Following on from The opinion piece that Russ wrote asking One Pro Tools To Rule Them All - Is It Time For Avid To Do This? it would be a great idea, but maybe the merger of all the features into one version of Pro Tools would be a bridge too far in terms of pricing and revenue? So perhaps the solution is In-App Purchases using the Avid Marketplace to enable users to cherry-pick the features and are relevant to them?
In writing my thoughts about Avid Cloud Collaboration 1 Year On, I highlighted that in the radio sector budgets are extremely tight with a lot of single operator production companies and freelance producers researching, recording, editing and mixing their programmes Avid have made the cost of entry and ownership of Pro Tools more expensive over the years.
Firstly when Avid unlocked the hardware from the software with Pro Tool 9, buying into Pro Tools became more expensive. Pro Tools Express helped for a time, but now with Pro Tools 12 not only is the cost of Pro tools Native much higher but the need to maintain an upgrade plan has to be considered.
What about having a set of tiered options and then also offer features as options as in-app purchases using the Avid Marketplace, which is accessible from within Pro Tools. After all the Pro Tools installer has been the same for quite a while now. Effectively the iLok license unlocks certain features. You already install the same software, it's just that if you have a Pro Tools HD license that unlocks the additional features, like Surround tracks, Advanced Automation and so on.As Russ discussed in his article One Pro Tools To Rule Them All - Is It Time For Avid To Do This? Avid absolutely should make the HD hardware an option that any Pro Tools user can buy into as required, not just HD software owners. Afer all with the rolling in of so many of the HD only features, we are nearly there already.
As Russ proposed, it would be brilliant if we could also have a single unified version of Pro Tools but if Avid were going to adopt that I cannot see them selling the unified version at the same price as Pro Tools Native is currently. Take a look at the current pricing. Pro Tools 12 Native as a perpetual license is $599 whereas Pro Tools HD Standalone Software is $2499. If you go for a rental plan then Pro Tools 12 Native is $24.92 per month with a one-year agreement whereas Pro Tools HD Standalone is $83.25 per month with the same one-year agreement. So the Native perpetual license is around a quarter of the HD licence and the Native rental is just under one-third of the HD standalone rental price.
As much I would like to see Avid offer one unified software product, if they did this, all I can see happening is the price of this unified Pro Tools software would be a lot closer to the price of the HD Software perhaps say $1500. This would have the huge side effect of increasing the entry point into Pro Tools, which cannot be a good thing.
What about a price for Pro Tools Basic of say $199 added into the range of Pro Tools software options, which has a feature set that looks like more like the old Pro Tools LE or Pro Tools Express with a basic set of features, a limited number of tracks, etc and then use in-app purchases to buy the additional features you need. The product map, options and features could look something like this...
|Feature||Pro Tools First||Pro Tools Basic||Pro Tools Intermediate||Pro Tools Complete||Available as an Optional Extra Through The Avid Marketplace|
|Maximum Audio Track Count||16 - mono or stereo||16 - mono or stereo||128 - mono or stereo||256 - mono or stereo||yes|
|Maximum Number Of Inputs||4||8||32||192||yes|
|Maximum number of Instrument Tracks||16||32||512||512||yes|
|Maximum number of MIDI Tracks||16||32||512||512||yes|
|Maximum number of Auxilary Tracks||16||32||128||512||yes|
|Maximum number of Video Tracks||0||0||2||64||yes|
|Maximum Supported Sample Rate||96kHz||96kHz||192 kHz||192 kHz|
|Basic recording and Editing features||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Track Freeze, Commit and Bounce||yes||yes||yes|
|Clip FX||Playback only||Playback only||Apply, Edit & Play||yes|
|AAF/OMF/MXF file interchange||yes||yes||yes|
|Full Import Session Data||yes||yes||yes|
|Field Recorder Workflow||yes||yes|
|Avid Video Engine||yes||yes||yes|
|Integrated Dolby Atmos workflows||yes||yes|
|Advanced Metering with Gain Reduction||yes||yes||yes|
|Extended RAM Cache||yes||yes||yes|
|Track Punch and Destructive Punch||yes||yes|
|Fit To Marks||yes||yes|
|Back and Play||yes||yes|
|Advanced Automation - Punch Capture||yes||yes|
|Advanced Automation - Write on stop||yes||yes|
|Advanced Automation - Write to all enabled||yes||yes|
|Advanced Automation - Automatch||yes||yes|
|Advanced Automation - Preview||yes||yes|
This kind of model is not unheard of in the DAW world, take a look at the Presonus business model. They have the equivalent of Pro tools First with Studio One Prime, then a middle option in Studio One Artist and the equivalent of Pro Tools Complete with Studio One Professional.
Add-ons - Rent Or Buy - You Decide
The add-on options I propose should be available either as perpetual license option or as a rental option. For example, this could mean if as a Pro Tools Basic owner if you needed surround mixing to finish a project, you could rent the Surround Mixing option for one month, then when the job is finished drop back to Pro Tools Basic again. With the integration of the Avid Marketplace and the ability to buy or rent plug-ins and handle it all within Pro Tools without having to leave or quit Pro Tools, these add-on features could also work in the same way.
What To Do About The Upgrade Plans?
Avid should change the upgrade and support plan options to match this model. At the moment it is possible to separate the upgrade, additional plug-ins and support plans fro Pro Tools Native users but Pro Tools HD users are forced to buy into the additional plug-ins and Expert Plus support whether they like it or not so I would propose a 3 tier upgrade support plan structure, whether you own HD or not.
- Pro Tools Upgrade Plan - $99 per year for any version of Pro Tools and combination of add-ons
- Pro Tools Plug Annual Basic Plug-in Pack (17 Plug-ins) And Basic Support Plan - $99 per year
- Pro Tools Annual Expert Plus Support plan - $99 per year
- Pro Tools Extended Plug-in Pack (8 Plug-ins) - $99 per year
This would enable users to choose the features and services that suit them. I would argue that most HD users do not need the Expert Plus support plan we are forced to buy into. This way we can choose whether to have the plug-in packs or not or whether to have the Expert Plus support plan so a Pro Tools Basic user could choose to have the upgrade plan and the Expert Plus support plan but not bother with the plug-in packs because they don't need them.