Apple’s latest GarageBand 08 is nothing if not pretty. It remains a fun way for Mac users to get their feet wet in music making, and hopefully, simple as it is, something like Magic GarageBand will include users to brave the GarageBand icon that comes factory-installed on their Macs.

But what about serious music making? There are still reasons to keep the latest GarageBand around. A streamlined interface makes applying effects much easier than before. Multi-take recording could make this version ideal as a sketchpad for recording ideas, even if you do the rest of your work in another tool. And finally, you can print notation.

Here’s a visual tour of the new software (click the thumbnails to open an interactive gallery):

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So, what about serious “pro” users? (I never liked the term “pro” in that I think it vastly oversimplifies the market, but you get the idea.) A Wikipedia article has been compiling examples of celebrity users, at least, which tend to fit in basic categories:

  • Loop users: This is probably the worst possible way to be recognized using GarageBand — having someone hear a loop they know comes with the program. Examples: the movie Constantine, and the fifth season of 24.
  • GarageBand for demos: Here’s a better way to use GarageBand — as a quick and dirty demo / sketch maker. Artists in this category: Courtney Love, Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit, Panic! At The Disco.
  • GarageBand for fan remixes: Erasure and Nine Inch Nails have both let fans remix tunes with GarageBand. Interestingly, there have been more “fan remix” projects in Acid and Pro Tools, among others. Ableton Live would still be my choice for fan remixing, personally, but mostly we’ll have to see how this trend pans out.

I expect there are many more — I see Mac hardware almost every time I’m hanging around big-name musicians — though I also know many use other tools, like Live and Reason. GarageBand has perhaps gotten extra hype because it comes from Apple and it’s free. But it does have its uses: there are some nice instruments and effects there, and it works well as a linear sketchpad along other tools (including Logic, via Logic export).

Do you use GarageBand? Or did you dump the multi-gig GarageBand install to save hard drive space and leave you to focus on other tools?