OK, I don’t want to get into a protracted battle-of-beliefs here - in the end @brad needs to decide if the additional market potential justifies his development efforts. I like the crowdfunding idea - problem may be getting sufficient visibility for the campaign, though…
Just a few thoughts to @Ade’s arguments:
I’ve spent quite a bit of time in and with start-ups and private equity investment companies, so I’ve seen a number of businesses succeed - and fail. One thing I’ve learned: it’s NOT about function and features, it’s about fulfilling a market need - or creating one. The second thing: unless you’re selling consumables, you don’t sell to your existing customers - you sell to people who DON’T use your product yet.
In this, I applaud @brad for asking exactly the right question: how do you get someone who doesn’t use VST instruments live, but only a DAW to produce music, to get excited about Cantabile?
Now there are a number of key differences between live use and studio production, and a lot of Cantabile’s differentiating features are precisely what makes it such a killer platform for live use. Essentially, in live usage, everything happens real-time, so Cantabile shines when it comes to:
- recalling pre-created songs and scenes
- controlling complicated setups using multiple instruments and effects at the same time with multiple controllers and zones
- modifying this performance with all kinds of real-time controllers and event-driven reactions
Within the DAW environment, there are essentially two key scenarios:
“virtual tape machine” - recording a studio performance by a and then producing the finished song by applying mixing and effects - mostly audio processing, although the field is getting blurry, due to the use of MIDI drums or keyboards in classic recording scenarios
“desktop production”, which is essentially building songs track by track, adding individual instruments (audio or virtual) one at a time. The broader market is certainly dominated by that scenario, with the professional market becoming a hybrid of “tape machine” and “desktop production” - depending on the genre…
Now the main difference between desktop production and live use is that in this production scenario, you don’t need the “real-time” aspect that much; you can build your sound step by step, add automation curves, sprinkle in effects to taste, etc, which all is part of the creative production process. You tend to make decisions on the instrument plugins and effects to use very much individualized to the song. One example: for live use in Cantabile, I pretty much only use Addictive Keys as my piano sound, but in productions, I’ll try five or six different massive sample libraries before I’m satisfied the sound fits the song.
Regarding “real-time” sound modifications, these are usually added in DAWs using automation - a procedure well-known to any bedroom producer.
Re playability: most VST instruments are optimized for individual playability (see e.g. NKS controller assignments) in a production workflow, not controlled as a complex setup like in Cantabile. But given the “track-by-track” workflow, this is mostly what desktop producers require. They simply build their songs one track / instrument at a time - like painting a picture.
So, essentially, Cantabile’s key strengths (real-time control of complex plugin arrangements) aren’t really what the run-of-the-mill bedroom producer (and that’s the mass market for VST plugins!) will require on a daily basis. They essentially need a broad palette of instruments and effects - and they’ll work with their respective DAWs to put everything together.
Cantabile does have a pretty steep learning curve until you really get the full benefit of its capabilities - I believe most bedroom producers invest more time in the handling of their DAW.
Re the market for VEP: this is a completely different beast. Its key capability is to spread out processing load across multiple machines. That is something that film producers need because of the massive sample libraries that would overwhelm one single machine. And its market is accessed pretty easily: all the users of the big VSL libraries who regularly overwhelm their machines (who sells VEP again? - talk about creating a market for a new product )
Yes, there may be some DAW users (I would guess especially in the complex sound design segment) who would appreciate Cantabile’s ease of creating complex setups - although it’s not sooo difficult to do similar things with Metaplugin - would be interested in the sales numbers of this tool! And given it costs only $44, this could give an indication of a market value of a Cantabile plugin…
Last: about there being no technical downside: there definitely is one, namely that it would split @brad’s capacity to further develop Cantabile between the stand-alone and the VST version. A plugin version would create its own dynamic of user demands and features, and @brad would have to allocate significant time first to build the plugin version and then to satisfy the specific requirements of the plugin customers…
I’m definitely open to be convinced of the market potential, but NOT on the basis of features and functions, but rather on “who specifically would be the people buying the plugin, why would they buy it, and how many of them are there?”
So maybe a Kickstarter campaign would be the most effective way to find out…