Read this first paragraph very carefully, perhaps twice - Pro Tools has the reputation as industry standard because Digidesign effectively invented the modern DAW and changed recording forever. Were it not for the vision and innovative expertise of founders Evan Brooks and Peter Gotcher we may not have ever seen the paradigm shift in audio production we have in the last 30 years.
Fast forward to Pro Tools 12.2.....
Today we saw another attempt by Avid to limit the enormous amount of self-inflicted damage to the reputation of Pro Tools and Avid. It's become an all too regular occurrence seeing announcements, retractions, apologies, promises (coming soon), and other clumsy attempts to package Pro Tools as an innovative 21st century DAW. Today it felt less like Avid Everywhere, and more like Avid Everything, it brought to mind one of those market traders who says "you not only get the TV, you get a video, a toaster, a DVD, a watch... but hang on I'm also throwing in a set of towels."
You can't blame Avid for trying, so many promises made in the name of Avid Everywhere, which to date have not come to pass; no track freeze, no sharing, no collaboration and no archiving. All stuff that's either already been in every DAW on the planet for a very, very long time or stuff most Pro Tools users don't give a rat's ass about anyway. Selling 'tons of stability improvements' as a feature is ridiculous, stability should come as standard, anyone selling it as a feature with a straight face must have nerves of steel.
So Avid are left in an all too familiar damage limitation scenario of having to release HD features to all Pro Tools users or throw in more and more plug-ins as part of the deal. We've also seen the prices drop at least twice in the last few months, the plans rewritten on support, the prices adjusted again and again. As one person commented on social media today "it's worth holding out to see how much more they will concede." It does make one wonder where Avid will go when they run out of features to unlock and plug-ins to give away, perhaps a free Avid S6 Console by December for anyone signing up for a 1 year plan?
But the elephant remains in the room, or perhaps in this case the skunk is still definitely on the table - Avid have failed to deliver all the promised Avid Everywhere features.
It's not gone unnoticed by investors either, had the stock been a piano it would have been smashed to pieces in its recent drop. Not only have they failed to deliver on the Avid Everywhere technologies in Pro Tools they have also done very little to innovate Pro Tools during this hiatus and keep Pro Tools even close to the competition. Speaking of the competition they have realised there's a lot of disaffected Pro Tools users and are gunning hard to win them over to their 'track freezing, unlimited, no rental, stable' DAWs.
As we said in the article How Many Of The Top 25 Pro Tools Ideascale Ideas Appear In Pro Tools 12, only one - Track Freeze is in the list and that hasn't been delivered yet! None of the other 24 most requested features from the user base, have made their way into Pro Tools 12. Features like Folders in the Clip List, Save/Load Plug-in Chains, Opening more than one session at the same time, we could go on but check out the list here. We find it disingeneous that in the Webinar last night, Avid could point us to the Ideascale as a way of us feeding back our needs and for them to pretty well ignore them. Avid say that they are listening to us, but it doesn't look like it from where we are standing.
Look at the Advanced Metering option which Avid have given to Pro Tools Vanilla users. Where is the innovation there? They released all these additional metering options in Pro Tools 11 including the BBC PPMs which those of us in the UK have wanted forever, just at the point the new BS1770 loudness workflows like ATSC A/85 and EBU R128 were starting to come into broadcast workflows. Where is the loudness metering that Avid promised would come in a podcast interview with us after the launch of Pro Tools 11? Where is even that small piece of innovation? We could go on and on....
Sure, a lot of Pro Tools users have more stuff than they had 24 hours ago, but Avid's ability to continue to do this becomes less possible with each 'amazing announcement.' Furthermore each time this happens Avid devalue the investment in Pro Tools HD, either for those who already own it or those considering investing in it just to get the 'HD only' features. Already social media is buzzing with comments about people 'downgrading to Vanilla' underlining that many felt it necessary to invest in HD for software features
There's also been some comments about who was in the webinar on social media, Tom, Tim and Tony. We know them all and agree they are all super nice guys and smart too. We are glad they work at Avid, but them being nice or smart is irrelevant, this isn't an episode of 'Take Me Out' They work incredibly hard to try and deliver on the plans and policies given to them. So today isn't about them, it is about Avid's vision and direction, Avid's ability to execute promises in a reasonable and timely manner and to show Pro Tools users they are as valued as other Avid customers.
Take a little time reading the comments of faithful Pro Tools users and you'll see the lines "I'm hoping', 'perhaps', 'we might find out more when...' There is a genuine hardcore of customers who really want it to be better, of course we do we've invested decades of our lives and a lot of money in Pro Tools. Many of us won't stop using Pro Tools, we will simply stop believing in Avid and investing in them. The less we invest, the less money they have to put into R&D, which brings us full circle.
Remember where we started? Innovation; which seems to be the only thing that Pro Tools users don't get much of anymore.
But don't worry 'it's coming soon!'