This week thousands of Cakewalk customers were told that development was ending on their beloved DAW, Sonar. Gibson, the owner of Cakewalk, said this;
"Gibson Brands announced today that it is ceasing active development and production of Cakewalk branded products. The decision was made to better align with the company’s acquisition strategy that is heavily focused on growth in the global consumer electronics audio business under the Philips brand.
Cakewalk has been an industry leader in music software for over 25 years by fusing cutting-edge technology with creative approaches to tools that create, edit, mix, and publish music for professional and amateur musicians. Gibson Brands acquired Cakewalk in 2013.
Gibson Brands, a growing company in the music and sound industries, was founded in 1894 and is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Gibson Brands is a global leader in musical instruments, consumer electronics, and professional audio, and is dedicated to bringing the finest experiences to consumers by offering exceptional products with world-recognized brands."
I'm not about to give you my view on the whole issue on what Gibson have done; there are endless posts on social media by those analysing the decision, you don't need me to do it as well. We can all agree that there are lots of people who no longer have a job, that's never good news. Losing your favourite DAW is bad news, losing your job is worse. We send out best wishes to all those who lost their jobs this week and to their families.
In the first part of this article, I want to talk to the existing Cakewalk users and give some advice as you consider the future.
Advice For Cakewalk Sonar Users
Here are my five pieces of advice I would give to Cakewalk Sonar users right now.
- Don't Panic
Your software should not stop working, in fact, you could probably use the current version for several years to come.
- Download The Latest Version Of Cakewalk
Make sure you download all the latest versions of the installers for the software you have been using and then put them safe, keep a back-up too.
- Consider Your Next Move
While you are wondering what your next DAW may be, don't make a quick decision. Some brands will be trying to tempt you to their DAW, but take the opportunity to explore the market. Even though you are a Cakewalk user, there will be differences within that tribe. Some of you will be songwriters using a lot of virtual instruments; other users may have been using Sonar as a tape machine, and some may have been using it in the studio and live. Just those differences could determine three possible DAW choices. As we have always said on Pro Tools Expert, the best DAW is the one that works best for you. So download the demos and see which one you click with.
- Create A Moving Workflow
What I mean by this is that you may have to move some of your existing projects to a new DAW. One great piece of news is that Sonar supports exporting projects as OMFs. So I suggest you read this knowledge-base article to explain how you can move a Cakewalk Sonar session to a DAW that supports OMF, this includes Pro Tools and several other DAWs.
- Take You Time
I know the news of your favourite DAW ending development is bad news, but see this as an opportunity to learn something new, as I said in point 1, don't panic, you can continue to use Cakewalk Sonar for a long time before you have to consider your next step. There are plenty of getting started tutorials made by us on Pro Tools, Studio One and Logic Pro, watch them and see which DAW most resonates with your style of working.
Advice To All DAW Users
The second part of this article I want to talk to everyone else who uses software to make music.
I saw a comment on Facebook the other day by someone who had posted the Cakewalk news with the comment 'Thank God we use Pro Tools.'
I knew what they mean by this comment, they weren't callous but counting their blessings, but just as with any failure, especially in business, allowing yourself to believe that any company is 100% secure is unwise.
I'm not suggesting that Avid is about to do the same thing as Gibson, but these are challenging business conditions and many brands are struggling to make money in this industry, even iconic brands. Avid has had its fair share of troubles in the last few years as they try and transition their business to meet the needs of modern audio and video production. Us Brits have seen our fair share of iconic brands go down overnight from high street fashion brands to banks - no one is immune to business failure.
The critical lesson all of us should learn from the Cakewalk closure is don't rely on one platform. We all want to work in a streamlined fashion and keep our workflow lean, but in reality just as relying on one client is insane, depending on one piece of software is too. Now some of you will have little choice as you work in studios or post house that have workflows that are built around Pro Tools. I appreciate that, but you can still learn a second DAW and if nothing else it makes you more flexible and in some cases more attractive to would-be hirers. In the current employment conditions that is a wise move. Post users might consider learning Nuendo or DaVinci Resolve 14 With Fairlight Audio.
If your workflows are less dependant on one piece of software then I suggest, like me, you acquaint yourself with at least two DAWs. I use Pro Tools and Studio One, I have a passing acquaintance with Logic and Reaper.
A Job For Life?
I think we live in a world where we need to be bilingual when it comes to software; this applies to video editors, photographers and any other person who depends on software for their work. The more adaptable and agile we become the more we increase our opportunities, and the less we leave ourselves exposed should the worst happen, which if we take this approach isn't the worst that can happen.
Perhaps you are thinking, doesn't that make one a jack of all trades and master of none? In a different era maybe, but let's remember that this is a term that has origins in Elizabethan English and was allegedly used of William Shakespeare, an actor-turned-playwright. The days of having one job and that job for life is over for most people; I wrote about this in some detail in my article entitled 'Why No One Should Choose Pro Tools As The Single Solution For Their Music Studio', little did I know that weeks later the Cakewalk news would break.
Thankfully it seems that many people are taking a multi-DAW approach, you can see from our survey 'Do You Use Multiple DAWs?' that only about 10% use just one DAW. If you are one of the 10%, then start learning a second one now.
I Want To Live Forever!
Will your favourite DAW be here forever? I think the words Opcode, Emagic for Windows, and Cakewalk to name three, should tell you the answer.
We should all wish Cakewalk users well as they consider their next move, but looking on and thinking it will never happen to us is not smart, prepare just in case our DAW is the next one.