If you went back in time 30 years with your current gear, do you think you’d be a success?

You have access to all the gear you currently own (minus your current laptop/phone). It all works too. Could you be a star? Could you blow people’s minds?! Would you razzle dazzle em?!

I personally don’t think I’d be able to.

Edit: like you have all of your present knowledge and experience. Like that movie “Yesterday” where the Beatles didn’t exist except to that one guy and so he wrote his own “songs” and blew everyone away but they were really Beatles songs. I dunno, just spitballin here!

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You have that gear exclusively ? Can i hire a producer too ?


Depends. Am I 30 years ago me, or present me? If present me, I would destroy people’s minds. That, or they wouldn’t get it. Either way, they wouldn’t be ready for it.

But 30 years ago, no amount of gear would have made me a success. And I think that’s the bigger part of it, I think I could drop some brain-bending beats with whatever present day me could manage with OG gear.

Edit: not just me, but just about anyone here. Culture is a technology. We have refined a lot of taste and technique that '90s peeps were only starting to explore.


I don’t think gear has anything to do with it.

Raw talent, a LOT of woodshedding, and little luck is the only path to success.



Agreed. But those artists did select the equipment they used, and it was a part of their sound too. And many of them didn’t act alone either. Certainly the gear can help.

That picking my producer question was a cheat because thirty years looking back, you’d find the people just on the verge. Maybe you could pick band mates too.

We use what’s available to us.

To that end, gear has absolutely given birth to genres, but never success.

Eddie Van Halen was famously quoted as saying (about his legendary tone) that his sound was all in the fingers, and had nothing to do with whatever guitar or amp mods he was fabled to have done.

The Beatles’ career spanned several eras of recording technology, but it was the songs they wrote and how they delivered them that touched the masses.

And so forth…



what is success? in 1993 the internet was not yet an established tool to spread your gospel. you would have to work significantly harder even with your current gear. I don’t think song mode was going to make or break a career in music in any era.

You might be able to steal a few black eyed peas songs and make a quick buck like that guy in hot tub time machine though.

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Not musically successful. Though with my desktop computer and all the plugins I could be moderately novel as a mobile studio.

Now if I was sent 40-50 years back, I could make a minor splash as an early minimal wave pioneer. If I held on to one of my lps, I could make a couple hundred bucks today selling to a collector.

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Ninja Tune was established in 1990.


and who got famous off ninja tune? which success story are you referring to? what was the size of the audience? vs bandcamp. or soundcloud. or youtube.

it would have been a lot easier

Well it’s impossible so we’ll never know, but it would make a good premise for a story. Sort of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court sort of thing.


“Hello, I’m trying to reach a Mr. Reznor?”
"You’re not going to believe this, but I’ve got a crate full of experimental synthesizers that I know you’d love?
“I don’t have any money”
“no worries. I’ll take points”
“One more thing - do you have Tupac’s number? I have some important information for him”

Then I move to SF, get a job at a pre-internet tech company and do a lot of sailing until the dot-com boom kicks off. At that point, I make my way to Netscape, but sell everything before the crash. By that time royalties from the points on Downward Spiral are really kicking in, and I glide through the dot-com crash and into Web 2.0.


Would it have been though?

It seems to me that the lower the bar of entry, the more noise there is to rise above.


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i had an Emax II, DX-11, Alpha Juno (still have that one) and an MC-50. i’m 100% sure i could have done more with my current setup than that


in 1993 it took so long to download a jpeg let alone a song, it would be a stretch to use the internet to spread your music.

People were still learning how to make a smiley and ask “ASL” on america online. it was the dark ages.

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Yes, but that wasn’t the question.

The question was whether or not that would have led to greater success.


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I’d imagine with the modern day DSPs and embedded chips back 30 years you probably could get a Cyberdyne Systems startup going from reverse engineering those.

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that’s the spirit!

in 1993 you could use the internet to get grad students to come to your shows.

You won’t make much money that way, but you will establish your reputation and end up playing a lot of wild corporate raves in the late '90s on the outskirts of the SF Bay Area.

Edit: I’d probably try to meet Terence McKenna too.