What does it mean for professional metal music performance and production to move entirely remotely online? A practice-based analysis of approaches, processes and workflow

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


The Covid-19 pandemic has become a catalyst affecting many areas of human life, with social problems brought to the fore, subsequently accelerating the transformation of established practices. One such area is professional record production. Although remote collaboration is well established, particularly with session musicians (Herbst & Albrecht, 2018) and mixing/mastering engineers (Thorley, 2019), globally imposed lockdowns have suddenly forced music production to move entirely online and adopt asynchronous and synchronous methods of remote collaboration (Ferguson, 2015; Anthony, 2017; Koszolko, 2017; Campelo, 2020). Arguably, such collaboration is relatively easy to accomplish in popular music genres such as EDM and hip-hop that rely on sampling, synthesis and sequencing (Brett, 2019; Shelvock, 2020), but less so in genres based on a recording paradigm, for example, metal (Mynett, 2017).

Shaped by numerous constraints imposed by Covid-19, this autographic research (Chang, 2008) investigates the process of a professional metal music production from songwriting to final mastering. Based on an original project song, whose creation process is the focus of this presentation, the context is a funded research project exploring how heaviness is manipulated in metal production. In order to provide a cohesive result whilst optimising the song’s impact, skilful songwriting/arrangement, tightly synchronised ensemble performances, and effective engineering had to be aligned (Mynett, 2017), requiring remote planning and execution at every stage of the production.

The presentation compares a pre-Covid metal production with selected elements of a Covid-19 remote collaboration. It determines 1) which elements of a metal production can be remotely engaged in an effective manner, enabling aspects of a budget to be better invested elsewhere, and 2) which elements are negatively affected by forced remote collaboration. Whilst considering metal’s central musical quality of heaviness, the presentation reflects on how a genre marked by precarious production budgets is impacted by remote collaboration.
Period2 Sep 2022
Event titleChallenge and Change in Popular Music: The 2022 IASPM-UK/Ireland Branch Conference
Event typeConference
LocationLiverpool, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational