How can you keep up in the fast-moving music and sound industry?

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of

Thursday February 10, 2011

I was asked to review a proposed syllabus for a qualification in music technology and sound engineering. There was a paragraph in the proposed syllabus that got me thinking...

"There are a range of resources available to support the delivery of this unit and it would be impossible to create a definitive list. Teachers should use those they feel most comfortable with. However in the fast moving music and sound industry it is imperative to ensure that the latest edition of any resource is utilized."

Clearly it is better to use new information than old, so the overall point of this paragraph is correct. However, it was the 'fast moving' claim that got me wondering. Just how fast-moving is the music and sound industry?

Firstly, let me separate out the two industries. There is a music industry, and there is a sound industry. But since the sound industry is more concerned with speech (in broadcasting) than it is with anything else, then these are clearly not the same industries. So how fast-moving is the sound industry?

I would take 'fast moving' to mean that there is rapid change in working practices. And yes there is change; there has been change, and there always will be change (hopefully, or I'll get bored!).

I could make a list of things that have changed over time. Let me say now that the dates are approximate and represent when technologies became widely used in practice, not the first instance of change.

OK, I know I have left out some interesting developments and many details, and some interesting developments in live and broadcast sound. But I think we can see from this that although audio is constantly developing, it is not in any sense what one could call 'fast moving'.

I would contend that it is far better to know, understand and be able to put into practice the 'eternal truths' of audio - things that never change, and of course to assimilate new 'truths' as they arise, rather than for instance to know every keyboard shortcut in Pro Tools or whatever happens to be the popular recording system of the day.

Back to those developments I missed out...

A question... What is the one development that made most difference for you in the last 50 years of audio?

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