As more creative connections are being formed online through social media, more collaboration is happening online instead of in the same physical space. While online collaboration is maturing in areas like writing, it hasn’t really advanced in regards to music and the entertainment industry. For musicians recording remotely—say, from their tour bus—collaboration is a huge pain.
Sound engineer Young Guru, who has worked on most of Jay Z’s albums, among many other projects, envisions using a telepresence headset like Google Glass as a solution. "I think collaboration is the main thing people are going to find interesting," he says. "Seeing what others see, and being able to work hands-free."
While some of the miscellaneous parts of creating a new album lend themselves to remote work, most of the process, like the actual recording, still happens in person. For musicians to set up their own remote conferencing solution, even using a product like Skype, is still complicated and lacks the intimate feel a lot of musicians thrive on.
"Imagine sitting there and being able to look at the actual drum set that’s being played or looking at the guitar and being able to easily collaborate. There will be apps to record in real time with that other person and coach them versus having to send an email of an audio file. You won’t miss the human interaction [with Glass]," says Guru, who has been part of the Google Glass explorer program. In partnership with Google, he has also helped announce more music commands coming to Glass. The headset can now identify songs around the user as well as pull up songs on demand, just by asking.
The Internet has already delivered on its promise of disrupting the major labels' stranglehold on distribution, but it has yet to fully deliver on disrupting the music recording process. There are bands out there that are currently willing to make the Internet work for them as a musical platform like independent band, Canopy Climbers, but they are just few and far between. The three band members from Canopy Climbers had previously lived in close proximity to each other, but when the time came to record a sophomore album, none lived in the same city, or state. The band took to the cloud and recorded each part of the whole album on their own and shared the tracks using Dropbox and other tools, eventually mixing the music all together. Would Glass have helped during recording remotely? "Collaboration is almost always a good thing. A way to feed off of one another's energy and ideas," says lead singer Alan Thomas.
Google introduced Glass with a broad vision, but few specific examples of how to use the product. Getting Glass into the hands of industry professionals like Guru allows them to take theoretical ideas and put them into practice, seeing if the tool actually works. Beyond any prompting from Google, talking to Guru about Glass allowed me to hear his passion and belief that Glass will transform the way musicians connect and collaborate online in a meaningful way.
The most important question for struggling independent musicians, is will Glass—as a music tool—enable them, even without the patience of Canopy Climbers, to record and be a band in different locations? Most likely it will. Guru added, "Glass is going to extend everything people are currently doing now. It frees you up instead of keeping you looking down at a phone."