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Viewing topic "Your Instrument Has A Shelf Life. The Truth About DAWs"

Posted on: September 11, 2022 @ 08:32 AM
Total Posts:  364
Joined  12-17-2013
status: Enthusiast

For some musicians, producers, and DJs the DAW is their musical instrument. Their performance is created (constructed) inside the DAW.  Their sounds originate within the DAW.

Their DAW performance is created using mouse clicks, and other computer gestures. The DAW is the musical instrument. The DAW’s menus, dialog boxes, popups and drop downs are features of their musical instrument.  Yes in 2022 for many all around the world the DAW is a musical instrument, and one performs on it using mouse pointers, track balls, touch screens and computer gestures.

The problem is DAW versions have a retail and commercial shelf life and viability.  Violins, Saxophones, Drums, Pianos, Organs, Flutes, Harps, Synthesizers can all be played as long as they are maintained in working order.  There are some musicians that own and play instruments that are over a hundred years old.  There are famous violins going back to the 19th century and can still be heard and played.  Pipe organs, pianos, over a hundred years old can still be played.  Original Moog and DX7 synths still around.

But if my instrument of choice was Cubase 4.0, Logic 2, or Cakewalk 3, etc good luck trying to play it in 2022.  One could argue that as long as you keep the computer that your original DAW runs on in good working order your DAW will still work.  But the problem with that theory is the computer that the DAW runs on was designed to run and does run other software.  In order to maintain the viability of that other software the owner has to constantly update that software and the operating system that software depends on.  Eventually this renders the DAW inoperable.  So the owner of the DAW has to try to update the DAW too.

Oh no!  The plugins, menus, dialog boxes, pop-ups, colors, location of things in the DAW are all part of the DAW as a musical instrument, and the new DAW upgrade moves things around, takes things out, reorganizes look and feel, gets rid of some plugins and adds new better plugins, adds new features to existing features, changes the name of parameters etc.  And the upgrade is sold as an improvement.

That’s kind a like changing the number of valves or pads on a saxophone, or the number of strings and bridges on the violin.  Or changing the positions of the pedals or drawbars on an organ. 

But DAW manufacturers change the interface to the DAW with virtually any and every update. As the DAW gets updated it becomes incompatible with the old computer and previous versions of itself.  And the musical performance concepts on the DAW change in subtle and in some cases dramatic ways.

The original computer that the original DAW was installed on becomes obsolete.  Not because it doesn’t work any more, but because the operating system vendor, and software vendors have moved on.  They need to make new products to sell to continue the money coming in.  It doesn’t matter that the Mac you spent two or three thousand dollars on is still working fine.  You’ll have to go out and buy a new one to run the most current version of the DAW.

Try buying an installing Cubase 4.0, 5.0, 6.0, etc today on a new computer.  If your instrument was Cubase 5 and something happened to the computer that Cubase 5 ran on.  Try getting on or to find a new version of Cubase 5 and try getting the whole thing running with support from Steinberg.  Good luck!

I’ll be able to play my Saxophone, Trumpet, Flute, B3 Organ, Motif Synthesizer for decades to come.  But my Cubase 6 had a shelf life.  That instrument’s time is already expired.  If I’m a Cubase 6 player or producer I’m SH#T out of luck.

Every DAW version has a relatively short shelf life.  This is because the operating system that the DAW runs on is constantly being updated.  The software that runs on the same computer that the DAW runs on is constantly being updated. The 3rd party plugins and VSTs are constantly being updated.  All so the vendors can keep making money.  This upgrade hustle puts a hard deadline and shelf life on every DAW version.  And make no mistake about for some musicians, producers, and DJs, each DAW version is its own instrument.

The truth about DAWs is every version is a temporary instrument with a shelf life of 2-5 years at most.  After that, DAW musicians will have to purchase and learn a new DAW instrument.  Although it will in most cases be similar, it will be different than the instrument they’ve already put so much time and energy into.

The DAW hustle works fine for DAW vendors and Plugin vendors because they need to sell new DAWs every day.  But the DAW hustle is a raw deal for musicians who often put years , sometimes decades into honing their skills on their instrument and building an intimate relationship with their instrument.

For those musicians, producers, DJ’s that see the DAW and its Plugins as their musical instrument.  The sad reality is they are among the first generation of musicians who musical instruments have limited shelf life, will suffer obsolescence within 2-5 years, and will eventually evaporate into thin air.

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