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IoT technology is transforming the music industry


When we think about the role of technology in the music industry, our minds automatically turn to distribution and the shift from records to CDs to downloads. Digital downloads generate more than $1 billion per year, around half the overall revenue of the industry as a whole. Yet that’s only a small part of the story. The impact of technology has transformed every aspect of the music industry, from the way it is created to how it is performed and the method by which it arrives in your ear. IoT technology lies at the heart of that transformation, says Karoline Gore, freelance technology writer.


A generation ago, musicians simply needed to understand how to set up an equaliser and an amp in a recording studio and they were good to go. Today, there are several IoT applications that have opened up a world of opportunities, even if they have made things a little more complicated.

Google’s Universal Orchestra was one of the first examples and launched almost 10 years ago. Since then, other IoT composition tools have joined it, such as Patchwerk, the enormous synthesiser at MIT that musicians can play from desktops anywhere in the world.  These early examples are already starting to look outdated as new IoT composition tools come to the fore.


Remote or networked music performance allows musicians to play together when they are miles apart, as if they were in the same room. The practical applications of this type of technology came into sharp focus in 2020 and 2021 for obvious reasons, and some musicians found it gave their creative instincts a whole new lease of life. If you need evidence, look no further than former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters’ remarkable Lockdown Sessions, which breathed new life into some of the composer’s 1980s classics.

If you watch the video streams that accompany those sessions, they present some fascinating possibilities. For example, despite turning 80 this year, Waters is embarking on yet another European tour this summer. Imagine the possibility of being joined remotely onstage by his lockdown collaborators it blurs the very definition of what a live performance really means.

Remote recording and mixing

It’s not just the musicians who can collaborate while dispersed across the world with a little help from IoT tech. The same applies to those who are carrying out technical work on the finished product and sharing it for posterity.

Creating a live album has historically been a logistical nightmare, with technicians working in suboptimal conditions from the backs of trucks. Today, mixers and producers don’t even have to put their shoes on and leave their studios.

Looking to the future

So much for the current impact of IoT on music. But its influence has only just begun to be felt. In the 1990s, Bria Eno popularised the concept of generative music to describe compositions made using a set of data points. IoT and big data could take Eno’s idea in exciting new directions, perhaps using music to convey everything from an individual’s health to outdoor weather conditions all on a harmonic scale.

The author is Karoline Gore, freelance technology writer.

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