GarageBand is an extremely powerful, easy-to-use program that lets anyone create professional sounding musical recordings. But as you can imagine, not everybody was thrilled when Apple released it.
“They’re putting too much power in the hands of amateurs,” complained certain professional musicians. “This is like when Apple came out with desktop publishing. Everybody used all 22 fonts in every document, and every flyer and newsletter looked like a ransom note for the next two years.”
And sure enough, on the Web sites where people post their GarageBand compositions, you can find a lot of polished, professional sounding, handsomely processed…dreck.
But Apple has a long history of taking elite creative tools, simplifying them, and making them available to the masses. Yes, iMovie lets amateurs make absolutely terrible films, but it has also open the gates to talented filmmakers who otherwise would have lived in obscurity. One iMovie movie actually won a prize at Sundance last year!
In this regard, GarageBand’s cultural effects maybe even more profound. Until recently, the record companies were the gatekeepers to America’s pop-music marketplace, and therefore the dictators of musical taste to the masses. After all, the record companies had sole possession of the two things talented musicians needed to build an audience:
Production facilities, like recording studios, equipment, and engineers.
Distribution channels—namely, record stores.
As you’re already aware, ...