Vice President worldwide marketing at Sony Creative Software
Sony see increasing take up of Daws and DSTs in consumer market – We found that our Daw – Acid – really opened up the door for remixing and mashups to the consumer marketplace, and there were many other products that then followed.
In 1998 it really opened up the floodgates to what a user could do with a program like that and with loops.
With children its really amazing to see how quickly they pick up the technology and how second nature it is to them to understand what the program can do, as against 10 years ago when you were introducing this to people who had not grown up with this.
We’ve tried consumer versions of all of our technology. I think it’s still very new to the average consumer but I think that they are starting to get it. We now have schools who are starting to adopt the technology and we are seeing electronic music products in the classrooms and we’re getting more and more requests for training from schools to use the technology, so it’s definitely starting to trickle to the mainstream.
We now have a free version called Acid Express which gives you 10 tracks to use and it’s surprising how many people we get in just to try out what the technology can do.
It’s amazing but it genuinely looks as though this is how people are going to be making music going forward, because this lets people take what is in their heads and get it into music without having to be able to play an instrument.
DST’s seen as essential to success of programs like Acid - We see DSTIs as a means of expanding the capability of programs like Acid.
The range is now incredible. For instance we work a lot with Native Instruments who make some very good hybrid plugins and one of the ones that they make is for a Hammond B4 organ. It’s a very heavy instrument that usually comes with a rotating speaker and it’s very difficult to move around, but they’ve recreated that in a software plugin.
We don’t make plugins you’re better off asking about plugins to someone like Native Instruments. Steinberg has some very good ones and Cakewalk are another company that springs to mind.
What all this now means is that instead of going out there and finding a session player that can lay down a Hammond B4 lick for you in the studio that you just go out there and find it on the web.
Sony see it’s core business as providing a platform for music making plugins are a separate business – We make Acid – in the past we have developed plugins but it’s not as lucrative for us to be just in the plug in business.
We want to be the host application because many other people will go out and develop plugin technology that will work inside of your technology. We do make money on all of the sample library that we sell – so we do have a line of revenue that is based on content.
We developed Acid so that it works with VST technology so if you want to go out and buy VST plugins you are able to use them inside of our Acid program – we make the car someone else makes the mats. We used to sell plugins for $99 or $149 but then we decided that we wanted to sell Acid for $499. We felt we wanted to be the operating system and let other people go out and make the plugins.
We provide our own music library so we’ve got over 100 different tracks of pre-recorded loops that you can use. There are people that we have taken into the studio and we’ve recorded their music, so we’ve got into the business of providing content but we’re not in the business of providing plug-in technology.
For Sony the biggest irritation with plugins is compatibility because it’s a consumer issue -The biggest issues that we find are compatibility issues with plugins – that is where the pain comes. If you are using a plugin then it always a good idea to get in contact with the manufacturer because not every plugin out there is guaranteed to work in every host application, we do try to test them because we want them to be compatible.
The only element that you have to beware of is does it work with my PC DAW, does it work with my Mac – is it compatible with my software. These are the sort of questions that need to be asked but the simplicity of being able to access them is a tremendous benefit over finding the session player with the instrument at the right time. There’s a trade off between ok I’ve got to make a list of programs I need and now I need to make sure that the computer is specified in the proper way to be able to handle that.
You might think it’s unfair but we get in trouble if people can’t open there plugins they blame us if the host operating system is not compatible and not the person in a shack in Siberia who made it.
A huge latent market catering to plugins and information about them is now developing - The organisations that tend to run the websites for the plugin industry are people like SCV in London and a lot of the guitar stores in the US, then there are the websites for the manufacturers like Steinberg and Native Instruments there you’ll find lists of plugins.
Then there are other places for instances there’s a lab called Vienna Symphonic Library (http://vsl.co.at/en/65/71/84/10.vsl) they have sampled an amazing number of orchestral sounds which are played through their product – the Vienna Ensemble.
There are lots of resources for the public that are in the marketplace. In the UK there’s a great one called Silent Soundz, in the US there’s one called Electronic Musician and another called Keyboard Player and Audio Media, Computer Music is another one in Europe that’s produced by Future Publishing in Bath, England, who produce a lot of titles in this area and then there are 1,000s of titles that are available on the web.
We have our own site called www.acidplanet.com which is a very good resource and we have several 100,000 people on our site who are very active.
In the future Sony see development of a collaborative market that could involve shared licence use –
In the future I think that what is going to end up happening is that there are going to be a lot of applications where online collaboration is the norm. I think that people will use virtual recording studios and that they will interface using the systems on their home PCs, that will call for a lot of work though because people are going to have to find ways around web-latency because they will have to be able to sync in real-time.
I could see a move towards technology being licensed on a server – so it would be a version that works on a network that everyone has access to – the pricing structure would be different but those types of models are certainly not that far away.
Jonas Norberg, CEO Tonium.
Jonas has an MSc in engineering from the Royal Institute of Technology and has worked as professional DJ and event organizer.
Many companies are targeting what they think is an emerging market for music creation We’re focussing on the new generation that wants to interact with their music and be creative with it.
People that are tired of just listening to music passively and instead want to creatively engage with what they love.
We’re trying to give them tools for that.
They are aiming at sound mixing as the basis for this
We are focussing on DJ-ing. DJ-ing is very rewarding in that you can be creative with music and do something you really like quite easily. If you continue with it then it becomes more and more advanced all of the time and eventually you are almost producing music.
Because of that you can create something completely new with the music. We think it’s a consumer market and because of that we have come up with a consumer product.
To that end they have developed a hand-held device for music mixing
It’s a hand held product that’s a bit like an I-Pod but we have effects that you can add.
We do DJ tools really – our goal is to make it possible for everyone to DJ, not because we think that’s what people should do but because its an easy goal for people.
We think it’s something that anyone can do.
Because of that we’ve tried to make it as easy as possible. You upload your I-Tunes to our Pacemaker and then you mix them using our drag and drop graphical interface and then you can export them to your PC or your Mac – fine tune them and then publish them onto our Pacemaker website.
We’ve set it up so that the software is free to download from our site.
They see possibilities in this area for mobile phones but not until the new user interfaces come onto the market which is likely to be in the next two years
I think that this is something that would be very difficult to do on a mobile phone because you would need some application specific software although if you could get a mobile phone interface like the touch screen on the I-Phone then it would be possible.
The only issue with it is that Pacemaker is about working offline but it is possible that you could do something on the mobile and we are talking to some of the largest handphone manufacturers and they are very keen for us to make part of our technology available on a mobile phone.