Since the outbreak of COVID-19, one of the areas that has seen a significant uptick in business during the pandemic are hardware and software companies specializing in home studio setups. Even prior to the pandemic, this market was on an upward trajectory. Futuresource Consulting found that the market for pro audio products in professional and home studio applications posted global revenues of more than US$1.2 billion for 2019, an increase of over 6% when compared to 2018, according to the industry report. With professional recording studios still in limbo due to shutdowns of non-essential businesses and lack of travel within the US, there is a massive movement occurring within the creative community to build records through a fully remote model.
Powering this remote work model are home studio and software companies like Antares Audio Technologies that bring the $100,000 studio sound to any bedroom or living room in the country. To discuss this remote working model and the role software is playing in this transformation of making hit records remotely, Fast FWD sat down (virtually) with David Przygoda, Chief Marketing Officer, Antares Audio Technologies, the developer of the popular software Auto-Tune.
Q: For some background, can you give our readers some insight into Antares Audio Technology (Auto-Tune)? What types of software does your company develop and what are the common use cases?
Antares develops the industry-standard software tools for vocal production. Our flagship product, Auto-Tune®, lets artists express their best voice with incredibly realistic-sounding pitch correction. Auto-Tune is more widely known for the “Auto-Tune effect” that is so popular across modern music genres. In addition to Auto-Tune, we also make other professional vocal effects that are all specifically engineered for various aspects of vocal production.
For instance, we have plug-ins that automatically create compelling harmonies from a single vocal track and others that recreate the sounds and characteristics of vintage microphones. Our mission is to help everyone find their best voice, whatever that might mean for them.
Outside of professional music production in the studio, our technology also powers a number of leading apps and devices. For anything that requires great sounding vocals, our tech is generally a good fit.
Q: You’re known for the popular software, Auto-Tune. Can you give us some insight into how your software is being used inside and outside of the studio setting?
Our technology is used in the overwhelming majority of songs currently on the charts, and it’s been that way for over 20 years now. And it’s not just pop, hip hop, and R & B – most genres have embraced our tools in one way or another.
For professionals music-makers, there are two things that are really important – one is sound quality and the other is the time and effort it takes to make a polished track. Since Auto-Tune tools help significantly in both of these areas, we’re a go-to for most creators. In some cases, producers just use Auto-Tune to smooth out a vocal that’s already pretty close to perfect. In others, especially with the top-charting tracks, the Auto-Tune suite of vocal production tools are used extensively.
In addition to pitch correction and polishing vocals, there’s the iconic “Auto-Tune sound” that’s instantly recognizable to just about everyone. The futuristic sound it gives to vocals is a staple of modern production, and you really can’t get it anywhere else. Artists use this on both their studio recordings and in their live performances. Sometimes just knowing you have that safety net as a singer gives you the confidence you need to really “go for it” in your performance.
Q: You spoke about the rise of the bedroom studio during the quarantine. Can you give our readers any sense of how much your software use has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US?
The trend of “hits” coming from bedrooms has been happening for some time and we’re only seeing that trend grow during the pandemic. We don’t share specific figures on sales, but we can say that we’ve experienced a significant increase in demand since the start of this “stay-at-home era”. Clearly, a lot of creative people are stuck at home and they’re spending more time doing what they love, making music. All signs point to more music being created now than at any other time in history. This is due to the democratization of professional tools, like Auto-Tune, but also to the ease of publishing to the most popular streaming platforms as well.
Q: Your software is used by many of the most prominent producers, engineers, and artists in the world. With most of the music community still unable to collaborate in person due to COVID-19, how is your company thinking about creating in the remote creative workspace of the future?
Thankfully, our vocal production tools work just as well on your computer at home as they do in a professional studio environment. You don’t need a big studio to use Auto-Tune’s professional tools – and that is something our team is very proud of. These days, remote collaboration is as easy as recording some tracks at home than sending the file to anyone in the world to add their parts. Recording in a pro studio with a bunch of engineers, producers, and musicians in the room is a great experience, for sure. But it’s definitely not the only way to make professional-quality recordings anymore. You’d be surprised how many hit records are made in a hotel room, in a basement, or even on a plane.
Q: During our conversation, you noted your software is playing a major part in the live performance/live streaming boom that is filling the gap for the inability to go physically on the road and tour. Can you give our readers more insight into how artists are using your software to produce their live streams?
For many musicians, live streaming has become a critical revenue stream and way to connect with fans while they can’t play out. A key benefit of Auto-Tune is that it’s a “real-time” effect. What that means is that our tools are well suited for live performance because there is an imperceptible amount of delay for the singer and audience. An artist can integrate our plug-ins into their live vocal chain easily and deliver a professional performance just like they were recording in the studio.
Outside of music, what we’re seeing is more people than ever are becoming digital creators. Whether that’s through music, live streaming, podcasts or something else, the human voice is a key part of that content. Since all our technology is rooted on improving the sound of the human voice, we’ve become an important tool in the creator’s tool kit.
For some streamers, that might mean using our tech as a creative effect, e.g, sounding like an alien, changing pitch, etc. The other use case is the professional polish to their sound. To cut through the noise, you need to sound professional. Not everyone can afford a top-of-the-line microphone or sings in-tune 100% of the time. This is where our tools shine. We want all creators, regardless of the genre or medium, to find their best voice.
Q: For the artists, producers, and engineers who want to pitch working with your company, what sort of things do you look for in creative partnerships?
First and foremost, we love working with people who are passionate, authentic, and love making great music. Auto-Tune really doesn’t have one set “type” of artist we work. Artists across genres love Auto-Tune’s professional easy-to-use tools. We do have dedicated team members for the major label artists but our team is very responsive to independent artists as well. For us, authenticity is key. In some cases, a partnership might mean working with the top-charting artists to make sure they know how to use our tools for their next record/tour. But we also have programs focused on highlighting the work of indie artists and music education institutions as well. When we’re designing a partnership we’re usually thinking about how we empower the next generation of music-makers. In some cases, that’s through mixing educational content like our partnership with ‘Pensado’s Place’, but in others that might look like facilitating production/beat battles with MixedbyAli or Twitch streamer, Kenny Beats. We do whatever we can to support our artist community.
Q: Lastly, what things can the consumers of your product expect from Antares Tech during the remainder of 2020?
We just announced something really exciting: Auto-Tune Unlimited. Auto-Tune Unlimited is the most comprehensive collection of professional vocal effects we have ever offered, and for the first time ever, our tools are available to everyone as a subscription. For one monthly price, music-makers get every edition of Auto-Tune and all of our other creative vocal effects. So no matter what your production workflow is, you’ll always have the professional tools you need.
It’s not uncommon for creators to spend thousands of dollars on music production software. By offering all our tools through a subscription, we’re opening the door for many more creators globally. In addition to these professional tools, Auto-Tune Unlimited includes free upgrades for as long as you subscribe and select access to new tools from Auto-Tune. And we’ve compiled an ever-growing library of educational resources to help creators really master how to use these tools. Empowering more music-makers is a key part of what we’re trying to do.
We’re very proud of how we revolutionized music production when Auto-Tune was first introduced over 20 years ago. And we’re even more proud to have stayed on the cutting edge ever since. Today, Auto-Tune tools aren’t just relevant in modern music, they’re essential. Auto-Tune Unlimited is just the beginning… it’s going to be a very exciting back-half of the year for us.