How does this market actually work?

David Kudell

Active Member
Here's food for thought. Conventional thinking is that the sole purpose of a sample library is to use those sounds as part of a recorded piece of music. However, I submit that there is great joy to be had in simply playing a beautiful virtual instrument live, even if it never makes its way into a song.

I can easily spend hours noodling around with the horns in Metropolis Ark 1, the Joshua Bell Violin, or Noire piano...without laying down a single MIDI note in my DAW. And what's wrong with that? What's different about that than picking up a guitar or any other "real" instrument.

A beautiful virtual instrument opens one up to a world of artistic expression. And if composing isn't your day job, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a sample library, or even want the best sounding ones.
 

Thundercat

Active Member
So it seems that there is an answer to my economic question arising from our discussion. My question was predicated on the assumption that in the micro-economics of this market demand is driven by rational requirements. What we seem to be saying is that my assumption is completely wrong. Demand in this market is in fact primarily driven by a mixture of other factors, some good, some ugly. These include “inspiration”, fun, artistic variation, discernment and taste but also by FOMO, laziness, vanity, fantasy stoked by hype and conversely by a lack of discernment.

Maybe I am exaggerating, but it is an interesting thought.
In other words, the very forces that drive all markets.

Now stop reading and posting here and get back to actually MAKING MUSIC!
 

Royosho

Member
Personally, I'm addicted to buying sample libraries. I especially love discovering hidden gems, rather than spending a bunch on expensive libraries. And when I see an awesome sale, it's like the whole universe is lined up perfectly and I'm right on track, know what I mean?

For example, there's some madman selling Abbey Road 70s Drums and Rickenbacker Bass, two $100 libraries, for only $25 each in the buy sell forum. Whoever that seller is :whistling: they're practically giving them away! Happy holidays! ;)
 
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Thundercat

Active Member
I would venture to say that if you are a professional who is expected to produce works of music that sound as if they are performed by an entire orchestra (and often times other instruments as well), you need a lot more than 1 or 2 oboes to accomplish that goal.

In addition, I also tend to think that sample libraries tend to only have a set number of articulations or sounds they can produce, where as wtih a traditional instrument (such as a guitar or oboe) a skilled player can achieve MUCH MUCH more variety and nuance. This is another reason why we collect so many libraries, to capture that range of expression which does not yet exist in sample libraries.
GREAT point!

At one point the composer was actually someone who just created the actual music. With the advent of all the myriad tools and technologies, we are now expected to be composer, orchrestra, producer, mix engineer, master instrumentalist (of ALL instruments), and all-around great guys/gals. It's a lot of hats we need to wear, and that necessitates a lot of tools.

Tools = samples = software = training = ...
 

DSmolken

Senior Member
My question lies somewhere else though. I am interested in attempting to understand the economics.
That's harder to find out; we can infer some things about the size of the market, but even with my own customers, well, I know what some of the ones who post stuff around here do, but as for others, it's really hard to say. I get occasional sales from people whose email implies they work for a TV station or a rhythm game developer, and once in a while a DJ or EDM producer. One pop singer, and one or two developers of plugins and e-kit drummers. But most, as far as I can see, are just people, with people-type names, and mostly from rich Western countries. I could Google them, and it might actually be smart for future marketing purposes, but tbh that would just be too much work, and feel like poking my nose into their business. So, I don't know, but of the 10% or so of the ones whose emails suggest what they do, most appear to be doing music for media, with EDM and pop being well behind that, and no one I've recognized as doing hip-hop.

Funny thing is, I probably have the best idea of who uses stuff and for what with Marie Ork, because being a singing synthesizer she often gets credited as a singer. There it's practically all hobbyists, but she's free, and she's a singing synthesizer, so can't extrapolate from that.
 
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thereus

Active Member
That's harder to find out; we can infer some things about the size of the market, but even with my own customers, well, I know what some of the ones who post stuff around here do, but as for others, it's really hard to say. I get occasional sales from people whose email implies they work for a TV station or a rhythm game developer, and once in a while a DJ or EDM producer. One pop singer, and one or two developers of plugins and e-kit drummers. But most, as far as I can see, are just people, with people-type names, and mostly from rich Western countries. I could Google them, and it might actually be smart for future marketing purposes, but tbh that would just be too much work, and feel like poking my nose into their business. So, I don't know, but of the 10% or so of the ones whose emails suggest what they do, most appear to be doing music for media, with EDM and pop being well behind that, and no one I've recognized as doing hip-hop.

Funny thing is, I probably have the best idea of who uses stuff and for what with Marie Ork, because being a singing synthesizer she often gets credited as a singer. There it's practically all hobbyists, but she's free, and she's a singing synthesizer, so can't extrapolate from that.
Don’t knock her for that!

I think that Spitfore are interesting because they probably havegot the biggest marketing effort and therefore have probably done the most market research so by looking at what they target, we can potentially infer what their research has told them. Also, given their “buy once, download whenever”, free updates and relentless new libraries, they need to consistently find new customers.

Their focus in their vlogs on education for young composers at the one end and their split of products into normal and pro might suggest that the volume is in the student market.
 

JohnG

Senior Member
Chicken or Egg?

Imagine if everybody on VI-Control had put as much time into engineering the perfect phrasing and orchestration using SCS as they did into imagining how good their phrasing and orchestration would sound after they had bought BBCSO.
I think this is exactly backwards ^^. It's precisely because we want something to sound musical and as natural and effortless as possible that so many sounds are desirable.

Moreover, if you have enough sounds, it's absolutely amazing how much further you can push your composing skills, considering the near-impossibility (financially) to experiment and re-record with a live orchestra. The only composer I know of who does a lot of that these days is John Williams. And I guess I don't know if he is still doing it -- but he routinely rewrote key passages, or at least rearranged them, when he was in his heyday.

Haydn was stuck in the middle of nowhere on the Esterhazy estate and he had an orchestra at his command every week. He got better.

So I would argue that having a lot of sounds can make people better and more satisfied composers, because of the time those sounds allow for experimentation.

Unlikely Does Not Equal Irrational

So it seems that there is an answer to my economic question arising from our discussion. My question was predicated on the assumption that in the micro-economics of this market demand is driven by rational requirements. What we seem to be saying is that my assumption is completely wrong.
I don't think your presumption of rationality is wrong. In fact, I disagree with the opposite assumption I see in quite a number of posts -- that a significant number of purchases are driven by some kind of "fish hitting a lure" reflex that causes people to buy.

It's not exactly irrational to hope you can be one of five or ten or maybe thirty people on earth who get to write scores for the big movies; it may be unrealistic, but not exactly irrational. Besides, if we condemn the purchasers based on our judgement of the likelihood of realizing their dreams of greatness (musical or otherwise), then I think we'd have to look at a very large proportion of consumer behaviour and deem it irrational.

Why Bother With Anything?

Besides, hopes and dreams and all that mushy stuff is what gets us out of bed in the morning. If life is just a contest to see who can accumulate the most money, then what's the point?
 
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Thomas Kallweit

eclecticism
..and with more sample-libraries you succeed : )

Honestly, I suppose that there are also composers who work with less sample libraries (they know well).
Probably it is for lots of people here the thing to make it sound most realistically.
To me that's not all (but of course depends if you want to have the items played by real players in the end or not). So I can understand what @Wally Garten wrote here.

For me everything can be material, so some cheap sound sources as well as sonically superb Libs.
The question is how authenthic it has to be (if you want that direction, then yes, more is more variations)
 
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thereus

Active Member
All such fascinating comments.

It's interesting that this discussion keeps returning to what people should or should not buy and their motivations for doing so, since this is not really what I was originally wondering. My question is what people actually do buy and actually will buy in the future and whether the market will continue to support the creation of amazing tools at amazing prices or whether the already-recorded libraries will price the new out of the market at some point.

Both are questions that seem to me to be worth pondering and it is even more interesting that they appear to be hard to separate. I wonder why that is.
 

JohnG

Senior Member
this discussion keeps returning to what people should or should not buy and their motivations for doing so
Very true -- this and just about every other discussion on the subject (and there have been many) quickly dart down a rathole of normative judgements and scorn.

My question is what people actually do buy and actually will buy in the future and whether the market will continue to support the creation of amazing tools at amazing prices or whether the already-recorded libraries will price the new out of the market at some point.
It's possible. There's another index of "goodness" about these libraries that might be the next point of differentiation: "usability."

Usability

Most libraries today come with, to put it kindly, uneven specs and editing. Some samples are noticeably louder than others. Many times, different articulations speak earlier or later than others -- sometimes a lot earlier or later. And some of the other aspects of the sound, such as vibrato, is either not controllable enough or overly sensitive or otherwise disappointing.

So I think there are other horizons to consider.
 

Sears Poncho

Senior Member
Some samples are noticeably louder than others. Many times, different articulations speak earlier or later than others -- sometimes a lot earlier or later. And some of the other aspects of the sound, such as vibrato, is either not controllable enough or overly sensitive or otherwise disappointing.
Take out the word "samples" and replace with "players". Same thing. :)

I like the flaws. I just wish they were in different places. Love it when strings have a short that's a little bumpy if there are enough round robins. I wish we had a "flaw knob" that went from "Berlin Phil" to "Mayberry Town band and Otis is drunk".
 

purple

Active Member
I don't know about you, but for me new libraries are constantly coming out that sound better than anything previous. For me the goal is the highest level of realism and flexibility and as a full time student and only part time worker I don't have the cash to just buy anything and everything like some people on here. CSB came out only a year ago and that's the only brass library I've used that had me happy with what I was sending to a client. I still haven't seen a woodwind library that doesn't make me cringe. I will concede that I think the string market is maybe over-saturated. Those sound pretty good already from a lot of companies. Even people with terabytes of samples can get bored of the sounds they're putting out especially if you're hearing it all day every day.

Even outside of that, i think the saturation only drives people to look for and create more and more innovative stuff in order to stick out from the crowd. Outside of their big, hyped releases like BBCSO and so on, spitfire for example mostly puts out stuff that is specialized or unique and inspired.
 
All such fascinating comments.

It's interesting that this discussion keeps returning to what people should or should not buy and their motivations for doing so, since this is not really what I was originally wondering. My question is what people actually do buy and actually will buy in the future and whether the market will continue to support the creation of amazing tools at amazing prices or whether the already-recorded libraries will price the new out of the market at some point.

Both are questions that seem to me to be worth pondering and it is even more interesting that they appear to be hard to separate. I wonder why that is.
I think there will continue to be a market for libraries as long as they continue to update and innovate. For example if a company can release a gentle acoustic guitar picking library in a style I like, I can’t wait to give them my money.
 

Alex Fraser

Senior Member
My question is what people actually do buy and actually will buy in the future and whether the market will continue to support the creation of amazing tools at amazing prices or whether the already-recorded libraries will price the new out of the market at some point.
I guess my knee-jerk-not-really-considered answer to your question is that the "already-recorded" libraries are reduced in price over time and re-invented for the lower end of the market.

(Spitfire's re-invention of Albion I into Epic Strings is a good example of this.)

I must admit, I watched Spitfire's new HZ string update video over lunch today and I did wonder where the hell libraries have left to go, barring a breakthrough in performance technologies.
 

VinRice

... i am a robot ... viruses have no effect ...
I must admit, I watched Spitfire's new HZ string update video over lunch today and I did wonder where the hell libraries have left to go, barring a breakthrough in performance technologies.
Well I think performance technology is exactly where it's at. After watching the Expressive Osmose demo its clear to me that that's the way forward. I would KILL to have this much expressive control over an orchestral library.