Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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No shame in using free tools

This Indy Week profile of musician Al Riggs contains an interesting aside about GarageBand:

Yet when it comes to making music, he’s not some minutiae-minded perfectionist. He actually prefers cheap gear and homemade sounds, which help him sidestep the gatekeepers of the music industry and open the frontier to sidelined groups.

“There was an article on Pitchfork about GarageBand, and it was the case for and against GarageBand,” he tells me. Very little argument against the low-cost recording platform was given, except for the choice to spend much more money for some increase in quality. “All the pro-GarageBand stuff was from people of color and women and queer people. The audiophile types, from what I remember, were white men. You can kind of see where I’m going with this.”

It probably happens in lots of fields, but I’ve absolutely seen it in audio recording—an attitude that unless you spend a lot of money, your work is going to be inferior. GarageBand has issues, but it’s free with every Mac and incredibly powerful. (And for low-cost Windows 10 laptops, there’s also Reaper, a cross-platform multitrack editor that’s $60. And also Audacity, a free audio editor.)

There are some amazing $600 microphones out there, but there are also great ones under $100—and your iPhone earbuds will absolutely work in a pinch. If you’ve got an iPad or iPhone, Ferrite is $20 and has almost all the features I use on Logic on my Mac.

I don’t think there are any conspiracies at work here. People learn about a subject, dive in deep, and don’t even realize that their expertise and pursuit of perfection at any cost has turned them into gatekeepers. Yes, you can spend an almost endless stream of money on recording software and hardware… but you don’t have to. And a lack of fancy hardware or software should never stop anyone from podcasting or recording music. The upgrades can come later, or not. The important thing is to start making things.

[Hat tip: Chip Sudderth]

—Linked by Jason Snell

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