I'm writing this post because of a few experiences I had over the
years into world of amateur music production (but I'm sure it does
applies to every artistic domains).
I'm an amateur musician and a Linux enthusiast, and even though I work
as a developer, my professional activity doesn't directly have
anything to do with both these
domains (although in the case of Linux this is quite a shame, but
that's another subject). But one thing I am surrounded with at work is
I have setup a pretty nice home studio in my flat: electronic drumkit,
alright USB sound-card, good quality speakers, electric guitar, pretty
big guitar fx board, USB
keyboard with a lot of knobs, few synthesizers and......a laptop
running Ubuntu, Ardour, Hydrogen, AlsaModularSynth, Yoshimi, LV2, etc,
etc and etc...
A few of these colleagues came to my place to play music, and all of
them were impressed by the level of investment, and invariably the
first question that comes
up is the price of all the hardware and software... So when I
explained that I gathered the hardware over the last few years and
that the software is free, I always get
that little wink and smile:
- “haaaa 'free'? Bittorent yeah?”
- “no no no...not THAT free... I'm using Linux, and I'm trying to make
a point of using only free software in my music production... Actually
it's not free as you think it is,
I do try to make some donations every year, blablabla...”
And invariably, I get “the look” (you all know which one I'm talking about)...
As the sessions go on and my colleagues see the different software in
actions, they always start to make the comparison with what they use
in other OS: “Wouah I
can't do that with my drum machine! And this software Ardour is pretty
cool, and I really like the sound of this synthesizer! What is it?
AlsaModularMix you say?
Well it looks weird but I like it!”...
Then as the conversation goes on on gears and software, it generally
goes like this “oh, I bought this synth because Trent Reznor from Nine
Inch Nails is using it
and I wanted to get that sound...”, “this guitar fx? Bought it because
the guys in Slayer are using it and I love” (yes all my mates and
myself are metal heads!).
So I started to think... And I thought a little bit more... All the
people I know in the music world, we always use references to known
artist: “Trent Reznor uses this,
The Edge uses that, Brian Eno has this synth, etc”. There is even a
website that list the gears used by famous guitar players.
I have a couple of friends back in my home country who are trying to
build up a recording studio... They work 100 hours a week recording
and promoting local bands,
they eat pasta because the money is tight.......but they spent I don't
know how much into brand new Macs and software licenses...
I can hear you from here already “WHY DID YOU NOT TELL THEM ABOUT LINUX???”
- “Yeah RIGHT! Every known musicians use Macs! They are designed for artists!”
Really? Who decided that? Aaaaaaahhhhh yeah I forgot, Apple is very
good at advertisement... See that little illuminated apple at the back
of every of their laptops?
That sticks out well when Trent Reznor posts pictures of his studio,
or when you see pictures of ?uestLove on stage...
- “Linux and stuff... It's for free... It must sucks... I mean you
need loads of research and money to create the software to play
- “It's not stable enough...”
Ok, I give you that... But we have come a long way... And I bet that a
good Ubuntu setup without alpha or beta versions of any software would
And obviously the user base on proprietary software is bigger, so more
testers, more feedbacks... But hey, look at my laptop, pretty stable
- “It's too complicated... with these command lines and all...”
Hmmm yes and no there... Yes setting up a Linux machine with a low
latency kernel is quite complicated... But remind me how much did you
spent to setup your
Mac? And yeah you are right, we used command lines in Linux... But YOU
don't have to! When was the last time you saw a Linux machine? Ah
yeah, when I
show you my Mandrake machine 10 years ago... Well we came a long way
since that time, you should check it again! I mean playing, recording
music on a computer IS a complicated business, whatever OS you use.
- “And when it doesn't work, who do I ask?”
Hmmmm, when Cubase doesn't work, what do you do? Oh yeah, you google
your issue and you browse around forums to find a solutions...
Actually when you have an issue with your mac in general, is it Apple
or a dude on some forums who gives you the solution?
So I thought a little bit more... In the world of artists (I thinking
here especially about music, but it is probably right in other
artistic domains), brands are created
because artists use them, no?
And SERIOUSLY, in the world of music, the Open Source world certainly
have brilliant tools! And the Open Source certainly has to speak to a
lot of artist if they
knew about it? The sense of freedom, the sense of sharing? Isn't it
what Bob Marley or Rage Against the Machine were singing about?
Trent Reznor (yes, I am a big fan) has been releasing music under
Creative Common licenses... He let the people decide how much they
wanted to pay for
some of his albums (remind you of something? Donations?). He let fans
record all the concerts of his last tour, let them mix it, cut it,
produce it, package it and
sale it (check out ThisOneIsOnUs). He even provided the tracks of some
songs for the fan to have fun and mix them differently... Surely a guy
like that would
understand the value of Free Software. And where there is one, there
might be others...
(Sorry for the long introduction but) What I am getting at is this:
Should we make an appeal to artists to produce something using only
Open Source software?
What do you guys think? Isn't it the best time to promulgate such a
message, with the social media and all? And if yes, what would be the
Or am I completely wrong? And there is something in the big picture I
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