- Avid Cloud Collaboration
- Pro Tools Cloud Pricing update
- Is Avid’s culture changing?
- What is Avid doing about long term Pro Tools bugs?
- Why isn’t Avid designing and building a Pro Tools computer?
- Pro Tools 12.5.1 release information
- Current Pro Tools deals including extended Pro Tools subscription plans
- Are we going to see a single version Of Pro Tools software?
- New HD only software features In Pro Tools
- The future Of Pro Tools
Tony Cariddi Interview
It's Russ Hughes and we have a special podcast extra with my old buddy Tony Cariddi. Hello Tony.
Hey Russ, how are you doing?
People must think it's a soap opera Pro Tools Expert and Avid sometimes because we have these big love-fests, then we have a period of strangeness, then we have the love-fest back but it's love-fest and hopefully it's going to last forever now!
Things are good.
Avid Pro Tools Cloud Collaboration
That's probably a good place to start actually because we weren't entirely the most complimentary about your idea about the Cloud were we when we started and that probably didn't help the quieter times with Avid but talk to us about the Cloud because I think when we saw it, you gave us a sneak preview before the rest of the public saw it and we were pleasantly surprised.
Just because there's some scrutiny about what we're doing with things, that doesn't mean we're not going to talk to you so just to clear that up but the truth is that you weren't the only ones that were critical of that direction of what we were doing with the collaboration of our investment in that. It's something that some people have asked for. Obviously the market is asking for a lot of very specific things, which is typical. They ask for specific features like Freeze, like Offline Bounce, specific creation or midi-features and that stuff's all really important and that stuff is always on the road map, and little by little we get into those but occasionally, the company needs to also consider what they need to do to differentiate in the market and the truth is that there's a lot of creation apps out there, there's a lot of audio production apps out there and we feel like the collaboration piece that we introduced is really, really important and critical, and it's going to be significant moving forward so what happened was we shared some builds with you guys, in the hopes that you would get on it, kick the tyres and give us some feedback but, like a lot of people when they saw it and used it for the first time, there was a light that went off and it made a lot of sense and they got excited about it. It happened to me personally - when I started using it, I have a brother who lives in Maui for instance, and I was .........around with him and got so excited because it was almost like you got to jam with somebody. You had that kind of collaborative excitement going on but you could do it at your own leisure because obviously there's a big time difference from where I am on the east coast of the US and Maui so it was very, very exciting and I think the light went off for a lot of folks and I think you guys had a similar experience didn't you?
Yes, we did. You could hardly describe us as stooges, the Cloud idea but as soon as we all, myself, Mike, Dan and James sat down and saw the implementation, although I wouldn't use it all the time, although I collaborate in writing, nobody can argue that it's very well implemented, that you've worked very hard. I suppose there's a comment that comes out quite a lot I see when people are bitching about, I don't know if you know but some people bitch about Avid sometimes Tony, I don't know if you've seen that happening in the forums but it does happen from time to time, rarely but it does, and when people are bitching about you, one thing I've seen said quite a lot is even if Avid take longer to do things, they usually do it better than other people and I think that's what we felt. When we saw the Cloud, we thought "You know what? Even if it's not for us, you've got to give credit where credits due and the implementation is very, very smart".
I appreciate you saying that and I think it's true, the whole commit and bounce in place and freeze-track capability is a good example of that too. Obviously we're a little late to the party in delivering some of those features but I think you can say that the way they've been implemented in that you can kind of select which insert you want the freeze or commit to start at, the capability to commit or freeze auxilliaries as well, there's a lot of additional workflows that they thought through and we take a lot of pride in that.
Who Is Using The Pro Tools Cloud Collaboration Features?
So let's just talk about the vision of collaboration of the Cloud. Who do you think is going to use it in terms of...it would be easy to say everybody but that's not really the case. Were there specific groups of people you were thinking of when you came up with this?
Yes, the targets are broad in what the terms of the full vision of this is, the initial release is focused very much on the independents, primarily because the way this is implemented today, in that this is a Cloud-based solution, it's not going to be something that the Warner Bros and the Universals, say some of the bigger enterprises, are going to consider because of the super-strict security protocols that they have, they don't let any of their media leave the premises, so we knew that but we also wanted to get this out in the market and didn't want to wait to delay the release further so we focused on making sure that these workflows were designed and they fit for the independent musician, the independent producer, the independent mixer.
Since this has come out, what's the response been like? Let's first talk about the technology side of it. what's the response been like to the tech of it?
The response has been really great. There's a ton of folks using it. I think what we're hearing and this has been validated by the polls that you've done, is that people are excited about it, they're still trying to figure out how they're going to use it. There's been some criticisms of the plans that we released with. The plans, as you know, there's a free plan that everyone gets and they get about 500 mb of compressed storage which means that can be the equivalent of about 1.5 gb of a local session and then starting at $9.99 per month, they can get 10gb and then 60gb for $24.99. Then there's this other limitation of the number of projects you can use so while the initial reaction was positive and that the workflows were very well implemented, I think what we're seeing is that people are trying to see which size of this Cloud solution works for them. So what we're going to be doing now is looking at these plans and trying to offer something that fits better with what customers are asking for. We've heard 10 projects is too small because that's not even a whole record, we've heard "Why are there 2 brick walls? Why is it the project limit and the size limit?" so we're going to be adjusting those. The truth of the matter is this is a completely new business for us so we were starting small, we were starting with very simple basic plans and we wanted to monitor how people were taking advantage of them and giving ourselves some flexibility to loosen things up etc. because there's a bunch of costs associated with these Cloud services. We use Amazon Web Services which is super-robust and very, very secure and there's the plan old storage costs so as we can see from the costs like Dropbox, One Drive, all of these Cloud-based storage offerings, the prices are low just for plain storage but what actually costs more than just the plain, static storage is the upload and download transfers, and obviously you can imagine when you're using the Cloud collaboration bit, that there's a lot of transfers that are happening so that's all stuff that we have some flexibility there and we're going to be looking at modifying those in the future.
Avid Listening To Pro Tools Users
Good, so it sounds like you're listening. We have an expression, you probably don't in America. I used to work for a bank and it was called "The Listening Bank" and I think one of the criticisms in the past about it has been that you haven't always appeared to have been listening yet recently, especially with the Pro Tools 12 transition, 12 came out and was pretty featureless at the start but there seems to be a culture change. Is that a good observation?
There's a lot of changes. There's a huge transformation going on at Avid at general. One of those things is a major culture change. Some of this had to do with a change in leadership, some of it had to do with just executing on the vision and making sure that the whole company was aligned to that vision. Tim Carroll as you know came in as the Head of Product Management for the Audio Solutions and he's made a huge impact, in a really short time. So just in a matter of really Q4 of 2015, you saw a number of product releases, a number of great features that people were waiting for. You also saw some price actions, you also saw a lot of extra value that was added to the Pro-Tools Upgrade Plans so yes, I think it's fair to say that it is a culture change, there are a lot of changes going on at the company, probably a lot of stuff is stuff people don't even see, it's that whole iceberg thing, the public sees the top things that are public-facing but internally there's an enormous amount of alignment which is making the company a lot more efficient than ever before and much more responsive than ever before too.
Pro Tools Bugs And Reliability
Good, well talking about listening, I know that over this period also, looking at the forums and comments we've had as well on Pro-Tools Expert, there's been a question raised and I'm sure you've seen it yourselves, that there's some significant bugs, things like the Noise Blast issue, the graphics bug that has appeared in El Crapitan, that was an intentional mis-pronunciation. So one of the critiques has been, are you putting lots of features in now and not dealing with the rock-solid viability of a door that people have come to rely on. I've just seen a post on Facebook the other day by someone who was ripping their hair out because they were trying to do a relatively simple thing in Pro-Tools and so are features being sacrificed for reliability?
Definitely not. You always have to balance the new innovation you're going to bring out versus keeping the product stable and we've all heard directly from the public and also from your polls that people want the stability, the established user base privileges, they want reliability above and beyond almost anything else because it does what they want it to do except they want it just to not crash and they don't want their workflows to ever be interrupted like that, which is totally understandable. No, it's something that we always keep a high priority. In every release, there's always an effort for stability and bug-fixes. In fact we've started publishing a lot of what those stability improvements are. We've got 12-51 that's on the horizon here and that's going to support the brand new Pro-Tools dock. That's started shipping just a couple of days ago. That, in addition to supporting that new hardware control........, it's also going to be including a ton of bug fixes. So it's an ongoing effort and as new operating systems are introduced, as new plug-ins are introduced, it's always a battle to get the gremlins out because new ones are always popping up. We make it a very, very high priority.
Would Avid Design And Build A Pro Tools Computer?
I suppose some people would think "Why don't you just design and build your own computer to run Pro-Tools and be done with it?".
There's plenty of companies out there that make them. So first of all, we test computers really, really thoroughly on the Mac side. On the PC side, we offer some pretty broad guidelines of what's the recommended solutions. Of course we test specific workstations because of the nature of PCs, you can't even attempt to test a variety of machines. The truth is that even just testing the Mac stuff, they have a pretty focused offering, the testing is a huge, huge burden. It takes a ton of resources because we're really thorough about it. So on the PC side, why would we build our own? There are plenty of companies out there that take our guidelines and they have really amazing offerings.
Pro Tools 12.5.1 Release
You mentioned Pro Tools 12.5.1 is coming soon and obviously you can't be too specific about that, because obviously these things are often to the wire when you do a bug fix release.
Yes, they always try to pack in as many of the stability improvements as they can so I don't have the exact date on that yet.
Pro Tools Deals
You alluded earlier to this much more value-rich, let me say that, or aggressive pricing regime at Avid, which has seen lots of plug-ins that we used to pay for, being free, as part of plans now etc. which is great and I think you've got a pile again now don't you, that you're doing? Haven't you unlocked the Apogee Interfaces in a way? Is that correct? I think there's some kind of deal now? Let's hear this from the horse's mouth so we don't get this wrong.
Yes it's coming with 5 pureMix.net’s most popular tutorial videos and it's really focused on the stuff that people would want to know who are just getting started. That being said, these videos are also going to be available to anybody that has a current plan so you'll get an email with a unique link in there if you have a plan but available to everybody which is very, very cool. They do some great stuff. We're also now offering the Artist Mix for only $999 to anyone that's currently with Pro Tools or with Media Composer so that's a really great deal as well. Again, we've just started shipping the docks so if you wanted to pair up the Artist Mix with Pro-Tools Dock, they work fantastically together. The dock of course, or even just the free iPad app expands the functionality quite a bit because you can really dig into the tracks, there's a brand new channel mode in the Pro Tools Control iOS have which is really, really awesome. It has a lot of the function. It takes a lot of functionality from that S6-M40 touch-screen. Where a lot of that stuff was born from, it's not identical but it's very, very similar and it's really great because you can just dig into a certain track or a certain channel rather and you get to see all of the attributes to that channel, so you have a button for inserts, for input, for dynamics, EQ, you can dial up plug-ins, you get the plug-in controls right there and when you see the plug-in controls, that's when you really start thinking "Ah, that's where the dock would be really cool" because of instead of having to touch the screen. which is fine sometimes, you can grab a knob, which we all know is sometimes better than just putting your finger on glass. So those are a couple of the big promos that are happening right now, the dock shipping is really super-exciting and the other thing worth mentioning is that we extended the grace period for anybody who would have had a upgrade plan that would have expired in Q1, Q1 meaning January, February or March, so anybody who had an annual upgrade plan that expired, either forget to do the renewal or accidentally didn't renew because they didn't see the email, we extended that until 30 May...so anyone in January, February, March or April for that matter, they have until 30 May to get a renewal at the renewal price, which for Pro Tools again is only $99 or for HD it's only $399, so that they don't have to pay the higher reinstatement price. We're going to make sure that everybody knows about that. There's a lot of great stuff that's still coming, not just for collaboration but there's really exciting music creation features that are on the horizon too that you don't want to miss out on.
New Pro Tools HD Features
As a kind of wrap up and you're probably going to say "no comment" to me on this but there seems to be the feeling during this last 18-24 months, with Pro-Tools 12 in particular, all the unlocking of features etc. that you are gradually moving towards the realisation as a company that Pro-Tools as software is almost one product. Are we dreaming that? I'm sure you wouldn't be able to say it anyway but is there a "watch this space" on that as well because it does feel a little bit like that sometimes, that there will just be one version of Pro-Tools eventually and HD users will use the hardware and some people will use it natively.
I can't say that is necessarily the direction we're headed right now. There's still a lot of differentiation planned for HD versus Pro Tools but there was obviously a lot of balancing we had to do in terms of the number of ........, the number of tracks, offering things like VCAs and the metering, there's a lot of things we had to do for two reasons, one of them we wanted to make sure there was a really good inter-opt between Pro Tools and Pro Tools HD because there's a lot of customers that will move projects or sessions back and forth, so you need to make sure that works really well. So that requires you have parity on both sides. The other reason is just that the market has developed, had advanced and we found that we were keeping a lot of the features that people really wanted, just in HD, and we were kind of putting ourselves at a disadvantage, just because the market had evolved as such so we had to evolve. That being said, there's still a ton of differentiation and new innovation that's planned exclusively for HD and this time, I couldn't even predict that 1) That would definitely happen, that Pro Tools an Pro Tools HD would merge and 2) If that would happen, when it would happen. I don't really anticipate it at this point.
Single Version Of Pro Tools
if you were developing right now for exclusive HD features, there's probably not anytime soon the parity thing, it's probably more likely for HD users to watch this space for new features for them?
Absolutely, it's definitely not in the foreseeable future, if at all because we certainly are developing HD only features. We've said this before and I'm sure it's frustrating for the HD guys that are waiting for things that they've been asking for but a lot of the HD specific stuff does take extra time because it's bigger, sometimes it's dependent on hardware, there are things that just take more time to develop.
Final Words From Avid
As we wrap up, I think it's safe to say that you've been on the receiving end of a lot of it, that change is always painful for everybody and you have the subscription plans and all the other stuff, and during it, it was a pretty rough ride for Avid. I was watching your Facebook page and didn't envy being the person who had to read that as Avid, is there anything you'd like to leave as a kind of parting shot to those that have been on this journey with you and have, at times, felt somewhat frustrated by the whole thing? It's your opportunity. I'm giving you a ball straight to the bat Tony, go for it! I'll probably get told off but i don't care, fair's fair. We've given you enough hard rides in the past.
I appreciate it. Look we have been dedicated to this market for a long, long time, for over 20 years, and we've been dedicated to it so suffice to say, we've been very, very focused just on this for a very long time, we're not making phones, we're not making computers, we're not selling apps, we are focused on creating a product for the market, and that's the post-production market, the pro-mixing markets, the music creation market, it's the whole eco system that surrounds it. If we need to provide value to the market so that the markets happy and they spend money and we continue to thrive so we're 100% focused on that so for one, I'd say thank you to everybody who has stayed with us and stuck with us, we're sticking with you too. I would say too that part of the challenge is that our customers have faced is that a lot of them are getting paid less for their work, musicians are getting paid less for their work, the tools themselves are very inexpensive and very powerful, you just have this technology train that is pushing forward and it's taking no prisoners and there's a lot of collateral damage because technology as you know is super-disruptive and we all just have to navigate and keep on innovating and recreating ourselves to make sure that w'ere providing value. We can't just be the old company we were because we wouldn't be in business anymore and that transformation is something that takes commitment, it takes focus and it takes sacrifice, and we have sacrificed a lot. I'm sure you guys have heard some of the challenges we've gone through but as somebody that's been with the company, started with Digidesign back in 1996, I have a perspective. I watched Digidesign get purchased by Avid and then had a massive growth spurt and that it sustained for quite a long time, and then seeing the market change and seeing the market contract, and watching Avid have to re-think their direction and the strategy, and as somebody who's watched all of this and been a part of it for most of my entire adult life, I feel a huge amount of confidence that we're heading in the right direction and that we are going to be delivering the value that customers are going to want, they're going to continue to want and they're going to be happy with. I understand that it's been painful but these transitions are painful and I would just leave with saying that we are 100% committed to making Pro-Tools successful, making our customers successful, and really the whole Avid eco system, making all of that work.
Tony, it's been a pleasure talking to you again, despite what people say, we love it when Pro-Tools grows and develops and outside of Avid, I think we're the biggest community of Pro-Tools users and we've taken 8 years to come and develop this community and support them, and I'm thrilled by the team that runs it now and, as I say, on a day to day basis, it's not really me, it's other people. I get slightly amused when people go into forums and say how terrible I am and i think "When did you last visit the blog as I've run it for a long time".
You guys are really important to us. You're right, the community that you have is massive and influential and it helps as a good feedback mechanism for us, it's not always the stuff we want to hear but you know, that's part of life. It's all good and we really appreciate your support and thanks to everybody that listens to the blog.
Well, on that, let's raise a glass to both parties and success to everybody. Here's to Pro-Tools. Cheers.