Native Instruments is now part of Soundwide + freebies 🎁
Today from the owner of Plug-in Alliance:
Yes, we have SOLD Plugin Alliance & Brainworx! Because we wanted to www.joinsoundwide.com! Hear me out though...
PRIVATE PRESS RELEASE - April 12, 2022
Today I am releasing this official statement on behalf of our little family, as we have some really exciting news to share! My wife Marina and I have been the 100% owners of Brainworx & Plugin Alliance for the last 10 years - since we got married on June 9, 2012. I initially ran Brainworx as a Rock’n’Roll recording studio and launched the first plugin out of that creative space some 15 years ago, before I even knew Marina. And I remember that when I met her, she told me: “So, you are in the music biz. That’s cool! Also, I don’t care if a guy makes a lot of money as I earn my own money, but I hope you make enough so I at least don’t have to pay your bills!?” Gotta love a straight woman!
I told her I did ok financially… which was true that year… for the first time in a long time though. After I had just gone through some really rough years, with a toxic 1st business partner in a previous (failed) business, lots of family drama, etc. But BX was off to a great start with the first plugins I designed since 2007, and then in 2011 we registered a US company called Plugin Alliance… from Germany, through a website service in Delaware called Inc Plan.
The PA website went live January 2nd, 2012, just over 10 years ago. PA & BX have teamed up with more than 40 companies in the past 15 years, among them many of the most beloved pro audio companies in the world. Our first BX plugin came out in 2006 already (bx_digital), which was voted "#1 Best Plugin of the Decade" afterwards.
In the following 15 years, and together with our 40+amazing partner companies, we have created one of the most exciting and most successful pro audio platforms out there, and I was always proud of the fact that we haven’t just built another "online store” - but a real producer platform with a unified user experience. One mutual Installation Manager for 150 products from 40+ brands! One DRM & copy protection, plus our famous / infamous marketing and shopping experience for all the products, bundles, subscriptions, etc.
BX already had a few plugins out before PA was even born in 2012, and we had exactly 9,800 users before PA went live. In the last 10 years we have organically (!) grown this initial user base to more than 1 MILLION PA USER ACCOUNTS. That’s a user account growth of roughly 111x (or 11100% = eleven thousand percent!) - in just over 10 years.
In the same time our team has grown from “2 guys & a student programmer” to 65 full time employees in Germany, California and Florida. And what an amazing team we have built over the last 15 years! We may not have been the biggest audio company in the world, but you’d be hard pressed to find better experts than our people in our core fields of competence.
The part that I am proud of the most is that during all the time of their existence PA and BX have never had a financial partner, a credit line or any form of debt! We have bootstrapped the PA platform with great products by amazing brands and partners, and with creative, industry-leading marketing and sales ideas. We started with literally EUR 500. Not EUR 500k… it was EUR 500 ($600).
Fun fact: There are currently about 60 different email addresses from one of our biggest competitors subscribed to our marketing email newsletter. Not even kidding…! It’s fair to say that at first the pro audio world simply took notice of PA… until many companies and deciders in our industry started “following” our PABX business and my personal social media activities over the last 10 years.
But it wasn’t just our platform that has grown and changed. The audio creation world has changed quite a bit in the last couple of years, especially in the last 2 years since COVID. Millions of new, young creatives & creators have started to use plugins and computers. They are recording audio podcasts, creating YouTube videos and TikTok clips, making Hip Hop beats or are recording heavy metal demos - at home! Connected with their friends and fans over the internet. In real-time if needed!
The creative space has been moved into the cloud in the past few years. A few new and upcoming audio companies have activated a new, younger group of creatives, have excited them for music creation and technology, in totally new ways! Laptops, iPad and iPhones... plus a set of headphones and some kick-***** software - that’s the entry-level music studio in 2022.
New creatives do not typically spend thousands of Dollars on hardware equipment and software when they start, but they want to have access to large collections of inspirational software, samples & services. Software as a service and subscriptions (seen by many aging, established professional producers as some form of evil) are a beloved reality for Millions of up and coming creatives & creators! For a few bucks per month you can use everything you need, and once your new song is on Spotify and Apple Music, who cares about "owning" all the tools and sounds...?! Yet, PABX has been catering to BOTH user groups equally over the last 3 years. Subscribers and collectors. Probably better than any other company has done this so far!
While our PA user base has grown… it has also been aging over the last few years! Average prices for individual plugins have been shrinking. Still our revenue and user base have been growing like crazy. We have seen this trend coming for a while, and we have been working on new products and even cloud-based services in the background for years now. We have literally re-invested Millions of Dollars in the last 3 years into the future and growth of our PABX platform.
You may have seen the recent launch of our “intelligent” mastering.studio web service. Essentially, it is a cloud-based automated music mastering solution, designed to introduce new and young creatives to the Plugin Alliance universe. In the next few days we will even add a subscription based Music Distribution Service to this platform! Think DISTROKID. Our users will be able to master their music on our website, then upload it to Apple Music, Spotify and every other relevant international streaming platform incl. YouTube and TikTok. All through our platform, and with just a few clicks!
We are also about to launch a cloud-based sample player in May, with intelligently tagged content/samples and integrated PABX partner effects.
Finally, we are working on a desktop-based professional Mastering Audio Workstation with cloud-integration for online music distribution!
That sounds expensive?! You bet! These recent developments have consumed a lot of resources, both in terms of team hours and budget. We have hired more and more product managers, developers, marketing teams, etc., and we are even working with external agencies on new website technology, subscription technology, installation manager apps, data systems etc.
All this is happening to ensure that PABX and our music products will stay relevant for many years to come! After all, we have created some modern day classics together with our partners!
WHERE IS THIS ALL GOING?
The past 2 years have seen big investments in our music tech space! Big PE (Private Equity) firms and established strategic investors have realized that our business and a few similar businesses sit right on the crossover of technology, music, hobby - and the new jobs of modern, young audio professionals. Several Billion(!) US Dollars are being invested into audio/tech start-ups and established pro-audio brands right now. Some of these moves have been well communicated, others happen(ed) in the background.
What does that mean for PABX - and for our family?
I have been approached by various investors and strategics over the past 3 years. Companies and individuals wanted to invest in PABX, merge with our companies, sell their business to PABX, or simply take over our businesses. We have literally seen it all in the past few years. It was very flattering, and a bit overwhelming at times!
The people who talked to me and worked with me in the last 2 years know what I am talking about. I would like to use this post to say THANK YOU sincerely to all of you, even if we didn’t end up working together in the end. You have helped me in various ways to understand what was best for my family and my companies in ways that you may or may not realize. You know who you are, and I am seriously grateful for all your input.
At some point maybe 2 years ago we had realized that while we were successful, innovative, and always willing to hustle, PABX would not be able to compete with (quite literally) all the money in the world. We cannot build everything that all the other companies around us are “building or buying” - with teams that are often ten times bigger than ours - and investors’ pockets that are way deeper than our personal ones. Again, there was NEVER a financial partner or credit line in the history of PABX!
But... in spring 2021 a well-established PE firm called Francisco Partners (FP) knocked on our doors. They had invested in Berlin-based NATIVE INSTRUMENTS (who are all about synths & sounds & samples, and hardware keyboards, DJ equipment, beatmaker equipment etc.) and Boston-based IZOTOPE, who are experts in artificial-intelligence infused audio technology. That was literally a BIG DEAL in our industry, and you may have heard about this one already.
FP intends to create the world’s largest and most Komplete (pun intended) ”Music Creation Group” around these 2 established star companies in our space - and late last year they offered me that PABX could join this new "Über-Alliance" - as they saw a great fit for the mutual portfolios and our combined talent!
The idea was to form THE new Supergroup of Music Creation Companies. To build THE platform for the audio creatives & creators around the globe. PABX was going to deliver the goods in the plugin domain, with a strong focus on analog-modeled mixing and mastering plugins, plus the whole catalog of the mighty MEGA bundle and our new online services. The MEGA Bundle with all of its plugins and services would remain to be a staple of the future Supergroup offering.
Of course the PABX know-how, creativity and speed in marketing, sales and subscriptions was a major point of interest for FP as well. “If you can do so much with so little, imagine what you could do with a lot!” is what Matt Spetzler of FP told me during a meeting in Berlin a few months ago. He was referring to the success that PABX had seen in the last few years - despite the obvious lack of investment capital. That sentence really resonated with me.
To make a very long story short: On behalf of my family I have recently sold Plugin Alliance LLC (USA) and Brainworx Audio GmbH (Germany) to Francisco Partners!
Then PA & BX silently joined the new Music Creation Group as the 3rd & 4th force, together with Native Instruments and Izotope. At the end of 2021, before the group even had a combined name. BUT: I have re-invested a significant part of the purchase price that our family has received into our new Supergroup of audio companies. In fact, my re-investment into the group was substantial enough to make me the biggest private shareholder in the new company group! So I am not going anywhere…
And Plugin Alliance & Brainworx will continue to shine as the beloved customer-facing brands they are, of course. Imagine how much wider we will be able to spread the PABX product and our brands as part of this new combined company.
Today we announce our new combined platform with Native Instruments and Izotope, and combined we will be able to reach almost 10 Million Users. That is almost 10x the users PABX was able to reach yesterday! And a thousand times the reach we had before I started the Plugin Alliance a few years back. Crazy stats!
Seeing how the launch of PA kick-started our growth in the past 10 years, I can only imagine what our new uber-platform will help us to create in the next 10 years! Together with our established brands as always, and with the additional support from our new partners as well.
We have probably grown PABX as big as one can grow a family-owned, self-funded cash-based tech start-up. Now it’s time for the next chapter.
From my private office in Florida I will continue to be the CEO for both of the companies I founded, Plugin Alliance and Brainworx. The BX team and office in Germany will continue to be run by Managing Director Winni Schapitz, who has been doing an amazing job of growing the team and leading it into our new creative office space in 40764 Langenfeld, Germany.
In addition to my ongoing PABX commitments I have also accepted a Management Board seat in the new “Supergroup”, working hand in hand with the experienced CEO Mark Cattini, the Francisco Partners PE team, and our new Management and Executive Boards. We intend to create the most exciting music creation group on the planet! From inspiration and fun projects to world-wide 3D audio releases, we will offer the right tools and services to the creative community going forward.
As you may guess Marina and I won’t have to take on any jobs anymore in the future that we don’t like. Due to the fact that we still were the sole owners of our tech business in late 2021 we had an amazing payday in December. But, to be honest, for us as parents and “family people” the best thing about this “deal” is the fact that our son Tim is now financially protected no matter what, and that we are able to support many members of our big German family, friends, and our teams. After years of sweat and tears and often pain (for example with German and US tax authorities, who often just assumed our success was fraudulent, mainly because they (still) don’t really understand what we are doing….) we feel like we finally have arrived somewhere, and our family future looks bright. So… what’s next?1
The rest of his post:
Introducing... drum-roll… SOUNDWIDE
Today our new audio supergroup has finally announced the launch and birth of the new SOUNDWIDE platform to the public. I literally had to wait more than 100 days to tell you this. That's also more than 100 nights.
SOUNDWIDE will be the biggest international group of music creation software and marketing experts in the world, with more than 600 employees working in company offices and studios in Berlin, Langenfeld (both in Germany), Los Angeles, Boston and Florida (USA), Tokyo (Japan), Shenzhen (China), the UK, and more. And I will be at the helm station of this huge vessel, together with my new partners and colleagues around the globe. Of course, Soundwide is not just “my” company anymore. There is a team of professionals around me, and I can’t wait to work with them, and learn from them. Still… somebody please pinch me!
We expect PABX to immediately benefit from the much improved reach to so many more users around the globe, starting today. Then for 2023 and beyond we can imagine offering combined products to all of our users… we have TONS of new ideas. It’s going to get loud in the cloud.
But as I said before: PA and BX will continue to be their own brands, run their own businesses and online presences in the future, none of that is going away. Just like Native Instruments and Izotope will continue to develop their brands and individual business, of course.
As a whole, and with so many resources to share, SOUNDWIDE will be the biggest platform of its kind in the world, and I am happy and proud that I can finally share this exciting news with you all today. Also, I can assure everybody that I will be personally involved in the future of PABX & SOUNDWIDE. And anybody who knows me even just a little bit should know that I will be going “all-in” for SOUNDWIDE!
THANK YOU to all our family, friends, our PA & BX teams, fans, followers and supporters - for all you have done for our family, our companies, and for me personally in the last 15 years! It’s been the most amazing hot lap of my life!
To all of you reading all the way through: THANK YOU for your attention today. I know it's a pretty lengthy text, but since you are following my personal social media I wanted to give you a peek behind the curtain and the complete story.
I can’t wait to see where this is going, for all of my old and new 'babies' involved. Time to learn, time to invent, and time to grow again!2
BUT... very disappointing for the initial impression I get from the lack of diversity in Soundwide's "Artist Board".
Very limited in the vision and scope of this selection. Shortsighted and off-putting.
No Apple, no iPad, no M1 and no AI. TERRIBLE!!!!!!! ;-)0
Actually JUCE can be a unified pathway to iPadOS for all of Soundwide.
JUCE is an open-source cross-platform C++ application framework for creating high quality desktop and mobile applications, including VST, VST3, AU, AUv3, RTAS and AAX audio plug-ins. JUCE can be easily integrated with existing projects via CMake, or can be used as a project generation tool via the Projucer, which supports exporting projects for Xcode (macOS and iOS), Visual Studio, Android Studio, Code::Blocks and Linux Makefiles as well as containing a source code editor.
Soundwide is pleased to welcome the newly formed Sound Stacks, born from the minds of Cesare Ferrari and Julian Storer, the creator of the industry-standard open-source audio application framework JUCE.0
Dont understand this point of view at all.
Surely software is fairly agnostic about the kind of music you do with it (apart from I guess a few specialised guitar amp sims etc)
I'm a techno artist myself and the fact that Charlotte de Witte, Paula Temple or someone like that is not on the Artist board does not matter at all to me!1
Subscription value will be dependent on content. Lack of diversity in Artist Board may unduly shape the offerings of content and speed at which parts of it are developed.1
Kudos for the freebies! Is there a way to download these to tablet, then transfer to a studio PC?
Or at least claim them now and install in the future?0
Ooh, I've been keen for a virtual Oberhausen for a while now, don't mind if I do :)0
Very nice! Looking forward to what NI has in store for the users of the NI Ecosystem! Super excited!!!2
Jut grab them, certainly the Plugin Alliance stuff then just sits in your account, ditto Ethereal Earth0
Does it mean that NI plugins could be ported to JUCE?1
Thanks, i managed to claim them now. PA offer offline activation, but NI don't. Not very cool.0
Hello Just downloaded the PA pack.
The plugins are no activating however, says there is no license for the plug ins and that a trial needs to be started.
Anyone else having this problem?/ Have a solution?
Thanks for any feedback.0
Yep! unable to activate the plugins as well1
Maybe that will mean better or at least faster porting in the future. NI is extremely slow when it comes to adopting new tech (VST3) or supporting new platforms. That also may hopefully open them up to Linux support. That would be cool.
Having the Sound Stacks team work on the technology and all the partners build their stuff on top of that seems like a great idea.2
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