Dec 212009

I came across a thread in the Keys, Synths, & Samplers forum on Harmony Central in which people were discussing what significant music-related trends/events had occurred in the first decade of the 21st century (2000-2009, the “aughts,” or better yet, the “naughties”). I began writing a post for the thread, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized just how dramatic and significant the changes of the last 10 years have been for the manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of music instruments, music production and virtual instrument software, and pro audio gear.

disclaimer: if you’re not into pro audio gear, I apologize in advance for whatever industry terminology I’m about to throw around. Feel free to comment on items that could use clarification.

Part 1: The Marriage of Hardware and Software

Hardware Companies Get Into The Software Game
Perhaps when, in July of 2002, Apple acquired eMagic (makers of Logic and various Virtual Instruments, it was a sign of things to come. During this past decade, many of the top DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) were affected by a change in ownership:
These moves clearly indicate that many major pro audio manufacturers recognize the growing importance of software (and hopefully also recognize the critical need for controllable and well-integrated hardware/software combinations).

Software DAW Manufacturers Get Into The VI Game
Less prominent, but still significant, was the trend of software companies acquiring talent for the development of virtual instruments, or VIs:

Hardware Companies Grow Their Own DAWs
Some companies decided to try and carve their own niche in the market by developing their own software rather than acquiring established programs / companies, with varying degrees of success:
  • Mackie developed Tracktion, a simplified DAW for which they eventually discontinued development
  • PreSonus developed Studio One under a development team comprised mostly of former Steinberg developers, including noted software architect Wolfgang Kundrus.
  • Propellerhead developed Record.
  • Arturia, manufacturer of software instruments, first released Analog Factory Experience with its own dedicated keyboard controller, and later released Origin, a full-fledged hardware synth.

Software Companies Get Into The Hardware Game
  • Native Instruments developed hardware-controlled-software like Guitar Rig, Kore, and Maschine. They also developed their own new line of audio interfaces.
  • Ableton, taking a slightly different approach, partnered first with Akai Professional and later with Novation, to develop controllers for hands-on control of Ableton Live.
  • Digidesign took Pro Tools on the road with the introduction of VENUE live sound console systems.

One Step Beyond
Finally, following Avid’s acquisition of Digidesign back in 1995, effectively marrying a dominant player in the professional video production world with a dominant player in the professional audio production world, Avid later:
  • acquired M-Audio (formerly Midiman) in 2004, giving them popular affordable studio gear and keyboard controller offerings, and 
  • in 2006, acquired Sibelius, one of the world leaders in notation and composition software.

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