Buy Versus Subscribe
Waves dropped a bombshell. You could say producer Dave Clarke didn’t subscribe to its way of thinking.
Opinion: Dave Clarke
Let’s talk about subscriptions versus ‘buy to own’ software. When I own software I will always financially support a company if they require a modest payment. These developers provide us with great tools that help us create. Let’s not forget that it’s not cheap to produce and support great software: the platform is always moving from new operating systems with new ways of authorising the software, from 32-bit to 64-bit, from 2k to 4k monitors and beyond and, of course, new chipsets (for example, Apple’s move from Intel to M chips). This is a constantly moving area that needs re-investment to help these companies re-imagine their software or stay current. So, yes, I will gladly sign up and pay money if required to update, that is the part of being an audio professional.
I will also choose (in some cases) to subscribe to software. One of my other passions is photography and I find Adobe’s subscription plan very workable (it crosses on to mobile devices for the same monthly money), so I am not allergic to a subscription, and will consider it for audio software products in the future, but to have it foisted upon me really gets my goat.
Waves very nearly lost me as a customer before it backflipped on its subscription-only announcement. And I know I’m not the only one.
GEN BUY V GEN RENT
An admission: I’m from an older generation that remembers and/or uses the hardware that Waves and others are emulating with its plug-ins — so owning the software equivalent makes instinctive sense to me.
The younger, ‘Gen Rent’? They don’t know any different. So I acknowledge that software subscriptions will be the norm… it’s just a matter of time.
But I also happen to be part of the generation that put Waves on the map and I think we deserve to be afforded the courtesy of something like a two-year period of transitional grace. Instead, Waves very nearly detonated a big chunk of its brand loyalty with an instant switch to a different generation of customer.
I GET IT
I understand the proposition from Waves’ point of view: the price is indeed very similar to the old WUP (Waves Update Plan) and ensures a regular and fresh stream of revenue to help with Waves’ viability and R&D, but the implementation was either high-handed or desperate, and perhaps it’s the latter, considering the interminable deluge of Waves’ ‘Best Sale Ever’ emails on a (seemingly) daily basis for so many years.
A couple of observations: The subscription model superficially looks democratic. But who’s to say subscriptions won’t be subject to huge discounting at the next Black Friday sale?
What’s more, I’m not convinced about the the reliability of the subscription model given the flakiness of the Waves authorising system. Previously, it was convoluted but binary (it either worked or didn’t, then after a retry it mostly did) but then the locked-off reliability without an internet connection meant you could count on it working thereafter. The performance of the Waves Update Centre has improved but it still doesn’t auth everything properly without a few tries. Meanwhile, I suspect the various updates to Waves Update Centre weren’t about usability and better implementation but inserting annoying adverts back in our face (if, like me, you’ve unsubscribed to the marketing emails).
Like a lot of people, I’m happy that Waves did an about-face. As a long-time Waves customer, I was aghast that the ‘perpetual’ license I had paid for could just be snatched away. Next time give us a choice to opt in and give up the license, and then also give us two systems to run concurrently for a period. This, I believe is the least we can reasonably expect.
Other developers take note.
Dave Clarke: daveclarke.com
This is an opinion piece. The views of the writer aren’t necessarily shared by the publisher.