Content Creation has been a focus for PC vendors and their supply chain partners (Microsoft, Intel) to counter the decline of their device category. Featured use cases have been image processing (Adobe) and advanced PowerPoint (in addition to high-end gaming). PC makers have largely ignored the millions of recreational, semi-professional and professional creators of music and performance content: songwriters, performers, publishers.
Yet, the use case is compelling:
- Real time analog-to-digital conversion requires some serious processing muscle
- Clip editing, mixing, notating require high-res displays and a rich visual canvas
- A software ecosystem exists in the form of DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations, such as ProTools, Ableton or OpenLabs’ Stagelight), VSTs (virtual instruments) and open libraries of clips, loops and samples.
In the meantime, Apple gets it: their cross-platform music creation app (Garage Band) is stealing the hearts and ears of musicians around the world. The MacOS / ProTools platform is the de-facto standard for serious musicians. Why? Because music recording, editing, mixing, mastering, publishing just works. In true Apple fashion, the UX is practically plug-and-play, allowing the content creator to focus on what they do best: creating content.
On Wintel PCs, different story: PC hardware and their internal (oftentimes on-mobo) soundcards refuse to talk ASIO (a driver protocol standard defined by Steinberg), resulting in horrendous real time headaches, especially when processing MIDI input signals. It is left entirely up to the user to stitch together hardware, driver, and software platforms and troubleshoot (good luck with that!) even before they can compose/record a single note of music.
Here’s what I think needs to happen:
- PC vendors should come up with “Composer Editions”, with fully integrated, ASIO-compliant soundcards and audio instrument interfaces that are pre-configured and pre-tested.
- Intel hardware and Microsoft OS should figure out a way to make plug-and-play interoperability easy and seamless to the user, much like Apple’s integrated platform has
- “Composer Editions” should bundle leading “freemium” DAWs (ProTools First) or trial versions (OpenLabs’ Stagelight Trial) pre-configured and ready to rock!
- The PC industry should leverage consumer events such as CES, and musicians’ forums such as NAMM to reach music content creators with similar levels of live demos and on-stage tutorials that are presented today for high-end gaming.
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