The Death of “Industry Standard”
For the past few decades, one particular audio software company has positioned itself as the “industry standard” through the combination of marketing and a vocal user base.
At its most benign, the term “industry standard” is used by corporate entities to demonstrate, maintain, or expand their market share. This is an important goal as seen in the recent acquisitions by venture capitalists of media software companies Native Instruments, Izotope, Brainworx, Plugin Alliance, and Avid, the makers of Pro Tools. This is also demonstrated by venture capitalists’ pursuit of other software companies such as Ableton, and for that matter, Ableton purchasing Cycling ’74, the makers of Max/MSP.
At its worst, “industry standard” creates a conceptual framework that is used by companies and their user base to dismiss, shame, marginalize, mock, ridicule, exclude, and generally bully people that use one of the many other digital audio workstations (DAWs) that are not considered by these companies—and many of their users—as “standard.”
The above might sound overly dramatic to some, but pedagogically it becomes a question of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in—and out—of the classroom. What about students using inexpensive, free, or open-source platforms? Are they made to feel “less” by their use of a platform that is not “industry standard?” Does such treatment motivate students to use hacked commercial software? How do we encourage creative and technological work both at school studios, and away from school studios, in a way that includes students who are unable to afford access at home to “industry standard” DAWs and their required hardware?
Drawing from modern pedagogical studies, long-tail economics, and the history of select contemporary DAWs, I will use examples from social media, popular magazines, and professional organizations to support my arguments, which are rooted in my extensive experience in the classroom and professional recording studios.
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