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IMSTA FESTA BERLIN
Oct. 28, 2017

PIRACY

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Let's Celebrate

A significant number of music software consumers buy their software and support the manufacturers so that they can continue to develop their software and to those people we celebrate you and say a HUGE thank you. The entire music software industry is being supported by you and rests solely on your shoulders. You are the reason there is version 6 after version 5 and version 7 after version 6. From the bottom of our hearts we thank you!

Piracy Issue

Piracy is a problem. It is not the biggest problem afflicting our world, but it is not the smallest either. The fact that there are people working passionately and tirelessly to solve much, much bigger and seemingly impossible problems should give us comfort and encouragement as we tackle piracy. Just because a problem seems overwhelming does not mean we should not combat it.

Work and Pay

When we think of piracy we see the issue in terms of work and pay. We see talented music software developers making important products that musicians and producers use without paying anything. This is a bit personal because we know many of these developers. They share the same deep love of music and audio that their customers do. They work as hard doing what they love as the people who use their software. The big difference is sometimes the software developers do not get paid for their work. We believe the concept that everyone should be paid for their work is a universal truth. Who can really argue with this? The alternative is a kind of modern slavery and digital servitude.

There is a significant number of music software consumers who do not pay for the software they rely on day in and day out to make money and create their art. There are commercial recording studios, and private ones owned and operated by GRAMMY-Award winning multi-millionaire producers and artists, operating with illegal versions of $99.00 plug-ins and even illegal versions of the main DAW running the works. We wonder how this can be. These are creators of intellectual property who typically want consumers to buy their music yet they do not pay for other intellectual property. When you find yourself in the midst of such contradiction you realize that it's not only a money issue, it's an education issue. These folks can afford these plug-ins. They can afford to buy the DAW that helps to realize their musical dream. They can afford to buy that go-to plug-in that is put across every track. The reason they do not is because they are not educated.

Piracy Theory

The entirety of music software consumers can be divided into 3 categories: A Group, B Group and C Group. The A Group buys all their software products. The B-Group buys some software and uses some illegal software. The C Group will never use legal copies and will always use illegal versions. What IMSTA believe is that we should celebrate the A Group, educate and B Group and ignore C Group.

Let's Talk Money

Piracy hurts software manufactures because it hurts their revenues. We live in a capitalist world as this requires that businesses are financially viable in order for them to survive. Diminishing the monetary return of these small music software businesses hurt their long term survival. If these music software businesses cannot sustain themselves then they will either go out of business or make some other kind of software where the customers tend to pay. We have already seen examples of companies abandoning and diversifying out of music software in part because of high piracy rates – TC-Works and Bomb Factory come to mind. This means that the magical tools that would have and could have come from these minds are no more. To the people using illegal versions of music software, we say emphatically that it is in your long term interest to pay for the software you are using. It helps to ensure that that software stays alive. If the music software you are using stays alive [i.e. keeps getting developed] then you benefit. Conversely, if the music software you are using dies, you lose.

Do The Right Thing

We believe that illegal software is stolen software. If you make a number one record with a stolen guitar and microphone, that perhaps only you know are stolen, we believe that taints your art. I think most of us would rather keep the creative path wholesome and true. We ask everyone reading this to begin to think of what illegal software says. What does it say about the people who use it? Are they bad people? Are they pirates? Are they just smart? Are they cheap? We can give you our opinion about how to answer these questions but let's just say that people who have all legal software in their production chain are a league above those that do not. You don't want to hit a baseball with a stolen bat, you do not want to compress a kick drum with a stolen compressor, you do not want to tune a vocal with a stolen plug-in because it is simply the wrong thing to do.

Does It Really Matter?

Recently, a well-known celebrity was caught using a pirated version of Serum virtual synth which sells for $189. Serum reportedly has a piracy rate of 94% and it is still being developed. Therefore, you can make a case that 6% of the user base is sufficient to keep the developer alive and well, and this may well be true. However, on the other hand we wonder what could that developer make for the world if he got twice [12%] or even three times [18%] of the potential revenue. At the very least we are sure that 1 or 2 jobs will be created to help manage the 200% increase in business. It would be a mistake to infer that the popularity of a music software product automatically translates into riches for the software developer.

There are music software companies that employ hundreds of people but these can be counted on one hand. The vast majority are 1 to 5 person operations who must continue to develop just to keep up with changes in computer hardware and software. The smaller companies are largely responsible for the huge diversity of products in the assortment available for music producers. They are vital to creative production and we all benefit by their survival.

Just a little perspective: According to NAMM surveys, the entire music software business grossed about $200M in 2015. This is a healthy business and as we said before we have hundreds of thousands of honest customers to thank for this. However, by contrast sales of the pharmaceutical Humira in 2015 were $14,012M. This single drug is 70 times larger than the entire music software industry. The entire pharmaceutical business had sales of $1,072,000M in 2015 – that is 5,360 times larger than the music software business.

Guilt Trip?

We sometimes get told that we are just putting a guilt trip on people. We don't really know or care if that's what it is. To IMSTA we are people, like you, who use products from bigger companies like Avid, NI, Arturia, Steinberg, IK, Izotope and smaller ones like Antares, McDSP, Soundtoys, Slate Digital, FabFilter, Celemony, Image Line, and tiny ones like Xfer Records, Acon Digital, Polyverse, Wholegrain and Wave Arts. We love these products. We need these products. We rely on them to make a living. We want them to continue to be available and to be updated. This means development must continue. The only way we can make sure this happens is to try our best to keep these companies viable. So it is not about making you feel guilty as much as preserving the stupendous music production world we created since the invention of MIDI.

Do the right thing - 'buy the software you use'