Back in the mid-1990’s I was part of a game software startup called “SolidState”. We were lucky enough to land a deal with NEC Japan to produce a game called “Dark Fiber”, a cyber-punk adventure based on a souped-up Myst QuickTime VR-like engine. We spent two years of hard work to create our game. When it came out, there were something like 2,000 other game companies vying for 200 shelf spaces in software stores that year. Needless to say, our 5 person company had a hard time competing, and we were ultimately unable to obtain a US distribution deal, and never saw a penny of royalties as a result. But it was a wonderful learning experience nonetheless.
One of the important things I learned was that all the game companies I was aware of were using a small set of audio tools to create those games. I also learned I had a passion for designing and optimizing game engines – especially audio DSP engines. With those two lessons learned, I concluded that the place for me was in the audio software business. It wasn’t very long before I was working at one of those companies: Passport Designs, one of the first developers of MIDI software on the PC.
The audio software business has grown up since then, and a lot of the obvious problems in the area of audio software have been solved. But then too, the number of people using audio software has grown and changed. Back in the “good old days”, only the most die-hard audio professionals were using audio software. But as great audio software and hardware got better and less expensive and computers found themselves on almost every desk or lap (or now palm) in America, a new breed of customer came into existence: The consumer-hobbyist.
As those hobbyists came online, many current sound designers found employment creating content for the hobbyists to use. This is what has happened with loop-based media used by programs like Acid or ReCycle: Growth in the customer base has created more jobs for people like me whose passion is to produce audio tools and media. This trend is continuing today and can be seen in the wide array of apps available for handheld platforms. The bottom line is that making music software more accessible gives more people the ability to tap into their innate desire to make music.
That is an absolute good – worthy of dedicating my blood, sweat, and tears to. So here I am!
Next time, I plan to write on the topic of how creating ways for people to specialize in an audio production field will actually improve music for everyone, so subscribe to my RSS feed now!