Is the DAW market in a recess?

We all know that the financial recess climate in both Europe and the United States isn’t exactly very healthy at the time of writing. And I don’t think its illogical to assume that this will also somewhat affect the DAW market, a market which I think is by its own a very specific one to begin with.

There are several companies which attempt to expand their market by providing new and different products besides the ones they normally sell. Is this simply a search for extra income or a preparation for the worst ?

Sold your DAW, now what ?

In my previous post I commented on some of the software I use and compared them on provided value for money. It is something to keep in mind: while getting a lot of freebies is certainly a good thing for us customers, its not exactly what the developer is hoping for. After all; creating the freebies takes time and effort (and so money).

Over the past 3 years I’ve seen many companies expanding on their products. Either by providing totally unrelated and new things, right down to trimming down an existing product and selling it for less. For example…


Partner InstrumentsA few years ago Ableton introduced Partner Instruments, now simply referred to as the Ableton Library. The idea is simple: allowing 3rd parties to develop specific instruments for Ableton Live and provide them on the Ableton website itself. These instruments are usually sample based; build up in a rack using a Live sampling instrument which is combined with several effects.

What I personally liked best is that the 3rd parties which sell such Partner Instruments often also provide native sample libraries which are often sold for the same price.


Rack ExtensionWith the release of their Reason 6.5 product the Propellerheads also opened up a webshop in which they sell ‘Rack Extensions’. Basically 3rd party instruments or effects which can be used within Reason.

It’s no secret that developers would need to pay a fee in order to be allowed to sell their products here and that with each sale a certain percentage goes to the Propellerheads.

Although I think some of the provided products look very appealing I can’t help wonder if the price tag isn’t a bit too steep. After all; despite the quality you’re still buying extensions which you can only use in Reason, no where else.

Native Instruments

NI has done a lot in the past to try and boost sales, for starters by providing several discount periods.

But also by introducing products such as free usable players for their top products (Kore, Kontrol, Guitar Rig and Reaktor). These players also allow users to pick up individual instruments and use these within the right player. These players also got bundled into the Komplete Elements product, an introduction into Komplete (though I question the current value).

And then the obvious; one of their top products is the Maschine drum controller. And it didn’t take very long before Native Instruments released Maschine Mikro, you can see the picture above. In general the same pad controller, but with less buttons and control options.

Cycling ’74

Ever since the release of Max 6 the prices dropped quite heavily when compared to those of Max 5 (this was even a announced as a ‘feature’ which would provide ‘easier access’).

And beyond…

When looking at other companies you’ll notice a same trend going on. Take Steinberg… To my knowledge their flagship, Cubase, has known several versions for a while but recently their VST product collection has been expanded with cheaper products such as Padshop and Retrologue. Both selling for E 50,- which is quite different from stuff such as HALion Sonic which comes with a price tag around E 250,-.


With all the new cheaper products being provided I can’t help wonder if we’re currently seeing a recess going on in the DAW market. Even Native Instruments seems to expand on their sales, they currently have (or had) a ‘Summer sale’ where you could get upgrades for 50% off.

Of course this doesn’t have to be bad at all; more and better affordable goodies are good news. But that is also assuming that this is a deliberate marketing approach instead of a desperate search for more revenue.

I don’t know what it is, but I do think its something to keep in mind.