Thanks to new, easy-to-use music-software programs, there is a more level playing field for emerging artists.

Apple Computer's GarageBand, and other software such as Sony's ACID and DigiDesign's Pro Tools have changed everything about the process of making music, according to a Knight Ridder report.

These software programs "let professional musicians write and record music whenever and wherever the muse strikes: on the tour bus, in the dressing room or even on the plane," states the report.

Kylee Swenson of the San Francisco-based pop group Loquat said: "Now I'm no longer just limited to, say, my guitar or my voice. I have so many sounds at my disposal. All these things come flying out from all directions. It's so much quicker. It's more inspiring."

Too Much Joy

Tim Quirk, member of the punk band Too Much Joy uses a digital audio workstation and Digidesign's Pro Tools software to create music. He told Knight Ridder: "Recording with Pro Tools made me feel more like a 14-year-old punk rocker than I have in years. There are no rules and no restrictions. Even if you wanted to do things before, you were physically limited in how much you could pull off."

Now, he says, "If you can think of something, you can pull it off."

According to the report, digital technology has changed everything about the process of making music, "from the way artists compose and record their songs to the way these works are distributed".

Quirk releases new recordings through his own Web site, the Susquehanna Hat Co. He said: "This is kind of sad and kind of beautiful: I'm making more money now, making music in my spare time, than I ever did as a full-time professional Warner Bros. recording artist. And, I have the benefit of owning everything I do."