Well now, having left you all hanging on to the edge of your seat last month with my parting promise that I would reveal an exciting new venture for Sound On Sound in 1989 that will change the face of the music industry, I suppose I had better spill the beans - although it has been fun listening to the rumours and speculation about what we are doing! So here goes (eyes down for a full house)...
March 10th sees the inauguration of The Music Network, Europe's first on-line computer communications system dedicated to musicians and the music industry. Thanks to the emergence of a common standard for electronic musical instruments (MIDI) and the proliferation of low-cost computers and modems, almost all the necessary elements to enable us to communicate with and send musical data to fellow musicians have been within our grasp. The missing link in the chain, until now, has been the lack of a suitable global telecommunications system capable of coordinating and transporting the specialised information musicians would want to send, namely MIDI data. That situation has now changed thanks to The Music Network. It is now entirely possible for musicians with a common interest to send all manner of messages, electronically, to one another, regardless of where they may be.
'Big deal' you say. You bet it is! The Music Network has the power to transform many aspects of our industry, just as MIDI has done. For example, it is the ideal medium for companies to provide 'user support' to their customers. Instead of them spending hours answering the same questions about problems with a piece of gear, and repeating the same information to the next caller or letter writer, it will be possible for manufacturers to 'publish' the solution electronically on The Music Network, where it will be available for anyone and everyone (if wished) to read, now and in the future. If a TMN subscriber has a problem with their synth, they will be able to access a Helpline database, enter a few criteria, and search very quickly for the answer to their problem. If they can't find it, all they need do is publish their query for everyone to read, and check their electronic mailbox for replies.
As another example, it will be possible to swap synth patches, sequences, drum patterns, etc, with other TMN users - even collaborate on songs with somebody you have never met on the other side of the world!
This may all sound like pie in the sky but it does happen - in America. It has taken The Music Network to make this valuable service available to everyone in Europe.
The above are only general examples of what TMN will have to offer subscribers. If you turn to page 96, you can read all about what SOS plan to do on the system, and how it can be of real benefit to you. Major music companies have already recognised the immense value of The Music Network and will be giving it their full support. That's good news for us and, more importantly, good news for you if you choose to become a subscriber.
We'll be reporting regularly on The Music Network's activities in coming issues of this magazine, for we believe it is an exciting and tremendously important breakthrough that will be of genuine benefit to our readers. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, have a read of pages 86, 87 and 96.
Editorial by Ian Gilby
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