1. Tablets take off for music production. For such a relatively new class of products, tablets like the iPad have quickly become a must-have device. While we've had some great music software available for it in 2011 (Garageband is insanely good for only $5), 2012 brings us the serious I/O and accessories needed to take advantage of it's portability. Hit this one on the head. Tablets took off in a big way with both some serious I/O and software entering the market late in the year.
2. Plugins hit the wall. Yes, plugins sound great these days but that's the problem. Where do you go from here? When all the great analog hardware is successfully digitally duplicated by multiple companies (and even surpassed in some cases), it's harder and harder to come up with something new. Add to that the fact that the market is saturated, and you'll see some software companies falling on hard times in 2012. While there seems to be some plugin fatigue due to a lot of duplication (just how many compressors, flangers, chorus and delays can you make?), plugins still haven't hit the wall. This prediction may have been a year too early.
3. Pro Tools weathers the storm. While it may seem like this is the time when the Pro Tools hold on the audio industry is finally broken, let's not get too hasty. It's still the standard of the music and post business, and the pros (especially the big facilities) can't afford to make any changes now even if they wanted to (and they don't). If the pros use Pro Tools, than those aspiring to be pros must use it as well. We very well may see a new contender to the throne in 2012, but don't expect any big industry changes. Pro Tools does indeed look more vulnerable than ever, but there's been little erosion of their user base in 2012. I suspect that what will happen is that something new will sneak up on us in a way that before you know, everyone will be using it without much fanfare (Reaper perhaps?), but that's not happening as of yet. Scored on this one.
4. Studios make a comeback. Finally gear owners everywhere are beginning to realize that just owning the gear isn't the key to great sounding music (although it can be if you know how to use it, so keep buying those books, please) and the benefits of recording in a real studio. Look for the trend to continue in 2012 with even some new facilities coming online. Most of the larger studios are relatively busy, but they're not turning away business either. While it seemed like there was a major comeback underway there for a minute or two, it hasn't materialized as I thought it would. A miss.
5. SSD's are everywhere. I predicted this last year, but it was a bit premature. In 2012 you'll see the beginning of the end of the spinning mechanical hard drive and the inclusion of solid state memory in just about every newly designed piece of music gear. Add to that the fact that hard drives have actually gone up in price thanks to the recent floods in Thailand while SSDs (solid state drives) have continued to fall, and you'll find that you might have bought your last ever mechanical hard drive. Missed on this one too. SSDs may be the way of the future, but even the hard drive shortage didn't bring down the prices enough for everyone to forget about spinning magnetic drives.
6. Apple gets into the television business. This isn't directly about music production, but it does apply in a round about way. It's been rumored for a while that Apple will be introducing their own branded television soon, and that seems inevitable at this point. The bigger rumor is the fact that the user interface is every bit as groundbreaking as just about every other Apple hardware or software product. As a result, the digital living room will finally come pass in 2012. Virtually every other product that the company has released has affected music production, from their desktops to the Macbook Pro to the iPod to the iPhone (have you heard some of the music recorded on it?) and iPad. I predict that elements of the user interface of the iTelevision (or whatever it's called) will find it's way into the gear that we use to produce music, making things simpler and easier in the process. And this will happen in 2012. I think I missed this by a hair. The Apple TV was reportedly scheduled to make its debut late in the year but was pulled back to work on some interface and licensing issues. The rumors now are that we'll see it at MacWorld in late January. How will that affect the audio business? We'll still have to see.
7. EDM breaks out in a big way. Electronic Dance Music is the biggest trend that the mainstream music world still doesn't know about, but not for long. 2012 will be the year that it finally breaks out. Here's another one that I hit on the head. EDM definitely broke out big time in 2012.
Okay, so I only hit 3 out of 7, but that doesn't mean that the other 4 won't come to pass. In fact, you may see them all as a mainstay by the end of 2013. Have a happy new year everyone!
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