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Thread January 10, 2015 editorial: comments

  • 15 replies
  • 12 participants
Topic January 10, 2015 editorial: comments

Will We Soon Be Renting Our Music Software?

A number of years ago, I heard several tech futurists predict that software ownership would eventually be replaced by a rental model. What's more, they said, software applications wouldn’t be stored locally on computers at all, people would access them online through browsers. Although we're not at that point yet, the advent of “the cloud” has massively altered the way software is distributed, and more changes are already occurring.

Buying software used to entail getting a physical, boxed product containing a disk (or disks) with the application on it, but today, most purchases are delivered via download. And now we’re moving to the next phase, software offered by subscription. Such giants as Adobe and Microsoft have changed over to the subscription model, and we’re inching closer to it in the music software realm, as well.

Here are some examples: Software developer, Audionamix — the maker of ADX TRAX and ADX TRACKS PRO applications for separating the vocal and instrument portions of a stereo mix — now offers customers the choice of a traditional software purchase or a monthly subscription.

Avid, the maker of Pro Tools, recently announced its “support plan” for Pro Tools 11. For $199 annually, in addition to the cost of the software itself, users will get extra benefits such as regular feature upgrades, access to more instruments and processor plug-ins, and unlimited support. Those who don’t join the plan won’t have access to, or will have to pay a la carte for these features and benefits. While this isn’t technically a subscription model, it’s close.

Waves has had the “Waves Update Plan” in place for a while now. It entails paying an annual fee, based on how many plug-ins you own, and in return you receive the latest versions of Waves’ software, and you get extra plug-ins along the way.

I should note that the Avid and Waves support plans aren’t technically subscriptions. In a pure subscription model, your monthly payments renew your license, and if you stopped paying, your access to the software would be turned off.

Right now we’re just seeing nibbles around the edges of the music software world, but if the software industry as a whole moves full bore into the subscription model, there’s little doubt that it will be adopted by many of the developers in the music space. 

Change is always difficult, and I must admit that I initially didn’t like the idea of renting my software. Although I still have some trepidations, my current experience with a software subscription has softened my view somewhat. I needed Adobe Photoshop for some of my work, and in order to get a current version, I had no choice but to use Adobe’s subscription plan. Fortunately, the company offers a separate Photoshop/Lightroom subscription for $9.99 a month, so I’m not plunking down $49.95 monthly for the entire Creative Cloud Suite just to get one application. So far, I haven’t noticed much difference in the user experience, and the latest upgrades can be quickly accessed and installed through an icon on my menu bar.

So get ready, we’re likely to see more of this model creeping into the music software field in the near future, whether we like it or not.

Would you object if you had to get your music software via subscription? Let’s discuss it. 

Have a great week.

Mike Levine

U.S. Editor, Audiofanzine

There's pros and cons to this issue but as it looks that's where it's all headed. :oo:
I know things are heading this way but, I don't like it, with the prices they are asking. I know the software is outdated in 4 years but I don't see a subscription for $10 monthly for software that costs $120 or less to be cost efficient enough to intice me into a monthly fee. NOW, if they offered a rate that would even out the cost over 2-3 years I would be much more likely to do this. It seems that they would be willing to lower subscription rates because it would also eliminate "pirating" of the software.
But, software that costs $79-$100, offering a monthly rate of $10 for a subscription, is not very appealing to me. The same subscription at $3 monthly would probably sway me over as I wouldn't mind replacing the software every 2 years.
I don't mind downloading my purchases as I dont need a boxed CD. But I don't see myself doing subscriptions until the prices come down a bit.

Deb Erney




When I am forced to "rent" my DAW or other music recording softwares, is the day I quit recording and simply just play my instrument live more. I Find this trend offensive and capitalistically motivated. I will simply stop buying (uh, renting) software and only use the software that I already own. Period.......
Avids implementation of the paid subscription for previous Pro Tools 11 owners, is a slap in the face to their loyal customers. This will be the reason that many past users of Pro Tools will look at and ultimately switch DAWs. To state that all users who fail to keep up with the annual fee will go back to square one and will be forced to pay a $899 fee to get back in their good graces, is all the proof I need start my journey to a new DAW.:???:
With the recently announced Camel Audio "implosion" (where they no longer offer their software for sale and they recommend you download and back up anything you've already bought from them), what would happen to those "software renters" in a situation like that?

None of us knows if a company like Camel Audio is in trouble, so we will never know if the software we're "renting" may soon disappear. I'd rather buy, own and back up what I can now, thankyouverymuch!

If i had to rent software i whould grab every piece of hardware my man build and i bought and change my name in " Hardware Girl " buy a latex outfit and become

" The girl who fights the evil of software companies "

:mdr: :D: :mdr:

It's not about what you got to use ....    but how you use what you got...

[ Post last edited on 01/11/2015 at 00:47:43 ]

As with microsoft word 365 etc, the suspicion has got to be that businesses see this as a way of raising more revenue rather than providing a better customer experience
I have been suggesting this will happen for a while now. It even exists in many creative areas already. Look at the imposing cost of buying Photoshop vs monthly rental.
The key for us audio guys however, is that the complete solution depends on a lot of user-side hardware. For the DAW to work with a cloud subscription based model, they will have to come up with a client-side solution that allows us to integrate all our peripherals, names our AD-DA Converters(preferably the ones we already own, and at the very least, be able to support future versions of current AD-DA vendors), video monitors and control surfaces.
I think we'll see a lot of vendors work on cloud based music collaboration tools that will have limited feature sets. It will be embraced and it will produce music within the limitations of the solution - but it will take a very long time before it displaces the standalone DAW.

It will be interesting to see, as abruff notes earlier, how the solution providers will ultimately monetize their platform...? Embedded advertising? Cross-promotion with plugin vendors? Will it be like other social media sites that stipulate any content (music!) you create/post on their platform is their intellectual property? Scary thoughts, no?
This software model is nothing new. IBM didn't sell software on their mainframes, they rented it. It is all about making more profit for the software companies rather than providing a better service for the user although the companies will claim it is the latter rather than the former.

I don't use Pro Tools so fortunately I am not caught up in this. I write my own software or use Open Source which is free of the 'innovations'