Month in music tech: the biggest news of March 2021
Here are all the new music technology developments from March that you should know about.
The hardware synthesizer market was relatively quiet this month, but intriguing music tech business developments and acquisitions were rife. Likewise, software and tech innovation brought AI vocalists and NFTs into the limelight, instigating heated discussions and new opportunities. For the first time in a while, talk of in-person events came back into the conversation, much to our excitement.
In this round-up, we recap the biggest and best news of March 2021, keeping you in the loop on announcements, product releases and new freeware you might have missed.
- Uli Behringer’s Music Tribe group has acquired Aston Microphones. The British award-winning mic manufacturer was founded by James Young, who says Aston is “honoured to share [its] journey with Music Tribe”.
- SoundCloud is set to be the first major streaming platform to direct user subscription fees to the artists they listen to.
- Teenage Engineering is a founding partner of a new enigmatic London-based consumer tech brand, Nothing.
- NFTs have surged in popularity this month after music artists make millions off the sales of NFTs. Tycho joined the fray and discussed the environmental impact, and Aphex Twin sold an NFT for $128k and pledges to donate to environmental causes.
- Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey acquires Tidal via his Square company, with Jay-Z stepping onto the Square board of directors.
- Gearslutz renames itself to Gearspace, in an effort to promote inclusivity.
- Behringer’s application for the Oberheim trademark is rejected.
- BandLab crosses 30 million users around the globe.
- Stacey Lee’s Underplayed documentary exposes gender inequality in electronic music. We explain why it is important but falls short in its solutions.
- Native Instruments and iZotope form an alliance backed by Francisco Partners and EMH Partners.
- Spotify came under fire as protests erupted, calling for fairer streaming payouts. Spotify retorted with its Loud & Clear microsite, offering transparency in its business model.
- An AI bot has reimagined Eminem’s My Name Is for 2021, eerily matching the timbre of the real Slim Shady’s voice. In South Korea, tech start-ups are using similar technology to create new songs by deceased artists.
- Summer NAMM 2021 is going ahead as an in-person event in Nashville and Superbooth 2021 will be held in September.
- Junkie XL reveals the production secrets behind his score for Zak Snyder’s Justice League in a new video series.
- Tom Oberheim has announced a reissue of the TVS Pro in a special edition run, with each one carrying an Oberheim badge and Tom Oberheim signature.
- Look Mum No Computer continues stunning us with his DIY antics and builds a functional vinyl DJ setup out of Lego, complete with belt drives and sample triggers.
- Love Hultén has transformed a Korg Minilogue XD into a gorgeous retro machine. It’s so attractive that even Hollywood actor Michael B Jordan has said he needs one.
- Analogue Solutions, the synth manufacturer behind the titanic Colossus synth, unveiled the Leipzig V3 maintaining the “wonderful, angry pure-analogue sounds” the Leipzig range is renowned for.
- Focal builds on the legacy of its revered Alpha range with the Alpha Evo 50 and Alpha Evo 65.
- Moog’s Sound Studio packages “everything you need” to dip your toes into analogue synthesis.
- MMXX T-APE is a flexible bytebeat synth-sequencer designed to fit in the palm of your hand like an unassuming cassette tape
- Beatport DJ is a new browser-based DJ platform. Beatport’s new tool is ideal for set preparation and trying out new tracks on the fly.
- Mixed In Key’s new free Satellite plug-in lets you remotely collaborate across DAWs and platforms.
- Roland revives the JD-800 in software form via Roland Cloud, sporting all the presets found in the original 90s hardware.
- Mastering The Mix has a new interactive mixing lesson on the Ultimate Producer platform, letting you test your mixing skills and improve them accordingly.
- Google has launched the Music, Makers and Machines exhibition, allowing you to virtually navigate around famous recording studios, take a close-up look at renowned gear and learn about the history of electronic music.
- How has Ableton Live changed since version 1? Julian Gray powered up some old MacBooks and found out.
- Sonarworks has launched the latest edition of its Reference monitor calibration software. We review the update here.
- Aphex Twin and ODDSound team up for the , a plug-in that can tune all compatible instruments and MIDI devices to non-standard tuning, opening up new realms of possibilities beyond western music.
- Cherry Audio releases the Eight Voice, a $29 authentic emulation of the Oberheim classic synth.
- Hainbach and AudioThing partner up to release Motor, a plug-in effect inspired by BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s Crystal Palace.
- Spitfire Audio continues its Abbey Road Studios collaboration with the Mrs Mills Piano, with the Paul McCartney seal of approval.
- Check out the best free software of the month in our Freeware Guide.
- Download 1.4GB of 80s synth sounds for free in IK Multimedia’s Grab a Synth Giveaway.
- Get free LinnDrum LM-2 sounds with Beaotic’s LmFree library.
- This month we give thanks and say goodbye to Lou Otten, the creator of the cassette tape, who passed away at 94-years-old. An estimated 100 billion cassette tapes have been sold since the format’s introduction.
- Malcolm Cecil, the creator of the legendary TONTO synth has passed away at the age of 84. The TONTO, or The Original New Timbral Orchestra, was the world’s first and largest multi-timbral polyphonic synth.
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