Abbey Road Red Talk | Satellite of Creation - How our Music Making is Evolving Online | Blog Two

12th October 2021

In the second blog covering their Satellite of Creation Red Talk, Innovation Manager Karim Fanous is going to cover key insights from their panel.

Red was lucky enough to host a combination of IRL and URL panelists which included:

Pär Almqvist – Founder and CEO; Tracklib (URL)
Meng Ru Kuok – Founder and CEO; BandLab (URL)
Will Evans – CEO; Spitfire Audio (IRL in Studio Three)
Mark Mulligan – Founder and MD; MIDiA Research (URL via Webinar)
Karim Fanous – Innovation Manager; Abbey Road Red (IRL in Studio Three)

Having got to know each other over a great call the week before there was a good energy in anticipation of some key points we had highlighted. We focus on the key points below.


MIDI Keyboards

Building on Mark's earlier point about MIDI keyboards, Will agreed that there had definitely been a bump in sales of Spitfire samples which could be broadly correlated with increased prevalence of affordable and small midi keyboards and general growth of the creator pool in general.
The humble midi keyboard, think of the ever-present and extremely affordable AKAI MPK Mini or more expensive but powerful Arturia KeyStep Pro. These keyboards give creators an extremely easy and powerful means of triggering sounds, some like the MPK coming with large heritage sample banks, or controlling instruments or mix parameters on DAWs. Alongside audio interfaces like the omnipresent and affordable Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 they are a gateway to making high quality sounds and music easily and more often.

The Creator Diaspora

Pär and Meng were keen to describe how powerful online creator tools are enabling and powering a global creator diaspora and cross cultural and cross-border collaboration.
Pär pointed out that access is the keyword, with creator tools like Tracklib and others enabling easy and affordable access to a treasure chest of world-class samples across a width of genres and cultures
For example Tracklib licensed one of the oldest record labels and catalogues in China, with music dating back to 1928, which has now been sampled multiple times by dub producers.
Meng underlined this ease of access as being a key driver in creator growth in the diaspora. One of BandLab's core qualities is that it is global, having just crossed 40 million users with its biggest user base in the US but including less typically serviced territories like Brazil, India, the Philippines, UK and France as other key markets its top ten.
Meng also drew an important if cheeky analogy between a modern smartphone and toothbrush, saying that in the same way a toothbrush is cheap, affordable and accessible we now have the equivalent of a creative 'toothbrush in our pocket' with access to a powerhouse suite of online creative tools that are extremely affordable or free.

Distributed Tools Empowering Diversity

An unusually high number of BandLab's music creators, 35% or more, are women. When asked what was driving this growth, Meng answered that it wasn't features or design, but reach. The fact that Bandlab's tools are available on the Android mobile platform when dev is often focused on iOS first or exclusively, means that they are accessible to more people, meaning that a higher number of female creators have potential access to its tools globally. So in this case it’s a question volume and ease of access versus more appealing design or intuitive features.

Subscription vs. Unit Sales

Discussing downwards pricing pressure and the trend towards subscriptions, Will pointed out that at Spitfire Audio there is still a firm belief in creating the highest quality possible must-have products, with perpetual licenses that are relatively expensive versus subscription access, and that creators will still pay for them.

Furthermore they believe there is still headroom to grow, as long as the products are of premium quality, bucking the general trend to downwards pricing pressure and subscription access.

There is an important offset to this, in that Spitfire has its own free product called Labs, a bunch of instruments bundled for free within its own simple native plug-in sampler. Using labs producers can access the Spitfire sound and quality for free, which brings them into the Spitfire funnel. Eventually these users may pay for premium products.

As always we then broke the panel down into a discussion, this time also celebrating the fact that we'd pulled off our first IRL/URL talk, something we'd look forward to doing again next time!

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