Multiple instances = multiple licenses?

Hello community,

I was about to try a setup where I need multiple instances of Cantabile Performer. I created (with /config: “Number” in the properties) six instances from 1 - 6. When I wanted to open the first instance I was a bit surprised when a window opened where I had to select the license type.

Are six of my licenses “burned” only for testing this configuration? It is only a link to the main program, which I call. It is the same PC. It is the same hardware.

Is that intentional, that each instance needs its own license?

Hi @Organist,

I am not 100% sure about it, but I guess it’s because each instance of Cantabile runs in a different folder, as explained here

So the first time you run it, it will look for the license info in that folder without finding it. You do not need to buy a new license…I, for sure, have multiple Cantabile setups and just one license.


Hello Gabriel,

thanks for your reply. Meanwhile I did some tests. This is the original path:

“C:\Program Files\Topten Software\Cantabile 4.0\Cantabile.exe”

Here I get the error message that target is not valid:
“C:\Program Files\Topten Software\Cantabile 4.0\Cantabile.exe”/config:1

Here I got the error message “The application will not start”:
“C:\Program Files\Topten Software\Cantabile 4.0\Cantabile.exe” \config:1

Here opens the “Select license” window:
“C:\Program Files\Topten Software\Cantabile 4.0\Cantabile.exe” /config:1

The one above should be the correct command (I am not sure if 1 should be in double quotes or not…I use double quotes and it works). I did a quick test and I created a new configuration named “test”. It works as you say: it asks me to select a license. Since I have one, I have no problems…I just select my license (the same for all configuration I create) and I am done.
You do not need a new license for each new configuration: the same license will work for all.



I confirm what Gabriel explained, I put quotes and used my license: everything works.
The only thing is the settings - most of them, for homogeneity, should be the same to avoid confusion.


I made a video that shows the issue I run into:

Every new instance must be activated seperately!

Understanding Cantabile's Licensing System - Cantabile - Software for Performing Musicians says:

Cantabile uses a product activation scheme where each installation requires registration with the Cantabile Software website.

This is how I understood it: Install once per PC, license once → done!

Ok. Maybe you don’t like it, but that’s how it works. You have to tell to each instance of Cantabile which license you want to associated with it. This has to be done just the first time you run that particular instance.
In principle, I could own a Solo license, a Performer license and even use a Lite one. This is exactly what I would do if I needed to test things on the different versions. Each one has its own folder, with its own settings, including the license.

The important thing is that you are not asked to pay for a new license. The same license which you bought just once can be used for all instances.

Maybe there is something that I can’t understand and I apologize if I can’t see where your problem is. Again…you have to associate the license with the Cantabile instance just once, the first time you run it. Since you could want to run Solo on an instance and Performer on another, that’s not unreasonable.


For a better understanding: I bought a new PC. Here I had to reinstall my programs and plugins and of course I had to re-license them. Other vendors also use the license model “one license per customer”. “Fine”, I thought. “Then I can install the product on as many computers as I want!” Then I tried installing and licensing a synth plugin from (let’s call the company Sonaspectrics). Unfortunately, that didn’t work at all. So I did the usual things: Reinstalled the synth, scoured the manufacturers FAQ, tried offline activation etc etc… At some point, a message appeared in my customer login telling me to contact Sonaspectrics support to justify why I needed so many licenses!

The experience I had here: Even if the manufacturer promises you that you can license the product as often as you want, he can also deny me the license.

Then came the Windows 11 update to 22H2 and again some programs reported as no longer licensed.

Just yesterday again programs from (let’s call the manufacturer Plugin Arrogance) reported as unlicensed because they didn’t recognize the USB stick with the licenses. The device manager did.

Yesterday I installed a demo version of Waterfall B3. This morning my ILok plugins report as not licensed…

The experience I made here: I have no more time to make music. I only care about technical problems with licensing!

Conclusion: If I have to depend on a manufacturer to be able to use a program or if it requires a longer time and technical effort to activate it, THEN I have a problem!

In the case of Cantabile, the license terms should say “one license per instance used” and not '“one license per installation”. Then everything would be clear and understandable for me.

Dear @Organist,

I can relate with your feelings about licensing and windows updates etc. As a matter of fact, I disabled windows update on my music PC just to avoid this problems to hit me when I less expect them.

I also see the reason for our misunderstanding. For me, “one license for instance used” would mean “you have to buy a license for each instance that you want to use”, which is not the case.

Let’s see if I can get accross my point in another way: when you create a shortcut and configure its properties to run
“C:\Program Files\Topten Software\Cantabile 4.0\Cantabile.exe” /config:1"
you are not creating a new instance. You are using the very same installation (or instance) of Cantabile, calling it with a different value of the input parameter “config”. This means that the very same executable will look for its setting in a folder called “1”. It is not a new instance, it is just a way to launch the same instance. In fact, the license that you have to select is always the same. I see things this way since I am a programmer and I know what happens behind the scenes.

Anyway, now that it’s all clear, at least from my side, I will stop here. I wish you to be able to make music for a long time without having to mess around with authorizations, licenses etc. I know that it’s quite annoying when you switch on your PC, looking forward to make some music, and suddenly you have to deal with all kinds of issues before playing even one note.
It has happened to me a few times and…let’s say I didn’t like it! :rofl:


Guys, I think we have a bit of confusion here. Let me try to clear things up (or confuse you even more):

Let’s separate two things: a) Cantabile licensing (legal) and b) Cantabile configurations and activation (technical)

Regarding licensing, I think @brad couldn’t be clearer in his guides:

Cantabile’s license agreement allows installation on multiple PCs - so long as only one instance is used at a time.

So this means that I can have Cantabile installed and activated on as many PCs as I wish, but I can only use one instance at a time. So if I used it in parallel on my studio PC and my live laptop, I would violate the license terms

Regarding activation (the technical side of things), @brad is pretty pragmatic, so you can activate a number of installations (multiple machines) and configurations (/config:abc) without running into issues. You don’t “burn” licenses with multiple activations.

Now on @Organist’s original post: running multiple instances of Cantabile on the same machine may fall into an undefined area, since the license statement is mostly concerned with instances on multiple physical machines, e.g. a rack of PCs, each running Cantabile.

So it might be a bit of a legal hair-splitting area to say if running multiple instances of Cantabile on the same machine would be violating the license terms. But I would assume that @brad would be OK with that kind of usage - after all, it’s pretty much like having multiple instances of Word or PowerPoint open on the same machine, so in the sense of fairness and common sense, I hope @brad would allow that. @brad, maybe you can comment?

I use multiple configurations of Cantabile on all of my machines (for different bands and hardware configurations), and yes, I need to activate them all separately. But that has never been a problem - and again, it doesn’t “burn” any licenses, so feel free to activate away!



Technically the wording prohibits multiple instances running on the same machine and the same time, but I’ve never enforced it and if anyone is concerned about it email me, letting me know how many instances you want to run and I’ll give you a waiver.

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I’m curious. What end result are you after that required multiple instances of Cantabile to exist?


The goal is this: I want to switch different instruments independently on one or more midi channels.
Ch 1 --> piano or organ
Ch 2 --> strings or guitar
If I switch from piano to organ on Ch1, the sound on Ch2 should remain unchanged and if I switch the sound on Ch2, Ch1 should remain unchanged.
At the same time it should be possible to layer several instruments.
Ch1 --> Sounds 1 piano or organ
Ch1 --> Sounds 2 brass or celeste
For switching there are six buttons on a control unit:
Ch1 LayerA Sound off, piano, organ
Ch1 LayerB Sound off, brass, celeste
The whole thing is then expanded to three midi channels with triple layer on the first channel and double layer on each of the other two channels with at least 64 different sounds per layer. (If this really works with Cantabile? I don’t know yet…)
Cantabile foresees: Many songs with few instruments. I need few songs with many instruments.
My first approach was to run several instances independently and to split the midi and audio signals with e.g. Midi-Ox or a virtual midi patchbay and virtual midi cables and to combine the audio channels with ASIO Link or something similar.

That sounds complex, but doable with racks in a single Performer instance.

The only hitch i can think of is whether or not you run out of memory or computing resources, depending on how resource-hungry your layers are, but in that case multiple instances wouldn’t help; you’d need additional CPUs, which would call for additional licenses.


Yes, this will also be very complex and therefore I should think well beforehand how I do it and test out several things. My new PC should have enough RAM and CPU power. There are professional providers who have already managed something like this under Windows XP. Besides, this is only the beginning. In the future, rhythm and accompaniment will be integrated. I think Cantabile Performer offers a lot of possibilities for this, but I have to try some (maybe for other users) nonsensical things first to be sure that someday it will work as I imagine it.

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Exactly what I was thinking.
There is no MIDI routing you can achieve in multiple instances that can’t be achieved in one Cantabile. It’s the same MIDI controlling rack states etc.

I too went down the path of trying to run a Keyboard Rig in addition to my WindSynth rig through one instance of Cantabile. It hit the skids on performance, and I wound up running two C4 laptops (far side of the studio) …

(which I guess technically makes me in violation of the C4 Terms of Service … oops)


What I would be interested in:
If I use only one instance, I would have to put several plugins in one rack and several racks in one song. Do you have experience how many audio outputs I can merge up to the master audio output? So for example four plugins per rack and six racks per song. That would be 24 outputs merged to one master. Is there a limit? :thinking:

No specific limit on merging outputs, @Organist … the limit I was hitting was a performance limit.

Cantable has very useful metrics for tracking performance, and I have one of them all the time in the Controller Bar in the bottom of the screen to keep an eye on it …

Last night I did another test:

I load four instances of the UVI Falcon into a rack pack and six of those racks into a song. There is only one sound loaded in one instance of UVI-Falcon. With my new Alder-Lake Windows 11 PC with Behringer X18 I have dropouts and crackles in the sound or hear rattling noises. It seemed to me that the dropouts decrease when I remove some racks.
Then I did the same test on my old PC with i5 processor, Windows 10 and Tascam US-122 mkII. Here there were no problems with the sound.