5 Reasons Musicians Don’t Need An iPhone

Our recent article on Apple’s iPhone 4 introduction and what it means for musicians – 5 Reasons Musicians Should Get An iPhone 4 – generated a lot of discussion.

While a few of the comments didn’t rise above crazy knee-jerk Apple-phobia (things like “i want to piss on you!”), most of the comments added thoughtful perspectives.

Now some other music websites, including MusicRadar and CDM, have joined in the discussion. CDM’s Peter Kirn, in particular, laid the smack down on me, saying “James at Synthopia lists a number of reasons to buy one that to me just aren’t quite right,” and going on to offer his idea of a reality check.

I’ve collected the most interesting arguments for why musicians don’t need an iPhone below.

Check ’em out and let me know what you think!

5 Reasons Musicians Don’t Need An iPhone

Windows Is The Top Mobile Platform

Over at CDM, Peter Kirn argues that the iPhone isn’t the top mobile platform for music, arguing that Windows is the top mobile music platform:

“The iPhone isn’t the top mobile music OS. That’d be … Windows.

Seriously. Top handheld, yes. Top mobile, no, because the remaining popular “mobile” solution for music is a laptop.”

Some readers had similar arguments.

Joel says “A Netbook with Skype and free Open Source Applications does more for much less – and no monthly fees. Plus it runs Reaper (licensed, of course!) just fine.”

“For the past year I’ve been using a $179 netbook that seems to do way more than my roomate’s Iphone. I’ve been amazed with how much you can get done with just a 900mhz celeron and XP. Especially without having to re-purchase your applications in a different format.” adds Chris.

iPhones are expensive and musicians are poor.

Several readers pointed out the the cost of a new iPhone is a lot more than the $200 phone cost, when you include the cost of a 2-year contract.

That’s true. When you include the phone & data service cost, iPhone owners are going to pay a couple of grand over a 2-year contract. That’s a lot of money for a phone.

Who can affort that sh**?

Real Musicians Play On Real Instruments. iPhone Apps Are Toys.

“Real musician play on real devices,” says reader trz303. “All those ‘music’ apps are nothing more than toys.’

And Chris notes that “Mutlitouch devices are cool and can be fun, but I’ve found the standard keyboard and mouse to be most productive.”

The tiny screen of an iPhone can be fiddly, compared to traditional music interfaces. And, while the iPhone 4 bumps up the screen resolution, it doesn’t make the virtual buttons & keys any bigger, or your fingers any smaller.

And the iPhone was not designed to be a professional musical device, so it lacks the standard connectivity that would ensure interoperability and quality audio output.

We Live In The Future And The Internet Is Awesome

Kirn argues that musicians don’t need iPhones, because we live in the future and the Internet is awesome.

I’ll let Kirn explain himself:

Not needing a device or a platform is part of the beauty of this being the year 2010 and not 1984. In 1984, a sea of incompatible computers with proprietary standards for everything from simple serial connectors to displays cost more money, were harder to operate, and eventually wasted your time. (One plus: they hooked up to your TV set, no DRM-locked HDMI cables required …but I digress.)

Now, we live in the future. We can choose from platforms that use standards, that communicate via standards, that talk via The Internet and Internet Standards and Browsers so it doesn’t matter what gadgets your friends might have.

We have obscenely cheap electronics, so you can make electronic music with $30 in parts and a speaker, not a six-month residency at a prestigious Research Institution in Paris.

In other words – the iPhone locks you into a contract, the apps Apple approves and a limited selection of peripherals.

$30 in parts and a speaker, on the other hand, let you avoid the six-month residency at a prestigious Research Institution in Paris so you can make electronic music on the cheap.

I don’t need that crap!

“I don’t need that crap! I don’t need that crap!” says reader Andy.

Gordon fleshes this idea out a little better, saying “I find myself increasingly using a notebook for jotting down ideas as they come to me. By that I mean a $1 pad of paper and a biro.”

“Maybe a good test of whether or not some musical idea is worth developing or not is whether or not it survives in your imagination until such times as you have access to an instrument,” adds Gordon. “As for ‘on the go’, what about all of the real world around us – full of amazing possibilities – when we’re not intent on peering at yet another electronic screen?”

Could the iPhone be a case of too much technology and too much connectivity?

I’m Not Convinced – Why I’m Still Getting An iPhone 4

While I’ve heard some interesting arguments against the value of iPhones for musicians, I’m not convinced.

Here’s why:

  • Windows Is The Top Mobile Platform – Who says this is an either/or proposition? Laptops and mobile phones serve different purposes. Does an iPhone provide unique value to you as a musician vs a laptop? For some it will, others it won’t. I can’t fit a laptop into my pocket and mobile broadband service for laptops is pretty expensive, so a smartphone offers a great solution for me.
  • iPhones Are Expensive. Yes – but so are synthesizers, samplers, laptops, workstations, DAW’s, microphones, mixers and just about everything electronic musicians use. You should definitely consider the total cost of owning something like an iPhone before you buy one. But 95% of you already have a cell phone and the cost of owning an iPhone is competitive with other “smart phones”. So the real question is whether the added benefits of using a device like the iPhone is worth the additional cost of a smart phone service contract vs standard cell phone service.
  • Real Musicians Use Real Instruments; iPhones Apps Are Toys. This argument is entirely subjective. The iPhone currently offers the richest mobile app platform for music and there are a lot of musicians using these apps. And even if these apps were toys – music toys are useful, too. Musicians have long embraced non-professional instruments, including toy pianos and more recent “toy” instruments like the Stylophone.
  • We Live In The Future And The Internet Is Awesome! This is true. And “you can make electronic music with $30 in parts and a speaker.” But a lot of musicians need tools that just work – like keyboard synthesizers, samplers and, yes, iPhones. There’s a place for circuit bending and software hacking and there’s a place for tools that just let you get on with making music.
  • I Don’t Need That Crap! This may be crudely stated – but it’s probably the best reason to pass on the iPhone music software hype. My 5 Reasons Musicians Should Get An iPhone are just that: five reasons why you might want to get an iPhone. You may have one reason, like a preference for a hardware phone keyboard, that kills the value of an iPhone. Or you may not value the connectivity that devices like the iPhone provide. You may just be sick of the iPhone hype. That’s fine – just don’t think that this invalidates the experiences of the many musicians that have found iPhones to be powerful, invaluable tools.

So, there you have it. 5 reasons why you don’t need a new iPhone – and why I’m not convinced.

Got something to add? Leave a comment below!

Update: Peter Kirn offers his Haiku response at CDM.

I’m still waiting for the Scooby Doo ending to this discussion. “I would have rocked the house – if it wasn’t for those meddling kids and their iPhones!”

Image: Mrs Logic

60 thoughts on “5 Reasons Musicians Don’t Need An iPhone

  1. Well, hold on a second. This is interesting, but I'm not sure you fairly represented my argument. I think I was pretty clear that the point was that the phone is just one among many choices, and that some of the reasons you used to argue for the iPhone were simply not the exclusive domain of the iPhone (or Android, or any other single OS).

    No disagreement on cost; I only disagreed with the claim that the cost was a "couple hundred dollars." (And yes, I've blown plenty of money on phones!) Anyway, iPod touch — that's an inexpensive device at < $200. So it's the smartest way into the now-"iOS" platform.

    The Internet issue was that I don't think you should have to buy *any* app just to use basic Internet services. I love apps. Hopefully I'll get around to writing a little CDM/Noisepages app one of these days. But the level of functionality and accessibility should be 100% as complete without the app as with. I think that's just fundamental to making webpages. And, quite frankly, I'd like to see browsers get better (including, cough, even Apple's mobile browser, which has some rough edges).

    I'm not anti-iPhone.

    I'm only differentiating between "need" and "want," and between the iPhone and the range of other choices.

    And, incidentally, you could take that $30 synth, put a MIDI interface on it, and sequence it (via IK's kit) with a sub-$200 iPod touch, too, so everything gets more interesting when the full range of stuff is out there.

  2. And, to be fair, I probably wasn't *entirely* fair to your argument (though no "smack" intended, necessarily). It's obvious you were talking about good reasons to get an iPhone. I don't fundamentally disagree, I just had a different angle on it. 😉

  3. Okay, now I'll make a more constructive comment… Since starting using OS7 for graphics ‘back in the day’ I've turned into the stereotypical Apple fanboy although I try not to be pushy and evangelical about Macs. I own an iPhone and have just got an iPad. I haven't really bothered with music apps beyond trying them out and going 'wow, isn't it amazing what you can do these days' and so far nothing has arrived that will change that just yet. Actually the plan is to use the iPad strictly for web browsing to try and get me out of the habit of constantly checking forums and news websites every time a file or operation I'm working on takes more than 5 seconds to complete. It's seriously impacting on my productivity and I really want to get into the habit of not using the desktop for web stuff. As you can see, so far it isn't going well! But that's my reason why (computer) musicians should consider an iPad at least. Productivity. There are too many distractions for anyone who uses a computer to make music these days, which didn't used to be the case.

  4. Peter – if I misstated any of your thoughts, let me know.

    A lot of people are non-plussed by the whole iPhone/iPad discussion – but I do think handheld computers (vs laptops) are one of the most important new technologies for electronic music.

    I push this discussion, at the risk of drawing the ire of MirlitronOne and others, because I'm fascinated by the rate at which this technology is moving. It's amazing to me that your phone can run a drum machine, an MPC or a Tenori On style app.

    And discussing it helps me, at least, get a better understanding of where this is going.

  5. Yes, absolutely! And there, I agree. My point wasn't really all that complicated. I just disagree in terms of access to communities (via apps) and music (via iTunes), in that, to me, these are essentially functions of the Internet, not the iPhone. And that's a good thing; that makes the iPhone more useful, not less, because it's connected to these standard, open means of communication.

    I agree on the utility of these applications, so long as we're clear that the economics and usefulness of this will depend on people's specific situation.

    I wouldn't even say that I'm arguing the class is half full; I'm just saying, um, don't ignore the glasses on the rest of the table.

    And that was my point about Windows, Mac, and Linux. There's been this surge of interest in the iPhone, but if people really learn from the design patterns developed there, as developers they *should* find a way to apply it to these other devices. That's the reason Intel is pushing their new netbook app store initiative, whether it's ultimately successful or not. I think we could see something come out of this. It'll be a test of the music industry and developers to see whether they get over the sheer novelty of the phone thing, and work out how to learn some of the lessons that go beyond any one platform.

  6. Yes, he's a regular although I think there are a few piano buskers. I've always wondered where the piano is stored, apparently it's one (or more?) of the shops that store it. It's a historical town with a big tourism industry so we're a bit spoiled for buskers. We also regularly get http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Alleyne-Johnson and my own favorite an old guy who goes under the name of Heartbeat Candy and brings with him two dogs and a strange mixture of junk. (I tried to find a pic of him but I could only find this reference to him on the net: "… and Mr Heartbeat Candy, the man from York town centre who gets his dog to howl in time with his music, but declined an interview as he is worried about 'overexposure'.") Ah, found a pic in an article that says that amplifiers have been banned which explains why I haven't seen him in a while. Shame. http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/resources/images/93543

  7. Ha haaaa! Synthtopia, you ROCK!

    I steered clear out of the original discussion because well.. My background is IT, both professional as well as personal. I've also been involved with mobile computing so to speak (most of it being related to programming on Java ME) and my personal stance is that I think the comments about Synthtopia being "pro Apple" are unfair and plain out silly. I mean really; just look at the trouble you need to go through before your application even gets publicly available for the masses! To my knowledge (assumption!) you can't "just" install stuff on the iPhone; it all needs to be approved by Apple.

    So then its only natural that new apps will come in by waves. Just like its natural that whenever they do Synthtopia covers them.

    But this is showing 'm (sorta anyway) 🙂 I love it. And yes, I wouldn't be the critic I am when I'd agree fully with the story…. Windows the top mobile platform? Uhm.. Ratings point otherwise, MS is losing quite rapidly with their platform. And their upcoming release will only make matters a lot worse. Nothing has been confirmed as of yet, but it seems that the new "Windows mobile 7" won't be backwards compatible. In other words; if you bought software for your windows phone or PDA then you can forget about using that stuff with the upcoming mobile release. With Android and others on the current market that is not going to bode well…

    Can we say Katsjinggggg!?

    Alas.. I'm side tracking here, this post almost fits as a response to the original 😛

    Seriously; some points are not really well chosen IMO but I really enjoyed this one. Come on people; lets not shoot the messenger. Thats stupid.

    For the record; The reason I steered clear in the first place is because I have no love at all for the iPhone. I think its overhyped in many cases and also being used as such. That said; this doesn't mean I don't respect the iPhone (and this seems very hard for some people to comprehend).

    I like mobile gizmo's, love 'm. Yet I also like being able to do something with them ("do" going beyond your average usage). Like dumping Java midlets (my own programs) on it to make it do new stuff. And that's why my personal favorite is Samsung, currently got myself their Jet. The touch screen is interesting, the 5mp camera too, but most of all Samsung supports Java and backs up all their stuff with solid SDK's ("Software Development Kits").

    Those SDK's allow me to take on whatever the phone offers and fully exploit it. Its totally free, fully documented, supports several languages and options. I can in depth access my phone using Java (Samsung even extends on this) as well as use their widget system.

    All the tools are there, yet hardly any musical software. Gee, I wonder why?

    Get over it; some platforms are better for these kind of things than others. And when looking at the specs its IMVHO quite obvious that the iPhone is one of those platforms.

    My phone is better at doing regular polls on the servers I maintain at work (I'm a sysadmin) and the moment something goes wrong I'll even know before our (too expensive) hosting company does.

    Aaaaah… And there you have my rant.

  8. Sorry for the quick response (I really should /read/ before posting) but…

    Reread my story and immediately thought "talk is cheap". So, if you are into the stuff I described then just look here: http://innovator.samsungmobile.com/

    Notice how it supports almost everything? Symbian, Windows Mobile, Java as well as their latest Bada ? Its all there for the picking.

  9. "Anyway, iPod touch — that's an inexpensive device at < $200. So it's the smartest way into the now-"iOS" platform. "

    Amen to that. Here's the thing – I'll be using my ipod as a mutable effects pedal for my theremin, or as a looper, or to record performances. But not all three at once. (Even if it had full-blown multitasking at some point I would hit a limit to how much it could do at once.) So somewhere down the line I'll probably buy another. And then another… At £150 each that's OK.

    I don't need or want to pay for three mobile phones.

  10. Yup. Now, if Samsung and other handset makers would just write a proper audio driver for their card, you could easily use any one of those OSes to write these apps. Instead, though, we often get inferior audio drivers… and that's the real problem with audio on the Android phones, at least as near as all my research suggests with developers (and my own experience). Even Java can work fine, but you need the driver underneath to give you some love.

  11. Not sure which lessons you mean. I think some tech analysts are reacting negatively to Apple creating restrictions on developers and the store. And none of the positives you describe have anything to do with those restrictions. Blocking Adobe from making tools that compile native iPhone apps, for instance, may be a defensible position, but it doesn't have anything to do with these other apps you're enjoying. (For one thing, they came before that decision.)

    In fact, the enabling tech that Apple's gotten right is deeper than what's in the developer agreements or iTunes. It's getting good multi-touch sensors, firmware, and audio drivers. It's not even the issue of good hardware/software integration. Apple's doing the same thing everyone else does: they've got someone's audio chip, they write a driver for it. For whatever reason, they're setting the bar higher on how things like touch sensing and audio performance work.

    And the other difference – partly because of this quality gap – is Apple has the better developers, generally, at the moment.

  12. Dead on!

    Bottom line: why would you need such a driver for a frickin' cellular phone? The fact that Apple adds this to their iPhone platform doesn't suggest its the thing to have IMO. Yet isn't this fact by itself enough reason why you'd get more musically aimed (or related) software on the iPhone? And if so; why couldn't the iPhone be a platform favored by musicians? As I said in my comment above; when looking at the specs…

    I think that fact alone could make a difference here. Considering that Synthtopia covers musical / synth aspects I can personally really see why they cover the iphone products as they do and why "gizmo interested" musicians would favor an iPhone over a regular cellular.

  13. Well, the "why" I think is because people have expectations of their phone beyond just telephony, and for Android, at least, the demand is clearly there in the apps. It's absolutely doable on all these Symbian and Linux-based OSes. And the need goes beyond musicians. Musicians and gamers drove the need for audio cards on computers, but people wouldn't expect those features to be lacking now.

  14. Can't say I'm really enjoying Peter Kirn's Windows/Linux-centric babbling on Synthtopia. It's painful enough to put up with on CDM.

    Face it, Peter: you are as much of a fanboy as anyone out here. "Troll" comes readily to mind…

    I'm sorry you don't see the value of iDevices in music creation. Sorry, but disinterested.

  15. Fanboy of what? See above. Translation: audio drivers on Android from the carriers pretty much suck. Apple's are better. I don't think it's excusable, because I think in that case, Apple is right, and the other handset makers are wrong, and it isn't just a musician thing.

    I got into the conversation because I felt I was being made out as an anti-Apple partisan, and I don't think that's fair. I've been an advocate of creative music development on the Apple platform since literally the day it was announced.

    But you're right. It's not my site, so I'll shut up.

  16. Mobile devices are the future but the future is not ..now. Personally, i can afford an iphone 4 (even without a contract) and i was thinking about buying one but everytime i was looking at the price i was saying "damn! 2,5 months of hard work to get this shit? …and what happens if one beautiful day someone steal it or if i forget it in a bar etc etc…i will loose 800 euros out of my pocket". I know that someone would say that this could happen with a laptop, but you don't carry an expensive laptop everyday with you. Except this, i agree that this device for a musician is just "a popular luxury toy"…there are so many other cheaper and more efficient ways to do the same things…you can buy 2 netbooks instead of an iphone 4! Ok, they won't be equally portable, but you can always have better / more options with them, like connecting them with a proper soundcard and run millions of already available high quality and free apps.

    I think people are rushed to get to the future…but the future for portable music making devices is not here yet. Don't relate this with the gameboy scene etc..they where devices for games with a very specific sound character but music creation wasn't their first role….and they were extremely affordable (compared to an iphone).

  17. For me, trying to create music on an iphone/ipodtouch is like watching your favourite concert live through the keyhole of a door. You may watch the show, but you will NOT enjoy watching it.
    (I'm selling my ipod touch after one year of frustration – musical satisfaction means playing on real keyboard with 88 weighted keys and real knobs and drum pads that bounce back, etc … )

  18. I was about to say that too! I love hearing piano buskers, something completely different to the usual guy with a guitar singing wonderwall repeatedly. The music technician at my school (huntington) often busks in town with an accordion as well, I always like to hear him as well.

    I only moved to York just over a year ago and have yet to discover much about the city other than the obvious tourist attractions. Are there any places you would recommend I check out around the city to do with music or technology? I'm currently doing music technology A level and thinking of doing it at uni so reading this site is often really useful and interesting, glad to see other people from York as well.

    Thanks for any suggestions you can give me 🙂

  19. I am already looking forward to tomorrow's round of whining by people who's feelings get hurt by criticism of the iPhone. In an age that seems long gone now people would take offense to trivial things like calling their mother names. But how should I understand all this? I never even got why people identify with their cars and get angry when someone prefers riding a bike or even walking to being thrown around in a coffin of steel, aluminum, glass, and kilometers of copper wires to the sound of a combustion engine like laundry in an industrial washing machine.

    To be fair: I was once (before the advent of the iPhone) one of the people who got the blame for using Apple computers, even from the persons who said "But you're different, you know how and why to use this, and did not buy into the whole Apple thing because of lifestyle reasons". That was frustrating, but it's nothing compared to people who insist that a particular phone or device is the best (that depends on who's using it for what now just as it did 10 years ago). Reminds of one reason I quit dealing with free software advocates: They would also tell you that GNU/Linux is the best (or, wait, some would say BSD and its heritage was the only way to go) and all proprietary software is evil and should not be used (the same people that when it came to dealing with floor planning got out their copy of AutoCAD). I do not know why I am writing this exactly, no one will care anyway and really I couldn't care less about people who probably do not know the first thing about embedded design yet are advocating an embedded device as if their life depended on it. 😀

  20. Dude, if you don't read what I say, I can't help you. Note the name of this plugin is "intensedebate," not "intensenamecalling." And James, who has been doing a great job with Synthtopia, has been getting the same crap from Apple haters on the other side. I'm down with disagreement. But if you disagree with something, take the time to explain why.

  21. Many of Apple's decisions that turn off techies and developers are ones that are, arguably, behind the iPhone platform's success.

    For example – geeks would like Apple to support sidechain app loading.

    The first thing somebody like you or I would do, though, would be to download a tethering app so we can use the iPhone as a wireless Internet hub. Then AT&T's already-stretched network would probably collapse. The limit ultimately makes the experience better for the majority of users.

    Same with the App Store review process. This has kept out a dozen apps for controversial reasons, but it's kept out tens of thousands of apps that are nothing more than App Store search engine spam or worse.

    This means you can actually find useful apps to buy. It means that iPhone users aren't getting their credentials ripped off by malicious apps. And it means that you don't need anti-virus apps and headaches like that.

    Apple is a rare tech company that has learned how to say no to features and services that are only important to a niche audience. This frees up development costs and support costs so that they can focus on differentiating features that people will actually pay for.

  22. A computer is not a musical instrument either. That doesn't prevent some people from making good music on one. I think that all of this easy to use software just makes it easier for people to know together a loop and run it for several minutes and call it a song. But people do the same thing with the electric guitar.

    Not everything played by real musicians on real instruments is great music. it does not matter what tools you use. The result matters. So this Apple vs Windows battle is pointless in a way.

    No, not in a way. It is just a pointless waste of time that you could all be using to make music with the gadget of choice.

  23. I'm not sure I see the need for more discussion of whether or not iPhones serve a useful role in modern music creation. I reckon that ship has already sailed. You don't seem to value iDevices as musical tools in your world. Fine, you're entitled to your opinion. I was simply disappointed to find you ranting against Apple on a site that I rather enjoy visiting most days. Wrapping yourself in a cloak of Apple advocacy based on days gone by doesn't impress me. I'm just tired of the whining.

    Many people (myself included) appreciate the kinesthetic aspect of the creative experience on iOS. We look forward to new software that will expand that experience. We get tired of the criticism heaped on the platform by people who prefer to use other tools. Tools that seldom come under the same level of "analysis" .

    "It's not my site, so I'll shut up." Remember: actions speak louder than words.

  24. Well you should be aware of the University of York and the facilities that it has http://music.york.ac.uk/mrc/ Theres quite a bit of academic research type stuff going on there, especially with 3D Ambisonics and physical modelling from what I can tell. On a more musical front York has more than it's fair share of electronic musicians although it is underground in the old school sense that it's not immediately apparent at first and you need to know people who know people. There's only one club dedicated to electronic/club music, The Hub which is worth checking out if you like that kind of thing.

  25. Hi!
    When I sometimes post rude comments about all those iStuff toys ("I don't need that crap") please don't take me too serious. Nonetheless it reflects my opinion. Human beings started to make music ~35.000 years ago. Since then, the instruments as well as the music itself has been improved and developed (not always to its advantage, but that's a matter of taste) and completely new instruments have been invented. But, up to now nobody really needs an iPad or iWhatever to write or compose good music. It's an overpriced and overhyped toy from a company that tries to dominate the media industry. Well, they have every right to do so, but I don't have to support that.

    The second point is a very personal POV: as a pianist and keyboarder I think it's much more important to be able to play a real instrument instead of making music with an iWhatever. Okay, when somebody is using an iTrash, it doesn't necessarily mean that he or she can't play an instrument, but there're so many young people out there who just can move midi items in a sequencer's piano roll. But whoever want to call himself a musician should learn to play any kind of a real instrument, let it be a piano, keyboard, a guitar, a flute, or to sing or whatever. Learn the basics of harmonics, a bit music theory and then, if you don't know what to do with all your money, and you are really, really bored, then you can buy an iTrash. But seriously, who want to spent $1000 for such a gadget when he / she can play a piano? 🙂

    BTW: I also like new technologies. E.g. it's very nice to compose music using a computer and a notation software. It's very nice to use all those virtual instruments and DAW's with an "unlimited" number of tracks. But using technology should make sense. If it's just for technology's sake it can distract you. And all those iWhatever products just have one statement: hey look, what a fancy gadget. And listen: it can make noise. With nice animations. And it can control my toaster. All at the same time!

    It's just something for a playground show-off.


  26. iPhones aren't essential, but if you get your hands on one they are wonderful musical instruments. I've played my last five gigs with an iPhone, and used one for DJing out of a soundsystem built into a dustbin whilst wandering the moors.

    Whilst a lot of the sound-making apps don't hold my attention, I've been using RJDJ to run Sakonda's granular on it, and it's a wonderfully rich sound responsive to the tilt gestures which sounds no more like a 'toy' than any other computer music (and I'm unsure about the instrument>toy hierarchy anyways).

    They're expensive, no doubt about it – I've actually borrowed the one I'm using, but I'd shell out for an iPod touch if I had to. I'd probably stop buying music and download it from that internet thing for a couple of months to save some money up…

    ANDY – what's all this 'real instrument' talk? And all this 'call himself a musician', as though musicians are an elite clan of people? I often wish these so called 'musicians' would keep away from music.

    GORDON – what if we don't subscribe to the idea of music being something that starts as an idea in your head and is translated into sound by playing a machine? What if it's something less predictable that emerges out of interaction / engagement with a machine?

  27. "ANDY – what's all this 'real instrument' talk? And all this 'call himself a musician', as though musicians are an elite clan of people?"

    No. Noooo! It's really strange that some people presume that I talk about an elite. That's nonsense. My idea is that everybody (which is the opposite of elitist thinking) should learn an instrument to understand the basics and to learn that music is more than just to move samples around and much more that toying around with shiny high-tech gadgets. I don't say that everybody should *master* an instrument. But learn the craftsmanship and understand, that it takes time and effort. Everybody can use a sample CD with pre-produced musical snippets an tie them together. It just takes 5 minutes. Whoa, my new song. Dang, that's cool. — No, it is not! I mean, it's okay, when this is your goal, no problem. But don't call yourself a musician. You're a producer, if at all. But well, somebody who calls an iPhone a "wonderful musical instrument" would most likely call himself an aviation engineer when he's able to fold paper airplanes. 😉

  28. Windows mobile is crappy for music, get really! Windows systems are plagued with viruses! Keep buying your windows, I'll keep buying apple! The first article was right to me, the second article, this one is just sour grapes!

  29. I think a handfull of comments might have touched on this, but I think it's an opinion that needs a bit more attention… I, for one, have seen lots of stuff on the ipad and iphone that I'd love to have, the Interface is itsself fascinating and more intuitive for me, as far as running software music devices, the touch screen and gesture software is better than a keyboard and mouse ever could be. However, I think we, as electronic musicians, need to keep in mind when using these things as large components of our music that if such a device is capable of making music of similar qualities as you get out of it in the hands of any random 4year old layman who can tap their foot to a beat, then – in a sense, Everyone becomes a musician with that program – which also sortof means nobody who 'plays' it could be thought of as a true musician.

    (I'd love to know how everyone Else seems to be able to write huge comments, but not me!)

  30. Which is to say someone with studied specialised knowledge to operate a machine to achieve a musical outcome that not just anybody could achieve… This was always the magic behind a great instrumentalist… the ability to pull sounds and parts better than any other from machinery that does not necesarily give you any thing good at all without the knowlege of how to draw it out of it… and even then, the Best 'musicians' are the ones who can achieve new and more powerful results out of the SAME OLD machinery… Mozart did not invent the piano, nor add new keys… his genius was to get things out of it that were better than anyone else had done or could have done… As we move further and further into musical devices that are pre-designed to cut out all the mistakes and problems, devices that anyone, anywhere can play – then we lose the destinction with that instrument that Anyone is NOT a musician on it, which would also mean Nobody is…

  31. If your music is always available to anyone at all with the cash to buy a phone and app… to then shake around and tap to get good sound out of, then your music isn't really yours, nor your parts ones that you really play… all of those decisions and instrumentalities have been done already by the app maker, who then becomes the instrumentalist…

    (seriously… split mine up into three?! when everyone else gets pages and pages!)

  32. I sorted this dilemma out for myself by buying an Elektron Machinedrum UW. I thus have a real musical instrument (at least according to my definition of the term) and no funds left for the admittedly attractive iPhone. 😉

  33. Dude, good move! I run an all hardware setup and I'd love a machinedrum! Moreover, ten years from now I'll gladly pay you a big chunk of change to get my hands on one, whereas your 'first generation iphone' won't be worth the effort of licking a stamp…
    I'm still rocking my RM1X with several modules, a good controller, and a handfull of effects boxes… I love vintage hardware tho and am eyeing an mc-505… affordable more than top of the line… like the machinedrum you lucky so-and-so… Hardware becomes vintage, software becomes outdated and deleted… My two cents at least…

  34. After a long time of thinking and thinking again about purcasing an iPhone or not, I've got myself an iPod Touch (3G with 32GB), in spite of Apple's weird product politics.
    It's MUCH cheaper than an iPhone and still has everything you'll need for music – except a built-in microphone, which however is included with the supplied earphones, and you can get tiny plug-in mics on ebay for under $5.
    Originally I only wanted to use it as a touch-sensitive remote control (like a tiny version of a Jazzmutant Lemur/Dexter), using Novation's Automap software, but in fact I ended up using it as an incredible musical sketchpad.
    I use "Everyday looper" (great 4-track looper with seamless punch-in/out and built-in metronome), BeatMaker (An Akai MPC clone, NO TOY!), Xewton Music Studio (All-in-one "MIDI-only" Sequencer with good Built-in natural sounds+FX+PianoRoll-Editor), iSequence (Quick Pattern-Based music production, many great synth sounds+drums) and ProChords – for people like me that have no in-depth knowledge of harmony theory.
    BTW, audio generally has acceptably low latency and is usually adjustable per-app!

    All that has torn me from being an Apple-hater to somebody who, while far away from being an Apple-fan, uses this incredible gadget almost every day. Not to mention watching youtube videos over WLAN in bed 🙂

    I've just gotten the BlueMikey Stereo MIC which adds high-quality stereo recording to the iPod Touch. No more need for a portable wav/mp3 recorder.

    Being a Windows Laptop user, I must say that for capturing ideas, an iPod Touch, even with its toyish keyboard, is better than a laptop without a decent keyboard. And you can play chords with up to 5 notes simultanneously – thanks to multi-touch. Same applies to the MPC drum pads of BeatMaker.

    Yes, iTunes is p.i.t.a., but IMHO what you get is worth the pain 😉

    An iPad may be even more fun at home, but you cannot carry it around in your shirt pocket, and at home my Windows laptop does its job very well.

    Final word: Don't judge before you've really tried it yourself.

    Have fun with whatever instrument or gadget serves you best!

  35. Seems like you've got a reasonable view and are making the most of your iPod touch.

    Too many people seem to either love or hate anything Apple. Maybe more should try to see the pros and cons of Apple's approach.

    I love my iPhone and iPad and think the whole App Store politics story is completely overblown. I do with that they'd offer a $500 mac mini that was more open to upgrades and I wish they'd put some thought into adding better audio and midi support to iOS.

  36. Seems like you've got a reasonable view and are making the most of your iPod touch.

    Too many people seem to either love or hate anything Apple. Maybe more should try to see the pros and cons of Apple's approach.

    I love my iPhone and iPad and think the whole App Store politics story is completely overblown. I do wish that they'd offer a $500 mac mini that was more open to upgrades and I wish they'd put some thought into adding better audio and midi support to iOS.

  37. Thanks for your comment. Yep, I'm always out for the best compromise, and yes, while there's virtually no MIDI support today and audio recording is usually mono-only (except with the BlueMikey Microphone), the iTouch has fully replaced my Yamaha QY22 Music Sequencer that I've used for many, many years.
    With several apps available that can export to MIDI files (Xewton, BeatMaker, iSequence …), I don't really know what use I had for a MIDI cable anyway.
    Funnily, I thought about getting a Mac Mini too, but every time I compare it with a $400 Laptop I find that the Laptop has similar performance but a keyboard and a colour TFT screen and a battery so when power fails my work won't just be gone. +3 for the (Windows) Laptop, so to say.
    Audio performance is a bit better on the Mac Mini, but I can live with a Windows system after some tweaking for good audio performance.

  38. Also, people in the 60s 70s 80 etc didn’t have any of that stuff and there still going, have wrote the best songs ever, and are the best musicians.

  39. The main point of arguing for or against the iPhone is to give us all a break from arguing the relative merits of analogue and digital ;p

  40. I don't need an iphone, because: 1. I'm a drummer 😉 2. I like (real) knobs. 3. It won't get me drunk. and 4. I can't smoke it. (besides, there's no lighter in/on it<<

  41. I am not trying to bash apple but with my generation I see almost a cult following of apple products. While they may be innovative and unique, the apple marketing technique basically works upon the principle of selling you something that does something that normal people would already associate with a device. Stupid things like saying “Our apple mac-books have the ability to connect wirelessly to the internet!” is like saying that “This bottled water is cool and refreshing when you drink it!” and sadly I see people fall for this simple marketing ploy far to easily. This has probably been my biggest reason why I have avoided apple products; that and the need for apple to make everything proprietary for their own specific products.

    One example (Using this example when I trying to send a video to my teacher for my ASL class, with my partner who was using a mac; which we attempted to try different file formats on his macbook)—-> In order to get a video to run on quicktime on a Macintosh that you have transferred from your PC, you have to first go through various hoops and hurdles- first trying to find out what incredibly small amount of files are compatible with the apple software, then after you think you have found one file type that works, converting it (then after testing it on quicktime on my PC) you send it to the mac, and what do you get? “File format unplayable, format not recognized”. After I got home I used the mac website and I tried maybe four different formats that were listed as being compatible with quicktime, and when they failed to work on the Mac’s quicktime I broke down and uploaded it to youtube, sending the teacher the link afterwards.

    PC’s has seemed to always strive for the more universal approach- PC’s have programs designed to use both windows based audio and video formats to -Yes- even apple’s proprietary audio formats; and have far more software options thanks to people creating opens source software which is available for users, so they are able to utilize and enhance whatever they are doing, usually for free AND with multiple software options to choose from. (I guess while apple has apps, PC’s have open source, and software generally is based to perform some kind of function, making software productive as opposed to apps, which the general concept of apps are for entertainment, for the time being).

    THAT all being said, I am a jazz pianist, and the main thing that the iPhone has that I am very interested in is the iRealBook app, which is a (rather large) collection/compilation of jazz standards all consolidated on to a single app, with the ability to transpose the chords to any key you want, and the ability to add chord changes to the charts as you please. This is so incredibly useful for a gigin’ musician, when either you don’t know a song or a someone in the band might not know the changes; you can quickly pull up the chart and show either yourself or the other musician the chords.

    Anyways there’s my two cents on the matter.

  42. Use an imobile device such as an ipod touch…instead of the iphone and you can skip the phone contract…then it becomes obviously clear that with apps like beatmaker2, nanostudio, musicstudio, loopty, and many many others…you can buy under 100 dollars worth of apps, and a 230 dollar ipod…and have an arsenal, for the price of a used crappy drum machine…that will require eqs, mixers, cabling, etc…if not for direct to post production the imobile device does serve as a creative writing tool in many instances where a boring train ride would have been the offering.

    Windows sucks for making music period…started there, never going back to that turd….and windows mobile platform has shit for latency and shit for apps.

    If you want to know why folks use windows over mac..its the cost of the platform, but not figuring in the upgrade to better hardware for quality purposes and latency issues? Also not counting for loss in cpu for antivirus and antispam and ten other things running in the background always…shitty incompatibility issues (constantly abound) and pirated software…

    I use the ipad2 for music and after auria, have just decided…to dump the whole laptop desktop thing period. Of course this is a decision i am invested in solely by my own opinion and experiences…

    Maybe just use what you have access to and make music…most of all have fun.

  43. haha. Only eloctronic. What about jazz and metal players or both? We need guitars that perfect strings, action, tone, magnetics, amp, picks, care, pedals, cases… And other guitars etc.
    If you are not a class. guitar player. You’ll buy acoustic, electric,archtop,semi-hollow. wah pedal, loop pedal this pedal that amp….. And The perfect guitar is around 5k to 10k in dollars. latest iphone is 1k. Why waste a lot of money in a simple tool? 1k is an amp, and an amp goes like 60 years (if not tube) or a guitar goes lifetime. Well iphone or other craps go like 2-3 years. Cant change the battery etc. Nokia or samsung the real choice of the musicians. We are poor and we try 2 save 2 better. While rich rockers only need an amp an guitar. Most of them dont even know bouts pedals. Lol..

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