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is music software a growing or shrinking business

DSP, Plug-in and Host development discussion.

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kuniklo
KVRAF
 
2930 posts since 28 Jan, 2004, from Nha Trang, Vietnam

Postby kuniklo; Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:14 pm is music software a growing or shrinking business

It's hard to avoid stories about the death of the music business. Everywhere I turn I find another story about shrinking sales and streaming services eating up artist & label revenues. So I have to wonder, is this having ripple effects in the music software business? Are people spending less money on music software now? Or has music software always been something that mostly sold to ambitious amateurs?

It sure seems like there are a lot of very mature products out there now and that price points are steadily heading down. I can get Komplete for ~$500 now and capable sequencers like Tracktion or Reaper are well under $100. Most hosts now ship with an increasingly complete array of instruments and effects too.

It seems like a lot of music software companies are dabbling in hardware now. Is this just for fun or is it because the traditional music software market is shrinking and/or saturated?
PurpleSunray
KVRist
 
122 posts since 13 Mar, 2012

Postby PurpleSunray; Thu Jun 12, 2014 1:35 am Re: is music software a growing or shrinking business

IHMO that isn't something specific to music software, but workstation-software in general (mobile apps are taking over, nobody wants to spend moneh for PC software anymore)
It has always been a hard business for consumer software on PC/Mac - either you have a pricing policy near the lower limit to capture all that are willing to pay to for (also if they don't have 500$+ to spend on some software they just use for fun), or you don't target the "mass"-market but the pros only, with high-pricing policy. All in between have a hard time usually. The "out of fun" guys rather use an illegal copy than spending a lot of money and the pros go with the expensive stuff, because the companies put a lot of effort into marketing propaganda for building up / maintain the "pro" image to get those big-spender customers.

The music business has the additional problem of having a pretty small servable available market - just compare to other multimedia. How many ppl you know that do picture editing on photoshop ect. vs do audio editing/composing on a DAW. The photo-market is clearly outnumbering audio, but consumer photo apps are already considered as niche market, so consumer audio is a niche niche market.
Now put the enormous amount of software available on top (especially on VST/AU plugins market) and you see why nearly everyone on that bizz complains about ;)

It seems like a lot of music software companies are dabbling in hardware now. Is this just for fun or is it because the traditional music software market is shrinking and/or saturated?

Well there are two types of companies that are dabbling in hardware. First one actually takes a benefit from running on hardware, i.e. by putting DSP chips onto the board that make real-time low-latency processing soooo much easier than on a PC architecture.
Second one does it is mainly for the reason to remove the possibility of using an illegal copy.
You can't download a piece of hardware from your favorite warez shop, so they are safe regarding this - all they need to do is compiling their stuff for ARM instead of x86 and sell a small box that runs their code instead of selling it as windows installer package.
Last edited by PurpleSunray on Thu Jun 12, 2014 1:40 am, edited 2 times in total.
benwad
KVRer
 
8 posts since 19 Jun, 2013, from London, UK

Postby benwad; Thu Jun 12, 2014 1:36 am Re: is music software a growing or shrinking business

kuniklo wrote:It's hard to avoid stories about the death of the music business. Everywhere I turn I find another story about shrinking sales and streaming services eating up artist & label revenues. So I have to wonder, is this having ripple effects in the music software business? Are people spending less money on music software now? Or has music software always been something that mostly sold to ambitious amateurs?

It sure seems like there are a lot of very mature products out there now and that price points are steadily heading down. I can get Komplete for ~$500 now and capable sequencers like Tracktion or Reaper are well under $100. Most hosts now ship with an increasingly complete array of instruments and effects too.

It seems like a lot of music software companies are dabbling in hardware now. Is this just for fun or is it because the traditional music software market is shrinking and/or saturated?


I'd say the decrease in prices is due to a larger market - more and more people are getting into music production because these tools are becoming more mature and easy to use. Think about Logic 10 years ago - it was much more expensive, required an anti-piracy dongle, and was a lot less intuitive for someone only just dipping into DAWs. Apple changed this because so many people were pirating the software (despite the dongle) and they decided there was a much bigger market there and they could sell far more units at a lower price point, at the same time cementing Logic's position as one of the most well-known DAWs out there.

The increased bundling of plugins is probably because, as you said, these pieces of software are mature now and don't require much significant new development. EXS24 hasn't really changed in functionality since it was being sold for ~£300 but it's such a great piece of software that bundling it with Logic made it stand out. A new hobbyist producer won't shell out that kind of cash for a software sampler but it's inclusion in Logic would make them pick Logic over a competitor.

I don't know what this means for the high-end developers (Waves, NI etc) but I think for independent developers it'll do what Android and iOS have done for gaming - lower the price point, increase sales and possibly make us explore some alternative models for making money (hopefully not through social sharing or forced ad-watching though...)
kuniklo
KVRAF
 
2930 posts since 28 Jan, 2004, from Nha Trang, Vietnam

Postby kuniklo; Thu Jun 12, 2014 1:42 am Re: is music software a growing or shrinking business

Purple:

I think you make a good point that far fewer people are interesting in making music than they are in creating some kind of visual art. Creative photography in particular seems to be very popular. So music making tools will probably always serve a smaller audience in comparison.

Benwad:

I think your comparison to the iOS and Android gaming market is apt. This discourages me somewhat though because although I have seen this model produce some really imaginative games it seems to be dominated by throwaway, exploitative junk. There are some mobile music apps that I think are really well done (Gadget, Nanostudio, Nave) etc, they do seem to generally be much more limited than "pro" music apps. But maybe this is the future anyway? It does seem like the higher-end pro audio software market is pretty well covered at this point. I guess there is still room for improvement in analog emulation but even that is getting pretty good now.
benwad
KVRer
 
8 posts since 19 Jun, 2013, from London, UK

Postby benwad; Thu Jun 12, 2014 2:38 am Re: is music software a growing or shrinking business

kuniklo wrote:This discourages me somewhat though because although I have seen this model produce some really imaginative games it seems to be dominated by throwaway, exploitative junk.


Definitely, and I hope music apps don't go this way. However it would be harder to use these 'evil' monetisation methods with music apps because you can't win, therefore you can't pay-to-win. You pay for features, and hopefully once you've got these features (free or paid) you can use them as much as you want.

kuniklo wrote:There are some mobile music apps that I think are really well done (Gadget, Nanostudio, Nave) etc, they do seem to generally be much more limited than "pro" music apps. But maybe this is the future anyway? It does seem like the higher-end pro audio software market is pretty well covered at this point. I guess there is still room for improvement in analog emulation but even that is getting pretty good now.


It seems that way, part of me thinks that the 'pro' label is becoming a bit more Emperor's New Clothes nowadays, since as you say a lot of the expensive research has been done and any mid-range computer can run a high-end DAW reasonably well. I think there's still massive room for improvement in UX design though, Ableton Live blew me away when I first saw it!
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tehlord
KVRAF
 
6786 posts since 22 Sep, 2008, from Windsor. UK

Postby tehlord; Thu Jun 12, 2014 3:06 am Re: is music software a growing or shrinking business

I don't think you can compare a new product to something like Komplete as Komplete is a selection of mostly ancient (in terms of software) but useable core plugins.

As a whole the market for music software is at worst stable and at best growing due to the power of basic computing these days.

Whether there is a music market or not (and there is) there will always be a steady stream of new wannabee superstars looking for a relatively cheap way to make music.

As long as something is priced sensibly it'll always be affordable, and new stuff always has that 'want' factor.
kuniklo
KVRAF
 
2930 posts since 28 Jan, 2004, from Nha Trang, Vietnam

Postby kuniklo; Thu Jun 12, 2014 3:10 am Re: is music software a growing or shrinking business

benwad wrote:I think there's still massive room for improvement in UX design though, Ableton Live blew me away when I first saw it!


I tend to think so too. I think most music makers have more than enough sounds at their fingertips already but there's still a lot of room for new interface designs. I think Sonic Charge's Synplant VST is a good example of this.
kuniklo
KVRAF
 
2930 posts since 28 Jan, 2004, from Nha Trang, Vietnam

Postby kuniklo; Thu Jun 12, 2014 3:13 am Re: is music software a growing or shrinking business

tehlord wrote:As long as something is priced sensibly it'll always be affordable, and new stuff always has that 'want' factor.


There are a lot of people that view music making as more of a hobby and are happy to try out new things just for the sake of newness. I think I was more like that for the first several years I was trying to make music.

Anyway the stuff I'm coding right now is focused more on some new interface ideas and a more spontaneous approach to music making than most of the stuff that's out there now. I guess we'll see how much appetite musicians have for this.

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