Apple Demos GarageBand To SXSW Attendees
From SxSW - Apple Demos GarageBand To SXSW Attendees
by , 3:30 PM EST, March 22nd, 2004
Apple's Production Line Manager of Consumer Audio Apps, Xander Soren, helmed a panel at last weekend's SXSW Music Conference in Austin, Texas. South By Southwest is an annual conference and festival for Web, Music and Film Industries, and has grown among the ranks as a premiere industry event. Mr. Soren was on location demonstrating GarageBand, Apple's new consumer-oriented recording solution, to festival attendees.
Attendance at the 12:30 PM panel was half the capacity of the room, with some 40 or so badge-wearing industry types and independent musicians coming to see what Apple was offering. An additional 10 or so that filtered into the panel for the Q&A section of the panel.
Though GagrageBand itself is aimed at musicians who are doing their own home recording, much of the audience in attendance came from the professional recording market. A mixture of musicians and engineers, the former were there to see what GarageBand could do for them, while the latter were there to see if GarageBand was a new tool for their studios.
The first part of the demonstration focused on the basic usage of GarageBand as a live recording application. Rachel Sage of Empress Records manned a MIDI keyboard, and created music using a variety of organic and synth instruments found in the GarageBand library. Mr. Soren walked attendees step-by-step through the creation of a new project, using various functions throughout, including MIDI note altering, and the various filters offered in the GarageBand template.
The Q&A session was the most enlightening portion of the demonstration as it offered a view as to what types of people were in attendance, and what interested them in Apple's latest foray into the professional music market.
The majority of questions focused on industry-specific topics such as looping in different measures to modifying keys/chord changes within the pre-made Apple loops. Another angle of interest came from the professional audio technician side of the room as they asked specifics on compatibility issues with other established audio tools such as ProTools Box support, and more importantly to them, 24-bit exporting, which GarageBand currently doesn't support.
Impressed, more or less
On the whole the attendees to the demonstration seemed impressed with the ease of use and GarageBand's hefty feature set including the variety of synth instruments available to users.
One engineer was impressed that the loops are all royalty free, as music copyright is a hot topic in the music industry at this time. When asked whether he would buy GarageBand, or a Mac for that matter, one musician said he thought it was a great application, but it currently didn't warrant him purchasing a new laptop. Being a musician for some time, his setup for sound recording had been put together piece-meal long ago, and currently satisfied his needs.
The same musician did state that GarageBand and the demonstration would be an important influence in his next computer purchase when it would be necessary to upgrade past his basic 8-track/Moog set-up.
If you are interested in GarageBand, we encourage you to check out the GarageBand Garage, TMO's forum for GarageBand users.
The Mac Observer Spin:SXSW has become a heavy hitter in the music and film industries in recent years, and continues to draw increasingly technically-savvy attendees. It seemed that this panel missed its target audience in the sense that GarageBand is marketed to general audio consumers, while many of the attendees to this panel were professional audio engineers. While the musicians seemed to be attracted to the application because of it's feature set and ease, the professional audio guys seemed, not too surprisingly, a bit un-phased.
GarageBand and ProTools or Logic is similar to the comparison between iMovie and professional editing suites and editors. Most pro editors wont touch iMovie at all, and would opt to use Final Cut instead. The same seemed to be true here with the audio capabilities of GarageBand paired against Logic and Logic Pro. The pros require more power and tools, and will be drawn consistently to applications that meet those needs.
All of which is to say that Apple needs to get the message out about GarageBand. Indeed, this particular panel is a perfect illustration of that. Apple needs to let aspiring musicians, and musicians recording out of the garages and bedrooms, and even DJs looking to mix their own tracks and loops know that GarageBand is a digital solution for them.
GarageBand is a fantastic piece of software that could bring a lot of new musicians to the Mac platform, but Apple has to market it.
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