The power of the Internet, however, made itself felt when New Amsterdam’s offices in Brooklyn were devastated in Hurricane Sandy last October. As the story spread on Facebook and Twitter, people came to the label’s Web site and began clicking the “donate” button without any formal campaign at all. More than 400 people donated, and while the label is still figuring out exactly how much money was raised, it has enough to do the necessary repairs, and replace equipment and boxes of recordings. For although about 70 percent of New Amsterdam’s sales for most of its releases are digital downloads, a record label still makes CDs. “It’s like magazines,” Brittelle says. “There are always going to be people who want a hard copy.”
The effect on performers
For performers, new technology may have had the biggest impact of all. Todd Reynolds is a violinist and composer whose 2012 album “Outerborough” joins “a 17th-century violin and 21st-century laptop.” He has been working with digital music since the 1990s, but the advent of more sophisticated digital audio workstations — “daws” — helped him shift from improvisation to composition. Technology, he says, “allowed me to explore my own voice. . . . It’s definitely driven music forward.”
A drawback is that his audience doesn’t always know what he’s doing. In performance, onstage with his violin, he uses foot pedals to operate his computer, taking his single violin line and expanding it into broad orchestral textures, in real time. “After having improvised something from nothing but one note,” he says, “people still come up to me and say, ‘Did you play the tracks, too?’ ” — thinking, in other words, that the music was prerecorded.
But it doesn’t really matter, in the end, how much people notice.
“Technology is still a tool,” Reynolds says. He adds, “It’s really about the music: What does it sound like? What does it do? They’ll never know what goes into making those pieces. Nor should they know, nor should they care.” He compares it to an earlier technology: violin-making. The average listener doesn’t understand much about that, either, and that doesn’t matter. “It’s still about the music and the magic.”
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