The music business today isn’t what it used to be in the 50s and 60s. In those days there were two kinds of performers. The singers with smooth velvety voices like Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald or Frank Sinatra to name a few. On the other side of the vinyl record lables were the Motown singers like the Shirelles and the Marveletts, or the early folk singers such as Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie, who’s talent was often raw. Many of these performers sang off pitch and had unpolished voices. These were, after all, the voice of the people. They were right out of the crowd folks who stood out in an industry that was just getting started. Many of these singers didn’t have the training available to singers today and the general audiences were ok with that.
Today, technology in studio and in live production is very advanced and can make a huge difference in what the audience hears. For example, if a singer goes off pitch the production team can send their voice through a pitch correcting device, autotune, and the audience is oblivious to the poor pitch issues of the performer. Just do a search on youtube and you’ll find plenty of videos of pros getting caught with bad technique. If the audience knew the truth it might not change the popularity of the performer but it would change how the audience listened.
On the other hand there are some performers that should use autotune to save their audience the agony of listening to their seriously pitchy performances. Some people have no idea they are off pitch and would benefit greatly from singing lessons.
I believe technology like autotune can be fun when used as the special effect it was designed for. It’s also quite acceptable when used in the recording studio to sweeten the production if pitch is an issue but too many singers rely on the technology to correct their bad technique.
It’s important for the singer to have taken the time to study pitch control through ear and vocal training. For that reason I work diligently with my clients to help them with pitch accuracy. Then when they hit the studio or get in front of an audience they will have confidence their voice will be right on target and their audience will hear the naturally tuned voice they expected to hear instead of an electronic representation.