January 19th, 2021

Technology helping to reduce barriers in music industry

By Kalinowski, Tim on February 20, 2020.

Mark Campbell, assistant professor of music and culture at the University of Toronto Scarborough, answers a question during a symposium on digital audio arts and music sociology Friday at the University of Lethbridge. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald


While barriers to inclusion still exist in professional music studios today, those barriers are gradually decreasing thanks to accessible recording technology becoming more publicly available. This was a major theme at the recent “Social Distinction in the 21st Recording Studio” symposium held at the University of Lethbridge.

“It’s not necessarily that doors are opening,” said Mark V. Campbell, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough who was one of the presenters at the symposium. “I think technology is the opening. People are getting access to technology so that they can set up their home studios and go about creating what they are going to create. So there is a way to think about the good that exists in studios.”

“Anyone can have their own setup, and it’s really convenient,” agreed symposium attendee and U of L grad student Toby Bol, who goes by stage name Sykologist when he puts on his hip-hop performer hat.

“You have to spend a lot of money to begin with, but you can afford it and add things at your convenience. Just the fact it’s making it convenient, a lot of us can make great music now without having to go to a studio and spend thousands of dollars to record music. You want to work an album there (at a professional studio) you are going to have to spend a $15,000 or $20,000 budget. But for less than $3,000 you can put together your own studio, and sometimes even for a $1,000 you can put together a decent recording studio at home.”

The professional studio space itself is also changing thanks, in part, to this trend toward home studio setup, said symposium co-organizer Amandine Pras, who works as an assistant professor in the digital audio arts program at the U of L.

“We (at the symposium) are treating the recording studio as a workplace, and we are looking at all the social aspects of this workplace,” she explained. “The populations that work in this workspace, and the globalization of this workplace.”

Even though it was not happening as fast as she would like to see, she believed established recording companies are taking notice, and she hoped they would start including more people of diverse backgrounds and genders in the technical professions among their employees.

Pras admitted she had once worked in the recording business as an audio engineer, and felt the discrimination she faced as a woman made it hard for her to put down permanent roots in the industry before finding her calling in academia.

“That is one of the big exclusion topics (of this symposium), I would say. It is definitely difficult for a woman and non-conforming gender people to access recording studios as professionals – as sound technicians, producers and audio engineers.”

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