How does this market actually work?

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thereus

Active Member
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.
Which is exactly my point. Reducing the price of yesterday's library and putting a high price on today's only works if today's library is significantly better. Maybe that is no longer going to be so clear-cut. What will happen to the market then? That was my original question.
 
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thereus

Active Member
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.
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Wally Garten

Senior Member
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.
Yes -- I bought a couple of libraries for BF this year, but my most exciting purchases this year have been a breath controller and the Expressive E Touche.
 
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thereus

Active Member
Looking at the new update for HZ strings which apparently 21 velocity layers with 5 round robins and 21 mics, I am going to say that maybe the decs does have a long way to go with innovation before the old threatens the new. I hope somebody somewhere has some seriously deep pockets.
 

Rv5

Senior Member
Most of the libraries that come out are very similar to other libraries on the market. The level of innovation is quite limited at this point. One you have a couple of orchestras, a bunch of synths, Komplete, a decent set of solo instruments, some drums and a collection of scoring and hybrid noises, you really are all set. Why would you ever buy anything else? Yet the instruments keep coming and the hype is going up rather than down.

It seems to me there must be four segments to the market.

1.) Old hands who more or less have everything they could ever need but have enough cash and enough child-like wonder to buy more.
2.) Old hands who don't bother so much these days.
3.) People legitimately gathering the above so as to have a workable arsenal.
4.) Students who will spend their loans but most of whom will never make a bean back from the industry.
5.) Hobbyists who just enjoy this stuff with varying levels of leisure money to enjoy spending.

I have been trying to match the hype to the market segment. Spitfire aim a lot at segment 4 and seem to be the company with the most cash to throw around, so I am assuming the sheer number of students makes that segment very profitable. Lower spend per head but many more heads. It would be interesting to see how it breaks down.

When is saturation reached? Can there really be profit in bringing out yet another orchestra?
I'm also quite fascinated with this kind of stuff. It is and has been for a while, a huge multi-multi-million pound market that's growing every year. It's something developers from the early early days help forge hand-in-hand with other technologies and industries that some of the now-large developers tapped into, not created.

There's a lot to unravel, a lot of contributing factors sustaining this market, (too much to go into now but you hit on it with the list). In terms of saturation, it's a growing market and any 'good' brand will move the goalposts of what it means to have what you 'need', plus there are people graduating every year... saturation is then an addressed issue. So you set out the long term plan, you set the shelf-life of your product and release accordingly but beyond that, you become an 'authority' on the matter if you can. I remember reading a good take on this with heels (shoes) used as an example, and how it's essentially short heels and long heels, but 'somehow' the trend cycles (shelf life), the market isn't saturated and people buy into it. On paper that's an incredibly limited product with essentially two variants, but yet thrives, an 'authority' on fashion guides the sales.. Also these days, it's all about 'community', brands love community:

Community is a potent strategy if it is approached with the right mind-set and skills. A strong brand community increases customer loyalty, lowers marketing costs, authenticates brand meanings, and yields an influx of ideas to grow the business. Through commitment, engagement, and support, companies can cultivate brand communities that deliver powerful returns. When you get community right, the benefits are irrefutable.
Article
Article 2
Article 3

So your question regarding the market and what people will buy in the future, branding is huge and those that go down the 'community' route will probably stand the test of time, beyond the product which almost becomes secondary. Exploiting a community for profit though is a terrible way to spend your time and a pathetic reason to engage with community. As for using shill accounts, I don't know how anyone could look back and consider any kind of success real but that's a different story.

Your categories seem on the ball, pros, students, hobbyists, collectors, enthusiasts, the ambitious, the aspiring. There's this weird discrepancy between people working in the business and those looking to get into it with some companies playing a role in the middle ground, kind of presenting the industry (whatever it may be) as something it kind of isn't, which is a shame. Some palm it off as harmless 'how it's always been way of things'. Some consider it damaging and part of a larger 'problem'.

There's deeper psychological, sociological and cultural elements to consider as well, but that's an essays worth, depends how far down the rabbit hole you want to go! Certainly 'something tangibly attainable through purchase' seems to play a huge role in the majority of purchases, whatever it may be, sample libraries included. There's perhaps other elements to consider in the context of a creative industry.

In terms of innovation, the 'traditional' method of sampling has been around for some decades and most of what is around today stand on those shoulders. Peter Siedlaczek's Orchestra from the early 2000s (?) used a national media symphony orchestra, offered up textual orchestral patches and had a liveliness to it with player movements, natural recordings and a rawness and that was 20 years ago. So sales and success doesn't rely on innovation. There's a cool article I can't currently find, about a beer company in the 19th/20th century who hired in someone to help with branding. They showed him around the brewery and the processes involved in making the beer. The branding guy was blown away at the care and attention going in to each aspect and asked why it wasn't part of their branding. They just replied, well, everyone does it, it's nothing unique. The branding guy rebuilt the brand around these common processes and launched the company into the top handful of breweries in the US. Their product hadn't changed, the market hadn't changed, they just tapped into something people wanted to hear.

Thomas 'freaking genius' Bergersen, Nick 'sampling pioneer' Phoenix with Shawn 'John William's sound engineer' Murphey released incredible libraries now available at incredible prices. EastWest's customer support was poor, to put it gently (may have changed since), part of the branding story.

Sample Modelling Brass is something next-level. In terms of musicality, play-ability, versatility, these stand out as something untouched in my opinion. In terms of product, it's all there, however unlike the days of old when a magazine advert would consist of a schematic of the microphone components, the branding story is where it's at (from the website, shopping experience, support, to adverts, to social medias, to campaigns, to events, to sponsorships, endorsements, design, history, story, 'community') simply utilising tried and tested advertising and marketing tropes of other industries; the brand, its story.

Eh, interesting stuff anyhoo! So anyway yes, there can be a profit in bringing out a new orchestra.
 
OP
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thereus

Active Member
I'm also quite fascinated with this kind of stuff. It is and has been for a while, a huge multi-multi-million pound market that's growing every year. It's something developers from the early early days help forge hand-in-hand with other technologies and industries that some of the now-large developers tapped into, not created.

There's a lot to unravel, a lot of contributing factors sustaining this market, (too much to go into now but you hit on it with the list). In terms of saturation, it's a growing market and any 'good' brand will move the goalposts of what it means to have what you 'need', plus there are people graduating every year... saturation is then an addressed issue. So you set out the long term plan, you set the shelf-life of your product and release accordingly but beyond that, you become an 'authority' on the matter if you can. I remember reading a good take on this with heels (shoes) used as an example, and how it's essentially short heels and long heels, but 'somehow' the trend cycles (shelf life), the market isn't saturated and people buy into it. On paper that's an incredibly limited product with essentially two variants, but yet thrives, an 'authority' on fashion guides the sales.. Also these days, it's all about 'community', brands love community:



Article
Article 2
Article 3

So your question regarding the market and what people will buy in the future, branding is huge and those that go down the 'community' route will probably stand the test of time, beyond the product which almost becomes secondary. Exploiting a community for profit though is a terrible way to spend your time and a pathetic reason to engage with community. As for using shill accounts, I don't know how anyone could look back and consider any kind of success real but that's a different story.

Your categories seem on the ball, pros, students, hobbyists, collectors, enthusiasts, the ambitious, the aspiring. There's this weird discrepancy between people working in the business and those looking to get into it with some companies playing a role in the middle ground, kind of presenting the industry (whatever it may be) as something it kind of isn't, which is a shame. Some palm it off as harmless 'how it's always been way of things'. Some consider it damaging and part of a larger 'problem'.

There's deeper psychological, sociological and cultural elements to consider as well, but that's an essays worth, depends how far down the rabbit hole you want to go! Certainly 'something tangibly attainable through purchase' seems to play a huge role in the majority of purchases, whatever it may be, sample libraries included. There's perhaps other elements to consider in the context of a creative industry.

In terms of innovation, the 'traditional' method of sampling has been around for some decades and most of what is around today stand on those shoulders. Peter Siedlaczek's Orchestra from the early 2000s (?) used a national media symphony orchestra, offered up textual orchestral patches and had a liveliness to it with player movements, natural recordings and a rawness and that was 20 years ago. So sales and success doesn't rely on innovation. There's a cool article I can't currently find, about a beer company in the 19th/20th century who hired in someone to help with branding. They showed him around the brewery and the processes involved in making the beer. The branding guy was blown away at the care and attention going in to each aspect and asked why it wasn't part of their branding. They just replied, well, everyone does it, it's nothing unique. The branding guy rebuilt the brand around these common processes and launched the company into the top handful of breweries in the US. Their product hadn't changed, the market hadn't changed, they just tapped into something people wanted to hear.

Thomas 'freaking genius' Bergersen, Nick 'sampling pioneer' Phoenix with Shawn 'John William's sound engineer' Murphey released incredible libraries now available at incredible prices. EastWest's customer support was poor, to put it gently (may have changed since), part of the branding story.

Sample Modelling Brass is something next-level. In terms of musicality, play-ability, versatility, these stand out as something untouched in my opinion. In terms of product, it's all there, however unlike the days of old when a magazine advert would consist of a schematic of the microphone components, the branding story is where it's at (from the website, shopping experience, support, to adverts, to social medias, to campaigns, to events, to sponsorships, endorsements, design, history, story, 'community') simply utilising tried and tested advertising and marketing tropes of other industries; the brand, its story.

Eh, interesting stuff anyhoo! So anyway yes, there can be a profit in bringing out a new orchestra.
Thanks for this. It takes the discussion in a whole new and interesting direction and probably takes a bit of digesting. That HD article is a perfect description of what Spitfire are doing. That kind of professional marketing info does make it look rather more disingenuous than it wishes to appear. it also explains why the two questions in this thread are so hard to separate. No wonder Fred go so frustrated with everyone else making the money out of the community he created with VI-Control.

So people have utility-driven requirements and they also have a natural tendency towards GAS. By confusing the two, engaging intellectually with the former while wildly stoking the emotions involved in the latter, you can make people feel that they are being educated while in fact they are being willingly exploited.

I wonder what the ratio of GAS-driven and utility-driven purchases is in this market?

Witness the regular VI-Control posts where somebody humourously outlines their internal dilemma thus, "I don't need another string library. I don't need another string library. Ooh, my credit card details seem to have entered themselves into the website. What a fantastic new library!" etc.

The one thing that has continually bugged me about Spitfire's comms is that the education and the marketing are so mixed up. The education is vast and honest if rather unrealistic while the marketing is unashamed hype and they move from one to the other with no apparent change of tone. Here's just one example. Christian Henson, in many of his earlier vids, explained in some detail why everyone should eschew big templates and make a new one for each project (the risk of two projects sounding too similar). More recently he as become a convert. Everyone should use their latest product as the only template anyone would need.

Maybe I am just a cynic.
 

Alex Fraser

Senior Member
The one thing that has continually bugged me about Spitfire's comms is that the education and the marketing are so mixed up. The education is vast and honest if rather unrealistic while the marketing is unashamed hype and they move from one to the other with no apparent change of tone. Here's just one example. Christian Henson, in many of his earlier vids, explained in some detail why everyone should eschew big templates and make a new one for each project (the risk of two projects sounding too similar). More recently he as become a convert. Everyone should use their latest product as the only template anyone would need.
At the risk of making (yet another) thread about Spitfire, I think there's a couple of things to clarify here. Whilst it would be easy (and logical) to link Christian's vlog to the Spitfire marketing machine, I'm not sure CH's sweary musings from the top of Arthur's Seat are always relevant to the sale of sample libraries. Fun though.

The BBSO template is a bit of a red herring - it wasn't actually supplied with the sale of BBCSO and was presented as "here's a free thing that works great with our new library" but not an essential download to use the product. I got the vibe it was more of a pet project of Christians which he decided to share.

Buy yes, I completely accept your point about community building being the heart of modern marketing. It's easy to feel one has a "relationship" with a dev which in turn, encourages spending.
 

Sears Poncho

Senior Member
Reducing the price of yesterday's library and putting a high price on today's only works if today's library is significantly better. Maybe that is no longer going to be so clear-cut.
I gotta mention Heavyocity Ascend here. As the kids say, "It's all that". I think they are really showing us the way to the future. A lot of sample libraries are doing a decent job of "imitating" instruments. Ascend does that with the piano sound then takes the instrument to a different place.

I can imagine (in my head, since symphony types loathe change) someone playing a piano concerto. In the middle of it, they hit a button and change the sound of the piano. Good pianists of course can do this to an extent, but if the mood is dark the pianist hits the 'dark' button. Seems like a logical extension of harpsichord/pianoforte etc. The instruments changed back in ye olden days, why not today? Instead of imitating a piano, make a superpiano. Imagine a piano concerto, the pianist is playing alone and all of a sudden 5ths are echoing and ostinatos are happening, all live.

Too bad symphonies only play like the same 20 pieces. over and over. ;)
 

VinRice

... i am a robot ...
Too bad symphonies only play like the same 20 pieces. over and over. ;)
Hyperbole but broadly true. Do you think they like playing the same pieces? It's dictated by the audience who will pay for those concerts (which are bloody expensive to stage).
 

Sears Poncho

Senior Member
Hyperbole but broadly true. Do you think they like playing the same pieces? It's dictated by the audience who will pay for those concerts (which are bloody expensive to stage).
A lot of non-public domain music is expensive to rent, that's one big aspect of it. Some composers (Menotti being one) are going to lose their legacy because the rental fees are too high. Some of it is playing the "hits" for the audience. Some of it is instrumentation, it takes a lot of extra musicians to play most Mahler, R. Strauss etc., while it doesn't take any to play Beethoven and Brahms.

Most of it is Music Director apathy. They do repertoire they know because it's safe. Copland wrote tons of music. "Hey, let's play Appalachian Spring!". Again. And again....
 
OP
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thereus

Active Member
At the risk of making (yet another) thread about Spitfire, I think there's a couple of things to clarify here. Whilst it would be easy (and logical) to link Christian's vlog to the Spitfire marketing machine, I'm not sure CH's sweary musings from the top of Arthur's Seat are always relevant to the sale of sample libraries. Fun though.

The BBSO template is a bit of a red herring - it wasn't actually supplied with the sale of BBCSO and was presented as "here's a free thing that works great with our new library" but not an essential download to use the product. I got the vibe it was more of a pet project of Christians which he decided to share.

Buy yes, I completely accept your point about community building being the heart of modern marketing. It's easy to feel one has a "relationship" with a dev which in turn, encourages spending.
It seems to me that RV5 provided us with a perspective with which to draw the link between the sweary musings from the top of Arthur's Seat and the sale of sample libraries quite clearly. He gave us some clarity about how a salesman might seek to become an authority in the arena to which he sells, in order to create demand and then might change his views to fit the current offering from his own shop. That seems to me to be one interpretation of Chris Henson's changing views about templates now that he has successfully identified his own library as a "universal starting point". The question is the point, for Henson, helping people who want to make music or getting people who want to make music to spend money on his products? When those things are in conflict, how does he decide how to proceed?
 

JohnG

Senior Member
The question is the point, for Henson, helping people who want to make music or getting people who want to make music to spend money on his products? When those things are in conflict, how does he decide how to proceed?
Why do you posit that there has to be a conflict?

Is it Just a Trick?

Marketing these days requires authenticity and sincerity. In fact, I think they are what it's all about, whether you're a composer or a company (Christian and Paul are both, of course).

As a composer who's constantly under stress and constantly keen to keep refreshing (even at the margins) the palette, I keep being pleasantly surprised at how useful some of the more marginal products are. Libraries like their Aluphone, even Albion III (which is not as narrow), add musically useful colours and spark ideas, without -- and here is a key -- taking over the piece. Soundiron also has a lot of nifty niche libraries and of course there are tons of others.

As a composer, I find Christian's musings, his candor about successes and failures, and his very generous "how to get started" category of videos both accurate and authentic. I don't get the sense of a politician mouthing pre-tested expressions -- the opposite. He seems totally unguarded.

Convinced? Up to You

When I have the time to listen to Christian's videos (too rarely), I hear comments and anecdotes that echo my own experience in the music-for-media arena. His stories often mirror things that also happened to me -- good and bad. Consequently, I don't really take the videos as marketing in the sense of "convincing people to want things they don't need."

Put differently, it rings true and not a pose.

"If it Was Good Enough for Mozart..."

When my children were little, we taught them that advertising was a means to convince people they wanted / needed things that they actually didn't want or need.

I still think that, yet advertising / marketing do uncover some helpful surprises. Some composers insist that you should restrict yourself almost to a brick and a string, or a palette like, "if it was good enough for Mozart," and tell you that anything beyond that is just a trick, or false or something. There are a lot of scolds who castigate enthusiasm for new libraries.

But then what about Hans' audacity with the way he treats sounds, including traditional sounds? He does all kinds of crazy stuff and whose films have the largest box office lately? He's up there if not the top. So yes, it would be awesome to be surrounded, as Hans is, by fantastic players, fantastic engineers, great orchestrators and all that, but for most of us, that's either too expensive, too far away geographically or both.

So we buy a few new sounds. So what?

I find Hans and Christian both quite convincing -- that they are doing exactly what they say they are doing. Maybe that's why they like to work together? IDK
 
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Thundercat

Member
Looking at the new update for HZ strings which apparently 21 velocity layers with 5 round robins and 21 mics, I am going to say that maybe the decs does have a long way to go with innovation before the old threatens the new. I hope somebody somewhere has some seriously deep pockets.
How are you liking them?
 

purple

Active Member
Also worth noting that the market for music, be it music for other media or just music for music's sake, is only growing. And with it the market for products and tools for musicians. This is especially true with the growth of the internet and as more and more of the world's population gain access to it and to the technology it relies on.
 

Rv5

Senior Member
Ah look for clarification I'm not considering any one company in particular. This is just a take on how branding and marketing works and has worked for a long time now, and while I believe it's part of a larger problem, in answer to your question that's how businesses tend to thrive. It's certainly good to be informed and have an understanding of what techniques are employed if not for any other reason than to understand the world around you. In terms of Spitfire Audio, I mean looks like a mighty fine place to work, I wouldn't know as my applications didn't get anywhere! I take every chance I can to jump in about my enthusiasm for Iceni and their percussion is still up there as my favourite. They ended up producing what was going to be my first commercial release some years ago and that was a great experience. I haven't caught any of the vlogs or caught up with much else lately if not just for time, apart from what crops up here where they certainly get a lot of unfair comments, but also get called out on stuff that I'd consider fair and there are some things that seem off with a mis-match of intention. Same for me and anyone, my early attempts at branding were pretty embarrassing, derivative at best.

I'd say my vocation is more and more moving toward conservation. It's also been my dream since I was around 15 to create an orchestral sample library and champion the benefits they provided me. I think the two could compliment each other, but that's in the years to come. When that comes out, I'll be doing marketing of my own and the stakes will be more than just me making rent next month, which in turn will influence how Waverunner's marketing and branding will work.

There's nothing inherently wrong with business, at least there doesn't have to be, there are nuances too vast to really go in to. Some things might be more obvious like I went with a friend who wanted to check out transcendental meditation and the thing that caused people to walk out was the two giving the presentation attempting to claim the benefits of meditation was exclusive to what they were offering. That's grim and sadly echoed in other companies, laying claim to something that isn't theirs. For me, in general it all comes down to motivation and accepting some accountability. If there's a meeting where the objective is market domination and profit, and a route to do that is using something as important as community, it's just wrong, ill-informed and misguided at best, also boring. But you could argue at the same time, there might be a load of people benefiting from things as a result of that, but if it's all under guise I just think it's not worth it and is a terrible way to go about things and actually damaging on a larger scale. So yeah, those marketing models are fully embraced by the majority of big brands and the buzz word at the middle of it is 'community'.

We could all use a world with openness and honesty and for me, it's disheartening to learn even things like as an example finding out a composer who supposedly struggled and spent their last dime on a record that got them the gig that changed things forever grew up in the wing of a mansion and there was actually nothing at stake. It's just odd and falsifies the world generations look to, but that kinda thing has been happening for a long, long time. It's not negligible effect, it's tangible. There's opportunity for us to shape the world by the work we do in the communities we're in, it's something worth safeguarding and at the heart of that is truth. So that's the issue I take with such branding and intention, ymmv.
 
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thereus

Active Member
I am enjoying the thoughtfulness in your posts, RV5. In terms of understanding how the business works, I think the many contributors to this thread have begun to elucidate it a bit. I think you are right to suggest that business is not inherently bad, but it’s methods need to be clearly understood.

This question for me is whether this market depends to some extent on the unethical exploitation of those in the student segment to support the professionals, both composers and developers.

Hobbyists can look after themselves and their money. Let the buyer beware. The relatively smaller number of professional composers are benefitting from the prices available due to the costs of creating and selling libraries being spread across all the sectors.

The students, perhaps, represent the biggest segment in terms of numbers and turnover. They are also the people to whom the opportunity cost of buying a new library is greatest, since they have the least cash to throw around. Selling each student one more library than they actually would need, even if they were never to use it could therefor reap benefits to the whole market but it could also do harm to the individual student.

An unscrupulous salesman could exaggerate the likelihood of success in the industry that these students are likely to achieve and then encourage them to erroneously direct their spending towards libraries rather than classes for instance. The integrity and authority of a genuine educator or “community guide” is therefore essential to each student. Such an authority owes a duty of care to his students to be guiding them in their best interests without misleading them. If somebody were to mix the role of educator and salesperson and thus mis-sell libraries to students then the whole industry could be seen to be resting on quite an ethically rocky foundation.

The more sincere and beneficial the education, the more trust can be built and the more careful one would need to be to ensure that there was no conflict of interest creeping into the teaching.