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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May.06.2013 @ 5:08 AM
@chris since you didn't go to college, I can understand you not being well informed on the subject of student loans. But the short bit on Wikipedia makes for interesting reading: The interest rates on student loans is set by legislation, not market rates. So federally 'subsidized' student loans interest rates are higher than you could get for e.g. a home equity loan. There's a delightful inside-the-beltway term for this program: 'negative subsidy.'

So those kids delaying their entry into the real world are, in effect, being taxed to your benefit. SUCKERS.

PS there's a commercial student loan market that falls under the law that makes it an inescapable obligation -- bankruptcy doesn't get you out from other them -- that are offered at predatory rates. Banks are basically screwing unwary students out of their financial futures.

So I guess there's more than one reason to feel good about skipping college. All teaching is self-teaching anyway.

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