Thank You, Mesquite.
See You Next Year…

So, I am writing this sitting in the 111° sun next to the pool at the Casablanca Resort in Mesquite, NV. For about a year now, I have been doing again what got me into the audio thing in the first place. I've been playing music. In fact, this run in the last town with casinos as you head north on the 15 into a corner of AZ and then Utah marks a year that we have been coming up here to play. I think we have done 25 dates here in the past 12 months.

All of the cliches are still true. The money for most bands is not close to being enough to make a living on. (I have two full-time players in the band. One gets a lot of corporate work and does ok financially. The other does not and is lives on less than I like to think about.) When you work the casino lounges, the night can be brutal. We are currently doing five one-hour sets per night, five nights in a row. But I spend the afternoons hanging out at the pool or getting a massage at the spa. It totally doesn't suck.

I bring it up because word of me playing again has kind of gotten out via my personal social media and such and I am consistently taken aback at the folks who send me private messages expressing a wish that they were doing the same thing. There have been a lot of, "I just wanna get off the road and get a little band together and play local gigs" communications lately.

And I can't help but think that there are two reasons. 1) It sounds like a lot of fun. And, I'll be honest, it is. Last night, we ended with the lounge packed and them begging us to keep going at almost 2AM. And we probably would have except the poor sound guy, Glen, would like to, you know, go home… But adding to the fun factor is 2) the fact that the pace of change in audio is getting faster and it is getting harder to hold on.

There is an important distinction in that last phrase that may not be immediately apparent. The Pace of Change. If you are a follower of the work of Ray Kurzweil, then you understand the concept of an exponential world. It is kind of a contradiction of something like Moore's Law in the computing world.

Moore (an Intel engineer) posited back in the 1970s that computing power would double and the price fall by half roughly every 18 months. That stayed steady—or appeared to—for about three decades.

Kurzweil says that not only will change be more pronounced when it arrives but also that the rate itself will continue to increase. That is the whole exponential thing. And it holds true. You just don't see it until the pace starts to get out of hand.

And in our little live audio world, it may be—for many—getting out of hand.

When I first became part of this world as the founding editor of FOH in 2002, we were just at the dawn of the first battle in what I have been calling Console Wars. At that point seeing a digital console on a tour was really unusual. And if I saw one, it was a Yamaha PM1D. Period. But it was not long before Avid (then still Digidesign) Profiles, the occasional D-Show and something called a D5 from a new company called DiGiCo started showing up.

Then, again, by 2008, pretty much every major console maker had digital stuff and I was as likely to see a Profile or D5 or Yamaha PM5D as I was to see an analog stalwart. By 2012, it had changed again. Midas had totally shaken up the market by slashing prices about 30%, DiGiGo had upped the game substantially with their Stealth tech and the SD line and we were all still waiting for the next move from Avid and Yamaha.

And now in 2015 we have those answers with the Rivage PM10 from Yamaha and the S6L and S3L-X from Avid. And at the same time, Roland is coming on strong with the M-5000. While DiGiCo is in the under-$10K market for the first time and Midas has a big emphasis on the M32 at under $5K. And both of those statements would have been unthinkable as recently as a year ago.

And yes, I know I am leaving companies out. SSL, Soundcraft, etc, etc. But this is not about companies or products. It is about time.

We had about 40 years of fairly stable growth and incremental change. I mean, let's be real, the “revolutionary” changes from that period were incremental by comparison. Then we had about six or seven years between battle one of the digital era and battle two. Then four years until the next and now three years before the current round.

It's exponential.

If we are gonna stay part of this world we have to be ready, willing and able to embrace very rapid change. Cuz things ain't gonna slow down.

Hang on. Or leave. Those are the choices.