Mix Magazine has always been a marketing tool for the equipment industry. Rarely, the magazine actually prints an article that is of some use to a recording tech. Constantly, the pages are filled with pseudo-reviews that are barely more (or not more at all) than reprints of the product’s advertising literature. I’m not just picking on Mix, because that has been the industry standard since Recording Engineer/Producer died.
The Mix Studio Blog: article, “To Subscribe, Or Not To Subscribe” is a typical bullshit Mix faux-informational article promoting, while trying to pretend it isn’t, Pro Tools’ subscription policies. The author pads his pr work with broad statements like:
- "Subscriptions also make it possible for developers to give customers access to a broader range of products for the money than is feasible through the purchase model."
- "it takes a mental adjustment to stop thinking of your software as something you own, like your microphones or audio interface, and to consider it a service that you pay for. Some advocates of subscriptions respond to that concern by saying that you never really owned your software, anyway, you just licensed it."
- "Imagine if the company that makes your DAW goes belly up and your software ceases to function."
- "Actually, there's already one DAW developer that has a de facto subscription-only policy. Although it allows you to choose between a perpetual license or a subscription, those who choose the former also have to pony up for an ‘upgrade plan’ to get any updates (even maintenance ones)."
- "Outside of the music space, some pretty major software titles, such as Microsoft Word and the Adobe Creative Suite are available on a subscription-only basis (I'm writing this column on a subscription version of Word, because I don't have a choice), and it could be that it's just a matter of time before that's the case with a lot of music production software, as well."
In 2004, I wrote “Who Would That Inconvenience?” In that article I wrote, "Software manufacturers estimate that they've 'lost' somewhere between two hundred million to a billion-zillion dollars due to software bootlegging. According to their estimates, everyone on the planet would have purchased their products if they hadn't had access to illegal versions. Some of us would, surely, have bought those products several times if legal channels were the only way we could obtain software. Software companies have moved from vaporware to vapor markets. Their hallucinations of wealth and power have infected the magazines with whom they advertise, too." Like Mix Magazine. I also said, “That's a great business, if you can find it. Build a crappy, unreliable product and follow that up by charging your customers extra for ‘supporting’ your mistakes. That is the next step beyond planned obsolescence, assuming that your customers don't revolt.” You’d think, that revolution would have happened when Avid started charging $300/year for their “subscription model” or $2,500 for the HD software-only purchase plan that does not provide you support or even a good price on the next version Avid releases, just to piss off non-subscription software owner.
In “Gotta Have It” I wrote, “People did perfectly professional work on Sound Tools, the first 4-track version of Pro Tools, and the first serious multi-track version of Pro Tools (2.0) that produced the first Grammy winner for Digi. Marketing squirrels can yak about why we ‘need’ whatever crap they're pedaling, but the fact is we don't. We've had all the tools we need to record good audio, digitally, for at least a decade.” We need Avid, Apple, Steinberg, etc less today than in 2012 when I wrote that essay. Software updates may be the single best argument for disbelieving the whole supply and demand delusion. Software that is doing every job necessary perfectly well suddenly becomes unusable because a new, unproven, probably buggy version of that same piece of code is available? Nonsense.
Today, I’m doing fine with my 2007 MacBook Pro and 2006 Mac Pro tower machines, both running OS X 10.7.5. My Win7 machine is a 2007 Dell Latitude. All three machines run Pro Tools 10, the Dell a little more reliably than the MacBook Pro. Both Macs also run Logic 9, Mainstage, Soundtrack Pro, and Waveburner flawlessly. I have done dozens of video projects on the Mac Pro running Final Cut Studio. I’ve seen the newest versions of Pro Tools, Logic, and Final Cut and I can’t find a reason to “need” them. Logic X, in particular, is really cool looking and I can imagine using many of the new features, once I struggled through the learning curve on another weird, counter-intuitive Apple interface. But, as usual, Apple would require me to buy new machines, use the latest OS, along with the learning curves for those formidable obstacles. For what? Honestly, just thinking about the hassle of all that makes me want to quit messing with software at all.
As for that wimpy, irritating “I'm writing this column on a subscription version of Word, because I don't have a choice” whine, grow the fuck up and grow a pair while you are at it. “Don’t have a choice” my ass. You can do what ever you want as long as you are smart enough not to fall for the “I need to be state-of-the-art” fallacy. For example, I know quite a few highly functional people who are still doing fine running Office 2003, 2007, or 2010. In fact, I run 2003 on my Windows machines and 2011 on my MacBook Pro. If I “upgrade” to anything, it will be Office 2010 for the Win7 machines. Microsoft says Win7 and Office 2010 will be maintained at least until 2020. So, I don’t have any motivation to go newer until at least 2020.
There is no chance that I will ever become a software subscriber. Worst case, I’ll be using Open Source software for everything after my current equipment and OS becomes really obsolete. By then, Open Source software may very well be superior to the expensive brands. The newest version of Audacity is currently very competitive with the version of Pro Tools I am running and it is cross-platform friendly with many versions of OS X, Windows, and Linux and it uses practically every format of plug-in on all platforms. As for a subscription for Office, forgetaboutit. Never gonna happen. I already use Open Office almost as much as Office and it is also cross-platform compatible.