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Envelope Music Producers Roundtable: Has mobile technology stripped away emotion in pop?

February 2, 2011 |  3:47 pm

Technological advances in today’s evolving digital age have allowed music producers to venture from behind the studio soundboards and into the realm of endless mobility. 

During last month’s Grammy roundtable, the three hit-makers responsible for Grammy-nominated songs (Alex Da Kid, Ari Levine of the production trio the Smeezingtons, and RedOne) by Eminem, B.o.B., Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga, among others, spoke at length about how these advances have helped make their job more accessible despite rigorous travel demands.

Alex Da Kid said he crafted the hyperactive beat for Nicki Minaj's “Massive Attack” while riding a subway on the way to a studio in England; RedOne remembers writing the epic opening chords of “Bad Romance” while on a tour bus traveling with Gaga. “Love the Way You Lie” was mixed with Eminem in Detroit as Rihanna recorded her vocals at the last minute in Dublin.

“They can just send files from across the world to get stuff done,” Levine said. “Like [Alex] could sit on the subway with his laptop and make a hit song.... Now anyone can buy a studio in their house or on their laptop and make hits there.”

In the clip above, Times Pop Music Critic Ann Powers asks if anything is compromised by this sense of mobility –- especially whether the raw emotion of a song is depleted if the producer and artist never actually meet face to face.

Check back daily until the Grammy Awards on Feb. 13 to see more of this conversation on pop music.

Recent and related:

Envelope Music Producers Roundtable: Does genre matter anymore?

Envelope Music Producers Roundtable: Sampling from the past versus composing in the present

— Gerrick D. Kennedy