The Challenges of Running Computers Live
Where once one could expect to see Marshall Stacks, towering drumkits and the stench of hairspray from the singer's huge hair, today's live stage is more likely to be filled with MacBooks and MIDI.
The Computer Music Revolution hasn't just changed the way most people record music, it's also changed the way live shows are put together. In some instances, it's completely changed the look and feel of live music.
We're very fortunate at iConnectivity, to count some of the world's greatest live artists amongst our family of users: Deadmau5, Pete Townshend, BT, Kendrick Lamarr, Halsey, Drake and many more, rely upon our interfaces to be rock solid, night after night - on stage or off.
There's one very obvious, and sadly increasingly common danger with running live shows from a computer, however, and that's the ever-present danger of a catastrophic computer crash.
A modern computer is so powerful and so capable of controlling virtually every aspect of our live shows, that it's become the heart of many musician's live performances. With that though, comes the great danger that with a computer failure comes a complete failure of the gig itself!
Your author's played a lot of live gigs over the years (yes - that's me in the picture), and I first used a computer, live, in 1999. Rodney, our VP of Product, was using computers live back in the 1980s. Nowadays there's a MacBook on the stage of every gig I play, and even when I'm not playing, I'm attending to musicians who use computers live.
There has always been one caveat, playing live with computers though, and that is to ensure that one always has a backup! That's not so easy if you're running an involved live show with MIDI patch changes being sent out left, right and centre.
I've lost track now of the number of times I've seen computers fall-over in a live scenario; the sound of the Windows boot screen has been heard over a few PA systems before, as has the frustrated screams of many an artist.
Just last month, your author was privileged to be working with the pioneering Radiophonic Workshop at a festival in Berlin. Right at the beginning of a piece, I was beckoned over to the side of the stage and was told that the MacBook had frozen completely. Thankfully all the musicians involved were exceptional at improvising - in this case, the backup was the pure talent of the performers!
We can now exclusively reveal, however, that we've been working on a solution for just these sort of problems. A solution which will ensure you'll never have to worry about a live show falling over, ever again.
Caught your attention? Thought we might! Tune in to the live stream on our facebook page next Tuesday to find out more:
What's been your biggest computer fail live? What's been your greatest save? We'd love to hear you stories!