AUDIO & MORE
I have seen big music production studio’s that are running illegally downloaded software DAW’s and illegal plugins. I have seen big advertisement agencies that are running illegal design software like Photoshop and Illustrator. I have seen big video-production houses using illegally downloaded 3d-software.. And to me this just doesn’t make any sense and I really felt the urge to write an article and express my feelings on this topic.
Over the last few years I have ran into this situation multiple times. When working on-location or even in-house for a large agency I have found illegally downloaded software running on their computers, more than once! Personally I have a pretty outspoken perspective on this, which basically says Hell No! The creative market is ‘ruined’ already, and you are just making things worse.
I know that big corporations have their lifeless number-crunching and target-reaching managers who are out to make [read : ‘save’] their company as many pennies as possible.
Unfortunately this leads up to someone in the company making the decision to not pay for software licenses, as that might seem like a big bill to save some money on.
I seriously wonder how can you run one of the world’s biggest advertisement agencies, have an illegally downloaded copy of photoshop running and still be able to look yourself in the mirror, calling yourself a designer. -Besides the fact that this should be morally wrong, I doubt it really saves you a lot of money. And honestly it just looks really bad.
If you would try to make a painting, you would need a canvas, paint and (most likely) brushes or palette knives to get started on your work. But you surely wouldn’t try to download the tools you need for a painting, right? (Yeah, okay, you now could probably 3d-print all of it, but screw you for just having that thought!)
Or how about the shoemaker, he couldn’t simply… well you get my point here! The bottom line is that, traditionally, you would need to invest in buying the tools that allow you to create something.
If investing in the tools you need to have to be able to simply do your job doesn’t sound weird than why do so many people don’t honer this concept when it comes down to digitally creating something?
Besides the obvious ones there are many other benefits of actually owning your software. Product support, cheaper upgrades and peace of mind are some of the most notable ones. But also knowing you have the legit thing and no buggy, crashing and possibly malicious software may also be prominent amongst these reasons.
Another reason is simply to support a software company. They allow you to actually do your job, day in day out, so I believe that needs to be mentioned here. Personally I use Adobe software at least 6 days a week and I love the products they release. They have a pretty transparent roadmap of updates and their business-model of monthly fees is very affordable. Yes I’m not afraid to say it : I am gladly giving them my money every month and in return I get to use all of their software. Avid, for example, is also exploring this business model with their software and I expect that many software companies will follow in the near future.
Just as a reference: The whole CS4 master suite would cost you about €2500. That is indeed quite a lot of money but in return you got the whole collection of their software including Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks, Dreamweaver, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Audition, inDesign, Bridge, Flash, AIR, Acrobat, Encore, and some more! -Note that upgrading to a newer version like CS5 (1.5 year later) would then cost you about €800.
With their new Creative cloud subscription-based service you get access to all of Adobe’s software including new software like Edge, Muse, a whole library of fonts, Cloud storage, Behance membership & more for €60,- a month .
-Which comes down to about 720 Euros per year.
So in four years having a Creative Cloud licence it would cost me about € 2880,- which is just about the price you would pay when purchasing the CS4 Mastersuite a few years ago.
Considering you would have probably updated twice in that period that would come down to a total of €4100, thus making the CC license a lot cheaper. -Even though it offers more software, more services and a whole lot more upgrades. No matter if you do web design, graphic design, video production, printing & publishing, sound or anything in between, to me this sounds like a great deal!
I can imagine that not everyone can cough up a few hundred dollars to buy a piece of software. -Especially if it’s not an investment that should eventually generate your income. However, depending on the type of usage and how much you actually need this software in order to do your work, I personally believe you simply need to purchase it.
Students and kids are in my ‘category 1’. Category 1 simply can’t pay for the software, thats why a lot of software can be purchased with a special educational discount which very often can be very fair. I also believe one should be having the time to learn the products. I empathise category 1, but even you will need to buy your software licenses some day!
Startups & Starting freelancers are placed in my category 2. You’ll have to start somewhere, and you have to learn and explore as well. agreed! However as soon as you start generating income with any type of software I feel you should purchase all the software you actually use.
Freelancers and companies are placed in category 3. There is no excuse for anyone in this category to not purchase the software you use. If it’s the first time you would like to try out a piece of software and they don’t offer a trial version, maybe. But thats all…
Hobbyists are placed in category 4. Again, I believe there is no reason to illegally download your software even if you purely use it for a hobby.
Years ago, before I had started my own company, I had some illegally downloaded software on my computer. This allowed me to simply learn the software, and besides that I had the privilege to work on all legal software at the company I worked for at that time.
The day I started earning money with my services I made sure that all software that I had on my computer was legit. -I had formatted my hard drive, bought Cubase, bought plugins, bought Adobe’s software and invested in what I thought I would need to do my work. I don’t charge the most per hour in the industry (even though I sometimes feel I should) but i do make sure that I can afford the tools that I need in order to do my work properly.
At the time there were rumours that Waves (a software company making audio plugins) would call up studio’s and producers to ask for a quote. They (pretending to be artists intending to book studio-time) told they only wanted to work with waves-plugins. If you said “Yeah we have their whole collection of plugins” but were not registered as a Waves-user they would simply send you a bill + notice of your use of illegal software. And even though its not the nicest way of taking care if this, it was a pretty efficient one. (A lot of people in the industry were talking about this!) I am running a few waves plugins on my system, and yeah.. I have a license for those!
You will need to calculate the costs of both software and hardware in your billing to your clients. The creative market gets heavily disturbed by people offering 2 dollar logos, 10 dollar animation videos and 5 dollar music tracks. This is IMPOSSIBLE to do and simply unacceptable if you are taking both your work, and the market you’re working in serious. A plumber will show up at your door charging $100 an hour because he has to pay for his tools and expenses as much as any creative does. Plus he seems to take his work seriously and so should you!
If you can’t pay for it…You should’t use it.. It’s as simple as that.
Besides that Wick has started WickieMedia, he is also author, blogger and video-editor for the site.
Wick is very passionate about audio engineering, music production, graphic design, motion graphics and good cappuchino.
Wick is the author of 'Audio Engineering - Dynamic Processing' and 'Audio Engineering - Spectral Processing'.
You can find both titles in the iBookstore.
Fantastic web site. Lots of helpful info here. I am sending it to several pals ans additionally sharing in delicious.
And naturally, thanks in your sweat!
You forgot to mention the tax benefits of purchasing licenses. You can write off a percentage of all those expenses if you are making money using the software.
I agree! I really try to purchase all my software. It just feels 'right' to support them! Great article by the way, I like opinion blogs :)