Tony Visconti is a credible source on the subject of the evolution of the music industry and the impact of technology on sound engineering. This is the man who produced Thin Lizzy, T Rex, and Sparks, among many others, and who has worked on “over 20” David Bowie records.

He recently blasted the current condition of the industry in an interview with Super Deluxe Edition, explaining why’some young person who is a whiz on the laptop’ is the only aim of today’s record business executives and why there is no room for a new Bowie.

And his opinion of Auto-Tune is very obvious.

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In honor of the introduction of a new vinyl and CD boxset titled Produced by Tony Visconti, which features releases spanning the producer’s entire career, an interview was recorded with Visconti. There was a lot of ground to cover in Visconti’s discussion on his career and the evolution of the music industry and recording technology over the course of those six decades.

But a producer of his stature and body of work is entitled to (quite) a few “back in my day” comments about how great things were.

To wit: “The ’70s was such a golden decade because people were making real records [in] real studios, with great musicians, and we didn’t have Auto-Tune,” as Tony put it. Labels signed talented artists; they didn’t sign a pretty face, alter her voice, and Photoshop her images to make them more marketable. Everything is overused, and nothing is ever changed. There is no longer any individuality in the vocals unless Auto-Tune is deliberately used.

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In addition, Visconti recently commented on the current state of the music business, saying, “They almost bypass producers completely and go with some young person who is a whiz on the laptop and makes their own stuff.”

Still, he had some nice things to say about these computer-generated works, so don’t throw out your computers just yet. Now everyone has a recording studio in their laptop. They’ve been sending me these huge demonstrations. At other times, we simply import them into my Pro Tools studio. And because the prototypes are so promising, we keep expanding them.

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The legendary producer concludes that it is not the musicians or the producers themselves who deserve criticism, but rather the industry that supports them.

Despite the fears of record companies, people are still creating genuine music. Labels lacked the guts to take risks, thus progress was made despite them. Someone like Marc Bolan or David Bowie emerges. There is no need for new Bowie at this time. He is far too radical for that. You certainly wouldn’t have a top 10 sound. No longer do we see as many groundbreaking innovators.

He also makes a valid point. This is Heroes.

A satisfied Visconti concluded, “I’m quite delighted with my life’s work. I’ve been in the workforce for well over half a century, and here I am.


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