusted engineers to handle production tasks which take considerable time and energy, and they tend to focus on songwriting, arrangement, coaching musicians, and personality management. Engineer-producers, on the other hand, tend to focus on recording, mixing, synthesis, sampling, and other studio effects, and these producers may hire outside help for instrumental arranging, orchestrating, or even songwriting. However, both types of producers possess skills as both musicians and engineers, even though their practices may favour one area over the other.

    In hip-hop, most (if not all) producers fall into the engineer-producer category, and they make beats primarily using digital recording platforms, sample-triggering devices, pre-recorded audio (i.e., samples), and MIDI.


     CBMP Services

    CBMP Services

    Cloud-based music production (CBMP) services use cloud-computing technologies to provide recordists with access to large libraries of audio samples, synthesizer presets, VSTs (including both synthesizers and mixing tools, in some cases), partially completed works, or completed works for remixing. In addition, some CBMP services such as Splice also allow users to automatically back up their work on the host’s servers, as well as providing web-based beat-making tools. The most prominent cloud-based music production subscription services are Splice, Noiiz, and Loopcloud.

    All of the major CBMP services offer what they refer to as royalty-free audio samples, which users can freely incorporate into their songs without fear of copyright litigation. Splice, for example, has over 1 million subscribers, and record labels also provide Splice with numerous types of audio samples. In addition, users have access to synthesizer presets.

    Although royalty-free audio libraries have been available for a number of years, the main innovative feature of CBMP services is that they aggregate numerous sample libraries using centralized digital databases. By collecting these resources, CBMP platforms make sample-based music production much more efficient.


     Sound-Tagging and Search Filters

    Sound-Tagging and Search Filters

    To aid searchability, CBMP services tag samples and presets with descriptive language, which users can use to filter search results. They also accepts more abstract terminology and to sort through results by applying various filters. These CBMP services significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to find the right sounds for any project.

    By incorporating these search features into centralized libraries, CBMP services have alleviated a major pain point for music producers. In the past, those who produce beats might sign up for several subscription services or would have to purchase costly individual samples or packs through one of many available loop-production services such as Loopmasters, Capsun, and Bingoshakerz.


    Making Music Using Cloud-Based Music Production Resources

    Free Chapter Guide on Making Music Using CBMP Resources

    This free chapter covers a number of sample-based music making techniques, and examines the musical implications for each one. It will show you how music producers use samples to create drum, percussion, and bass performances on records before moving on to vocals, synths, brass and woodwinds, guitars (and plucked instruments), keys, FX, basses, and strings.

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    Backup and Sharing of Digital Music Projects

    Backup and Sharing of Digital Music Projects

    In recent years, it has become a standard practice for studios to keep many terabytes of extra hard drive space available for creating backup copies and to safely store old projects. However, some CBMP platforms have disrupted how producers store these contingency copies of their work. This alleviates a significant stress, which producers routinely face, and, as a result, most producers welcome the chance to remove the threat of losing their work.

    Some CBMP services offer free and unlimited automatic backup services. Splice, for example, provides the Splice-sync feature. Once this backup system is in place, Ableton, Logic, Garageband, and Fruity Loops project files will be automatically uploaded to a remote server every time the user saves their work. Alternatively, Loopcloud allows producers to back up their library of audio samples so that they never have to worry that their creative materials—namely audio samples—will be lost due to a failing computer.


    Access to Professionally Created Sounds

    Access to Professionally Created Sounds

    CBMP services make professionally created sounds available to users for a low monthly fee. By using these services, even beginner music producers can familiarize themselves with the types of sonic resources heard on records they listen to. This considerably reduces the learning curve for those seeking to develop production competencies such as sample manipulation, synthesizer programming, editing, and mixing audio. In fact, users can access Just Blaze’s drum samples (Jay-Z, Young Guru, Kanye West, Saigon, Eminem, The Game) which are featured on numerous chart-topping hits between 2000–2005 in a kit known as Meow the Drums (available on Splice).


    Rent-to-Own DAW Plugins

    Rent-to-Own DAW Plugins

    Another feature of some CBMP services is that they allow users to rent- to-own a variety of expensive DAW plugins. iZotope’s Ozone 9, for instance, has a retail price of $499, which may prohibit numerous amateur producers from purchasing the software. However, with more affordable monthly payments, these producers can access iZotope’s numerous mastering capabilities.

    Xfer Records’ Serum ($189) is an ultra-high-quality wavetable synthesizer, with an innovative animated graphic interface which allows users to modify wavetables in real time. Upon its release, Serum quickly became a popular plugin with tastemakers and musicians. The plugin is also used by numerous famous producers, such as Kanye West, who was caught using a pirated version of the software in 2016.


     Music Making Community, Contests, and Collaboration

    Music Making Community, Contests, and Collaboration

    In today’s music-making scene, CBMP services provide an ideal place for digital producers to share their projects with other users, find collaborators, and participate in contests. Users can upload DAW project files from Ableton, Logic, Fruity Loops, and Garageband into a searchable database, and anyone with a Splice membership can access these files. These file-sharing capabilities significantly reduce the strain of searching for musical collaborators, which can be a difficult task for not only hip-hop producers but musicians of all types.

    For many digital music producers, remix competitions also provide a chance to gain exposure. While dedicated websites have promoted these events for quite some time, CBMP services also facilitate remix competitions through the provision of tools for community engagement.

    These competitions provide producers with a chance to showcase their work within a larger music community. In many cases, producers who enter these competitions begin to follow one another’s music and collaborate with each other. This provides value to these creatives since local amateur concert scenes rarely center around the creation of beats.


    This article was cited from Cloud-Based Music Production, by Matthew T. Shelvock.


    Learn How to Make Hip-Hop Beats Using CBMP Services

    Cloud-Based Music Production

    If you enjoyed reading this article, Cloud-Based Music Production takes you through the creation of hip-hop beats from start to finish – from selecting samples and synthesizer presets to foundational mixing practices – and includes analysis and discussion of how various samples and synthesizers work together within an arrangement.

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