Gatekeeping your best distribution channel: Music Software Piracy

10 Dec

I ran across an interesting Reddit post today:

“I sometimes wonder if the reason Reason is getting less popular is because they piracy-protected it so well. I mean, FL is probably partially popular because 90% of its users can just torrent it. They’ve protected it so well that kids can’t download a recent version, therefore are not easily going to pick up on it, not create tutorials, not tell their friends etcetera. Not sure about this theory, just wondering. Wondering what you guys think.”

Why is this interesting? The Reddit poster poses an interesting theory where Propellerhead Software, the developer of Reason has stunted the proliferation of Reason as viable music production tool due to its Draconian licensing practices. This posture seems reasonable if you consider a few things. Not all software users are participating members of the profit driven licensing model. Many FREE tutorial and instructional videos available on YouTube are created by younger users without access to the funds or means to legally purchase (license) software and plugins. The best informational resources may be developed and distributed by these non-paying users.

The idea here is that the non paying, pirating users of Reason would make Propellerhead’s most effective street team and increase the software’s popularity and user base. Of course, this idea isn’t limited to just Propellerhead Software but extends to many types of developers and non-software distribution models (think about your own music). It’s a fact that many of us beatmakers and producers start out using pirated software and eventually purchase it at some point during our careers. This is becoming easier, more affordable, and enticing with subscription based software and plugin licensing.

What are your thoughts? Do you think piracy serves a greater marketing purpose? Are some developers too restrictive and draconian with their licensing?

2 Responses to “Gatekeeping your best distribution channel: Music Software Piracy”

  1. D.F. Sopranoe December 28, 2016 at 5:49 pm #

    As you so accurately stated I think most of us that have been around for a while started with pirated software. As we matured, purchasing software became more of a viable option. Pirated software does serve its purpose somewhat in marketing, but there is still a great lost to the developers and distributors of the product. I think longer trial periods and bigger discounts for students of all types might help assist in what pirated software has done. Reason is so unique because of its proprietary instruments (Rack Extensions) which are not like VST that everybody and there momma has downloaded of the torrent sites. I will say VST were tad better in quality for a while, but Reason developers have stepped their game up tremendously, and if NI ever release Komplete in the Rack format its game over. My final thought is kids should gather whatever by whatever means possible t to fuel their creativity, But the first option should be saving up enough pennies to get the software of your choice so you can enjoy the benefits of registered software.

  2. Tactilian April 25, 2017 at 7:54 pm #

    Being recently quite active/social with the lo-fi hip hop community, which mostly consists of young beatmakers (some as young as 13 years old!), the option of a quick torrent download makes a bit of sense, seeing as they are just beginning their musical lives and are usually not in a position to afford these kinds of programs by any means. The hope would be that at some point they would eventually grow up and have the opportunity to use some expendable income on a legit purchase, but it’s hard to tell how many actually do this. But as grim as that could seem for a DAW/software company, there are some folks out there who have been able to let this kind of situation happen while still making a profit. I just heard from a fellow producer about the company who makes WinRAR, which many people (including myself) use all the time for zips and whatnot. Having it for many years already, I was always curious as to when this “free trial” the program continues to mention whenever one pops it up would eventually end. It won’t. Like, ever. According to them, they are fine with people using it for free as a sort of “Personal” license for as long as they want, while they make more than enough profit back with their professional “Business” licenses on offer. I’m not too sure how the more music-sided software companies can utilize this method, but it’s a proven and possible alternative to cracking down so hard on piracy that it starts to turn people off from purchasing/using their product at all. I myself have been a good boy since purchasing Ableton Live back when version 7 came out, but I miss admit the people running the company could be much better to their long-term customers with the upgrade discounts. Granted, its nice they have a discount at all, but I know I’m not the only one who thinks it’s still a bit much considering I had spent so much upon the initial purchase. Can’t complain too much though; it is an amazing piece of software.

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