To some degree I’m a child of the eighties as most of my earlier music production and stage presence happened in this time period.
It is of course natural to reflect that things were much better at that time. We had the first MIDI-controller synthesizers and the field was wide-open for any kind of experimentation. The New Wave movement in England produced Simple Minds, Ultravox and similar bands with a new style. And yes, we had plenty of hair.
Well, to be frank things were neither that utopian. Synths cost a fortune. Today by getting Logic Pro (or Logic Express) you get thousand-times more synthesizer options than long time ago. Not to speak of really having the chance to do the whole production in your home studio rather than using a Fostex-4 track as the scratch pad and moving it to an expensive 16-track analog studio for final production.
To release music you had to press singles or maybe an album; that itself was an investment. And 7″ 45RPM singles don’t exactly sound that nice.
To get any kind of decent media attention you had to work via a label that had the connections and money for decent PR. No Internet and web sites, exactly.
If you wanted to play a cover and learn the chord structures you were sitting by a tape player and moving the song back and forth to sort things out, rather than typing a string into Google and get the full tablature from N different sites. Not to speak of all the YouTube videos showing any kind of technique, or AudioTuts.com and similar sites that have tons of tutorials, rather than sitting long nights in the studio trying to figure out how to do things. And no forums, you had friends you might ask for advice, provided they knew something.
Sometimes I feel that this age makes it too easy to do music — one reason why fewer professional musicians and producers bubble up as it it no longer an arcane art known by the few. Then again we live in the age of empowering all consumers with media production.