A few months ago Avid announced a radical change to the way it was operating, with the addition of a subscription based approach alongside it’s existing ‘perpetual’ license approach, and NAMM this year saw the announcement of Pro Tools 12. Both announcements appear to have raised many questions from its most loyal customer base.
The New Avid Pro Tools Support Plan
First let’s talk about the new upgrade and support plans adopted by Avid. From last October, customers buying a new copy of Pro Tools 11, or upgrading their system to the latest Pro Tools 11, will have received a 1 year upgrade plan which guarantees access to all Pro Tools updates free of charge for the duration of the plan. This includes the brand new Pro Tools 12 released earlier this week. This looks a great opportunity to adopt the world’s industry-standard digital audio workstation used in almost every studio all over the world.
Why you should upgrade?
Well the reason is simple; Avid are encouraging people to upgrade to the latest software and are incentivising people to do so. For those on older systems, Avid’s offer is certainly compelling. Upgrade your software now for £156 and get Pro Tools 12 as well as all the updates until your support plan expires.
The adoption of the upgrade and support plan means Avid will be providing meaningful upgrades regularly, rather than wait for a major update which would make the whole process easy and pain-free.
What this New Support Plan means to you
As mentioned above, if you haven’t upgraded to the latest version of Pro Tools for a while, now is the time to do it! If you are envisaging upgrading here are your options:
If you are an existing Pro Tools user (9, 10, 11, M-Powered, MP9 or Pro Tools Express-Avid edition), you can upgrade to the latest version of the software and receive one year of upgrades and standard support.
For Pro Tools HD9, 10 or 11 users or users with the Complete Production Toolkit then you have access to the latest HD version of Pro Tools and all the features that are released while you are covered by the upgrade and ExpertPlus support plan.
In this option you are buying a new ‘perpetual’ software license and are covered by the upgrade and support plan for a year which is then renewable for £156/year.
The upgrade and support plans also gives you:
Standard Support: Unlimited Web support, one standard phone support per month as well as access to dedicated support forums as well as the option to access the Advance Exchange hardware coverage for a fee.
ExpertPlus Support: All the features of the Standard Support but with a Priority web support (4hours instead of 24hours), unlimited priority phone support, faster Advance Exchange Hardware Coverage, Heath Check and Onsite support.
Avid Pro Tools Subscription and Pro Tools First
In addition to the Avid Upgrade Plans, Avid has also launched a brand new subscription model which allows people to subscribe to Pro Tools for £22.80 a month or £238.80 a year (billed monthly at £19.90). This is a great way for users who are not always using Pro Tools to be flexible without having to pay for a perpetual licence if they do not require one.
Another announcement for musicians new to recording is the announcement of Pro Tools First which is a fully functioning version of Pro Tools with limited track count up to 16 audio tracks and over 20 effects, instruments and utility plug-ins. While this might not seem like much, this is the ideal platform for remote session musicians who are not existing Pro Tools users, to record their parts and share it with the producers and engineers via Cloud Collaboration without having to pay for additional software.
Cloud Collaboration and Avid Marketplace
With the new subscription plan Avid were quick to announce Pro Tools 12 to show what features they had prepared. One of the main upcoming features of Pro Tools 12 seems to be the ability to collaborate over the cloud seamlessly without needing to work around third parties. While this might at first not seem like much, the previews of Pro Tools 12 have shown that cloud collaboration is actually at the heart of Pro Tools 12 not simply as an add-on to the software but an integral part of the workflow it offers.
First and perhaps the most important feature is the ability to store a project in the cloud and recall it anywhere adding an additional layer of security and flexibility. You can start a project on your laptop save it on the cloud and recall it on your main computer in your studio for example. While this might not seem ground-breaking nowadays, the way it seems to be integrated in Pro Tools is perhaps the most advanced we’ve seen.
But that’s not all, Pro Tools 12 will make it possible to share tracks, sessions, with other musicians, producers and engineers throughout the world all in near real time allowing a truly collaborative workflow as if everyone was in the same studio. This is no small claim and Avid has really put a lot of effort into creating the most powerful collaborative platform we have yet seen.
For example tracks in the edit window can be shared to all the relevant people who will then be able to see only what is relevant to them, edit what’s been shared with them almost instantaneously. The benefits are obviously huge with people working directly on a session avoiding the need to import files and make sure they align properly. Everything is laid out directly in front of all the people involved and with permissions granted, things are also much secured from accidental changes. A Chat window with video is also available to allow easy, real time communication.
How Does it Work?
The implementation at first glance appears really impressive, well thought out and flexible. Simply connect to the market place and find a collaborator. Once you have found the collaborator, a message will be sent to this person who can accept or refuse the project. Once accepted, you can then select what you want to share with your collaborator, whether it is the whole session, simply certain tracks simply by clicking the collaboration button on all the desired tracks and this gets sent to the cloud for your chosen collaborators to access. Once a track is modified, an upload arrow button lights up indicating that changes can be synchronised with other collaborators. At this point changes appear almost immediately as meta data is only shared making the workflow incredibly fast. If audio is being added by the collaborator and sent back to you this will be made available but will require some download time.
As all this appears almost instantly the whole collaboration process becomes very efficient, in fact almost as efficient as having the collaborator in the studio with you.
With the creation of the Cloud collaboration, Avid are launching a new Avid Community which is a complete powerful social channel for professionals looking to collaborate with dedicated musicians, producers and engineers all over the world. Now Avid users will have a dedicated profile where they can showcase their work, and even monetise it to other Pro Tools users in the Community. Combining the possibilities of Library music, and professional social channels in a specialised and dedicated platform, the Avid Community could be a very powerful platform for creativity.
There remains many questions at this stage, chief among them are users going to embrace this new avenue? My guess is that surely they will, as it offers another level of visibility. However, as many more people join in, what provisions will Avid make to ensure the usability and the ability to find users? Will there be a tier system with additional paid services?
Clearly this new approach will suit some users, with some studios already offering session recordings over the internet, and the adoption of cloud collaboration will make it a lot easier and streamlined. However is that the kind of features Pro Tools users want? There are many things that Pro Tools users have been requesting for a long time that have not yet been implemented even though other DAWs have had it for years. Avid has confirmed that Freezing tracks will be available in Pro Tools 12, but with the ability to provide more frequent feature updates, we will be keen to see how the software develops.
While I do not doubt the power that Pro Tools’ implementation of cloud collaboration will certainly change the way people will work, will that be enough to encourage people to upgrade? What’s certain is that now Avid are offering different options for people to try Pro Tools for themselves and decide it is right for them.
By Paul Lavigne