April 30, 2013

The Room In The Elephant...

by Chris Randall

Audio Damage is a month in to its 9th year of operation, and throughout the history of the company, there are some constants. I regularly receive letters that essentially say "your products look great, but no demo = no purchase. Sorry." These have come about once a week, pretty regularly, since the company's inception. There is no question in my mind that we lose sales because of our No Demo policy. However, mathematically speaking, we'd also lose sales by having demos. (The entire point of a demo to see if you like it; having a demo doesn't automatically mean having a purchase from the person that downloaded the demo.)

There are a lot of forum posts from various points of view about our policy, mostly on KvR but elsewhere as well. I look back with amusement at posts on OSX Audio and KvR from c. 2003 or so where people often would say "there's no way this company will stay in business without demos." Those don't occur any more, of course. There were many discussions about why we do this, with most people deciding it was an anti-piracy tactic, which it is not. Whether or not we have demos has had zero effect on piracy, and we never thought it would.

Which brings me to the real point of this post. The following letter, which I quote verbatim, leaving out only the author's name, has become increasingly common in the last couple years; just this weekend I received three letters that were variations on this theme. This one came this morning:

Hey guys,

I'm a huge fan of your plugins and actually got to check em out a pirated version of your software (I am a student so please excuse the lengths I go to to try out what's good before buying). Anyways, I really love your stuff and was wondering if I could maybe make my own bundle with you guys? I know it's sort of a long shot but I'm on a student budget and I'm trying to go by any means to get legitimate software, so I figure it wouldn't hurt to ask. I was wondering if I could get Kombinat Dva, Discord 3, Eos, and Dubstation. I've only tried Dubstation and Kombinat but the others seem amazing as well. Please let me know if there is any way something can be arranged. If not, I very well understand. Thank you so much for your time. Take care.

Now, using cracked software is like masturbation. 90% of the people do it, and the other 10% lie about it. I'm fully aware of this. We've always just accepted it as a fact of nature. I frequently have to do support with people that have been using a cracked older version of a plug (e.g. BigSeq 1, Discord 1.5, the original Kombinat) and then they actually buy a current version and discover their presets don't work, or they're Logic users and the AU cache chokes on the new version. But this sort of letter is a New Thing, and I'm never sure how to respond.

On the one hand, I'll usually give people deals if they're reasonable. And I always want to turn pirate customers in to paying customers. On the other, well, you know. It's a hard pill to swallow.



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Apr.30.2013 @ 11:53 AM
You know, when I was in poverty, I had a massive amount of pirated software. Its pretty easy to justify not paying for it when its a hobby, and you don't know how your going to be able to scrape together enough money next loaf of bread. Priorities.

I don't have to worry about that anymore, and now I try to pay for all my software. I have a strict policy regarding cracks on my computer. I have one that I keep because the license costs more than $100, its too niche for me to see myself using regularly, and the demo period has expired. If something else comes along that fits that criteria that I want to spend more time with, I will uninstall the first crack and choose whether or not I want to buy it.

If I hadn't been using all those cracks before, I probably wouldn't have bought all the software I have now. I am definitely of the pirate customer turned paying customer camp. I don't have much patience for people with disposable income who use cracks as a matter of course. Poor, student, etc, I understand where they are coming from.

Apr.30.2013 @ 11:55 AM
Chris Randall
@noisetheorem: I should have said "have done it," instead of "do it." I may edit that. I don't either, but I have done it in the past. Well, I take that back. I recently cracked SampleRobot, but that's abandonware, so...


Apr.30.2013 @ 11:56 AM
I figure if your attitude is that 90% - 10% thing, then whether or not the dude originally pirated your software is irrelevant. Either you want to do a "pick your bundle" promotion or you don't.
Otherwise it's an email that says "$49 is a great deal for one, $147 is a great deal for three. It would be a pain in the ass to set up custom bundles, which our already low prices cannot support. Your legitimization of your AD plugs would support this kind of thing in the future, so I hope you do the right thing."

Apr.30.2013 @ 12:14 PM
Chris Randall
Yeah, MrBiggs has the right of it. I'll be honest: if I find someone sharing our shit I come down on them like a ton of fucking bricks, and if I find someone that is a commercial artist talking about using cracks (e.g. YACHT, Swedish House Mafia) I go a bit insane, as you all know. But for the average Joe, it's a bad idea to say it to my face, as people have found out, but on the whole, I don't lose any sleep over it.


Apr.30.2013 @ 12:20 PM
Using Warez is like Fight Club. The first rule is you don't talk about Fight Club.

"I'm a poor student" doesn't wash with me as an argument. i live in Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa, and the town is almost completely recession-proof because the University employs so many people and students spend so much money.

Students regularly drop $50 - $100 on a night of drinking and bad behavior, a meal for two at a decent restaurant is $50-$100, the basic cable bill with Internet is $150/month ... it's about priorities. Skip the bro time, skip a night out with a girl who isn't that into you. Music Software will never dump you, get you arrested, or give you a hangover.

Apr.30.2013 @ 12:23 PM
Fuck that... your plugs are cheap enough... For instance BS2... name something that comes close with the same features for under $99... EOS shits on reverbs 20 times its cost... if they are first world starving, they can get em off kvr...

Just the other day a friend was asking me about what I used to make a tune... i pointed him to the $180 sample library and panstation... guess which one he was able to afford and purchased...

In the end though its your call...

Apr.30.2013 @ 12:30 PM
Maybe you can add the annoying nagware speech uTonic has on the demo : ) That thing is a pisser : )

Apr.30.2013 @ 12:35 PM
I'm not keen on how quickly this person goes from begging for forgiveness to asking for a huge favor. If there's a lesson to be learned, it's that you shouldn't expect a reward for delinquent behavior.

They ARE willing to spend *some* money, though. And some good will may likely inspire return purchases. I vote one discount, one ONE of the two pirated plugs.

Apr.30.2013 @ 1:01 PM
Personally, since I've bought nearly the entire AD catalog, almost all at full list price, I think i deserve more than some kid who admitted to stealing software and then asked for a discount.

Fact is, for every plugin AD makes, you can find a free plugin that does almost the same thing. It might not sound as good or look as pretty, but you can download enough free software legitmately that it seems ridiculous to claim that being 'poor' is keeping you from making music.

In fact, you might learn something from using all that freeware.

Apr.30.2013 @ 1:09 PM
john truckosaur
The lesson I learned from freeware is "I will gladly pay someone money to do this correctly." :)

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