Technology has a tendency to seduce us and in many ways to trick us into thinking things different than they really are. The new Pro Tools 12.5 cloud collaboration features are Avid's way of helping to streamline the collaboration workflow and on the whole it has been done very well, you can read our Pro Tools 12.5 Cloud Collaboration review here.
However whenever a new technology (or in this case a revisited technology) appears we can tend to go all starry-eyed and imagine all sorts of possibilities. However the most important part of collaboration in not the technology but the people, I was reminded of this truth this week.
Jess, my writing partner, and I had got the barebones of a new song idea down, at this point it was feeling like a nice R&B/soul type track but we knew it was time for the guitars to go on. We had a nice vintage Wurly on piano, bass and some cool vintage drums doing their thing, as well as guide main and backing vocals. In my head I could hear some funky wah guitar and perhaps some other motifs. So I sent the track over to Paul Drew, who is not only a great writer and producer but got his chops playing guitar for a lot of top artists. I trust Paul, he doesn't need notes from me, sometimes he asks for a clue as to what I'm looking for, but as my Dad always says 'why have a dog and bark yourself?' In other words if you have someone experienced who you trust then let them do their job.
A few hours later the new guitar tracks were back - not an ounce of funky wah wah in sight - instead a choppy Telecaster, a dirty guitar track and a lead break. None of this had been considered, I certainly hadn't asked for it... but it completely transformed the track. I sat there smiling and got to work swapping out the keyboard and drum guides to something more rocky - it now sounds like an Anastasia track. Now the tracks have gone to James Ivey for drums, my notes were equally sparse, who knows what I'll get back. If you're a control freak you may not like this way of working but I'm of the mind why work with talent if you don't let them do their thing?
So my point is that the new Cloud Collaboration features in Pro Tools underline a truth about producing music... it still relies on having the talent. Like all technology; be that Pro Tools, Photoshop, or Final Cut to name three, irrespective of how many features you may be offered without talent it counts for nothing.
I know many experienced professionals reading this will be thinking 'no shit Sherlock' but for those of you still thinking that without the right hardware or software that you can't make great music it is simply not true, don't get into debt chasing that myth and certainly don't steal thinking it will help your quest for music production nirvana.
If you can't write great songs or make great records it isn't the technology that's your problem, invest in talent and the technology will take care of itself,