On the Road with Linkin Park

Pro Tools 8 and M-Audio Keep the Creativity Alive No Matter Where They Travel.

Linkin Park has never been a band that’s easily pigeonholed. The band’s innovative mélange of musical styles has garnered them a fan base that spans hip hop, metal, rock and pop, and their cutting-edge, interactive communication with those fans has resulted in a loyal following few other groups can match.

As Linkin Park founder Mike Shinoda explains, the band recognized early on the power of the Internet and digital technologies in establishing and maintaining a close relationship with their fans. “Having a strong, direct communication with our fans has always been very important to us, and we always considered our website to be an integral part of that communication,” he says. “When we were first starting out, we actually tweaked our band name in order to secure the website. The name LincolnPark.com was taken, so we changed the spelling.”

For Shinoda, Pro Tools has also long been a part of Linkin Park’s creative process. “Most of the songs on our first album were written on my Pro Tools setup, and we still use our Pro Tools rigs to demo ideas,” he says. “Demos generally begin on one of our Pro Tools setups, usually as a basic sketch with a scat vocal. Then we meet once a week to listen and vote on the songs. The good ideas can be quickly bumped over to our communal Pro Tools|HD system, where we develop them further. It’s a very streamlined, organized system, and because we generally have so much music, that’s exactly what we need to keep track of what we’re working on.”

 
 Pro Tools 8 is amazing — you can just make a song so quickly.
- Mike Shinoda, Artist, Linkin Park

With the band’s perpetually busy touring schedule, the writing process needs to be as portable as it is streamlined. Overseas, the band usually carries their own laptop-based Pro Tools M-Powered rig, complete with assorted M-Audio interfaces. But on tours like Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution summer tour, Mike often opts to upgrade, equipping a bus with a studio-grade Pro Tools|HD system. Shinoda gives the new Pro Tools 8 upgrade high marks, particularly for its enhanced MIDI functionality. “The virtual instruments and the MIDI implementation within Pro Tools 8 are great for working out arrangements, particularly on the road,” he says. “The new MIDI functionality is awesome for tweaking beats and grooves, and the AIR plug-ins sound great.”

The ability to carry a professional-grade system on the road is a key element of the band’s business model, says Shinoda. “I maintain a pretty sizable plug-ins library, so I can write and mix on the road and not have to drag a bunch of hardware with me.

With my portable setup, I’m able to take a song from demo to mix and post it online from pretty much anywhere.”

With the changing face of today’s music business, that degree of immediacy is indispensable, Shinoda observes. “Our band’s online culture is an inseparable part of who we are, and we work hard to maintain that. I make it a point to post online every day on www.mikeshinoda.com or www.linkinpark.com, whether it’s updates on our writing and recording process, photos, videos, or tips to fans on how to how to approach making and promoting their own music. There are so many different ways of presenting your music online, so many ways of being active and communicating online, the question isn’t ‘should you do it?’ but rather ‘how should you do it?’”