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Avid Dips Their Toes into the Subscription Waters

COW Library : Avid Media Composer : Walter Biscardi : Avid Dips Their Toes into the Subscription Waters
CreativeCOW presents Avid Dips Their Toes into the Subscription Waters -- AVID Editorial


Biscardi Creative Media
Buford Georgia USA
CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.


My favorite thing about NAB is connecting with folks who don't follow the same discipline I do. If all I did was hang around Adobe users, we'd all just share what we love about that singular suite and I wouldn't really learn much new. A chance breakfast meeting with someone I've never met before (thank you Twitter!) has made me go back and re-visit the slew of Avid press releases I've received over the past few days. Turns out I missed something potentially huge for our Post Production industry, especially the "little guys" and small shops like mine.

There it was: "Subscription Offerings" Two little words that I've been waiting to see for over a year from another major NLE. Adobe rocked the boat pretty good last year when they went 'all in' on the Creative Cloud to use all their latest software and for me and my company, it's worked out perfectly. Now Avid is dipping their toes into the subscription model and for editors everywhere, this is a GREAT development.

Now before you throw your pitchforks and get the torches lit (see Adobe Creative Cloud: The Debate Forum for reference) Avid has not thrown away the perpetual license. You actually have a choice of ownership or Subscription right now. This introduction is obviously a lesson well learned from Adobe's hard cut off of the perpetual license to the cloud. No matter how good Creative Cloud is (and it's awesome) taking away choice from the consumer abruptly created negativity that still permeates today.

Avid offering the subscription model plays well into the small shop / independent editor / independent post house extremely well and here's why. In order to truly serve the end client, you need to have access to and be proficient in all the major NLEs out there. In my mind today that's Adobe, Avid, Apple. Apple is easy at just $300 no biggie to have that in the toolbox, but when it comes to Avid / Adobe, generally you have to make choice as to which one you're going to commit to just from a purely financial standpoint. You had to pay for Avid outright whereas you could spread the money for the Cloud over time or even just pay when you needed it for the month.

Now as an editor, I can choose to have BOTH Avid and Adobe in my toolbox and pay for them as I need them. In fact, I can pay for a month or two of subscription to get up to speed and learn either tool so I'm ready when a gig is posted for either Avid or Adobe. This is HUGE for freelance / independent editors who work for a multitude of clients who work on multiple platforms. "Do you know Avid?""No, but I can learn it really quick" is NOT going to get you a gig. Having access to, learning it, and even refreshing yourself from time to time WILL get you gigs.

As an independent Post house, we can now offer Avid / Adobe / Apple for editing so we can service the client with whatever tool they want, but without the financial outlay of paying the high costs just to purchase software that "might be used" or "just to say we have it." When I purchased the Avid Symphony 6 licenses on sale a few years ago, they were $1000 each, so for my 5 workstations, that was $5000 I had to pay up front. Now I can simply either pay $49.99 / month yearly subscription or just $74.99 for a single month WHEN we actually need the software. That means MORE profit for me because I'm not paying for software that I MIGHT use. I'm paying for the software WHEN I actually use it. THIS is why the subscription model works so well for Post Production. Pay for what you actually use, when you use it, not for what you think you need to have.

Let's go back to that independent freelancers I mentioned a moment ago. Sign up for a month or two, learn the software. Every few months, no more than 6 months, subscribe again for a month, refresh yourself, learn the new features. That's far less than having to pay for software up front you're not sure you'll ever actually use. In the scenario above you'd pay $224 to access and refresh yourself on Avid for the three months. That should be less than you'd make for one day of editing on Avid for a client. Money well spent in my book. You also don't have to worry about upgrading that software every single year just to stay current. If this works like Creative Cloud, you'll get updates every time you log in.

Now let's take this further. What if EVERY piece of software that we use in Post Production was available by subscription. NOBODY would be limited in what they could use. Whatever tool would truly get the job done best for your particular project would be available to you. I would love to see this go across the board because honestly there are simply too many tools available to use today for anyone outside the large post houses and networks who can afford to "just have everything" in-house just in case they need it.

Too many people are seeing subscription as "taking away my rights to own software" and they're missing the bigger picture. Subscription gives access at a more reasonable price point. "But I won't be able to access my private files, the company has a hold on me!" That's what monthly subscriptions are for. Buy in, get what you need and get out. Paying $50 - $100/month for one month instead of $1000 for a year just to access old files is better in my book.

Think about having access to Filmlight Baselight, Autodesk Smoke, DaVinci Resolve (full version) even Plug-ins when you need them, without having to come up with the cash up front for ownership. Financial access to the best tool would not be a stopping point for any project, any production.

Now I know Avid is just getting started in this subscription idea but I was very surprised not to see a package that includes ProTools. It's very possible I missed it, but that seems to be a glaring omission for a subscription package as editing and sound design go so hand-in-hand today. I'd like to see that dropped into the package which would bring it more on par with Adobe's Creative Cloud having Audition in there. But hey, the mere fact that we can now subscribe to Media Composer is a welcome addition to the Subscription options.

Call me crazy, but I like where this subscription landscape is going. Avid and Adobe make two. Who's next?






Autodesk has also announced Subscription Plans for their software as well, however at the time of this article, pricing plans do not appear to be available on their website, however, a conversation with @autodesk Smoke on Twitter revealed that prices will be published in May.

Sub. $195/mo, $545/qtr & $1,750/yr (US prices...will vary worldwide).

You may download the Autodesk infographic here.

Comments

Re: Avid Dips Their Toes into the Subscription Waters
by Pat Horridge
I disagree. Rental is exactly the way. Rental by the month is ideal for dribble along projects. And of course as always users can always rent Avid suites from Post houses by the day if need be.
And unlike Adobe Avid has allowed current Avid owners to keep an upgrade route for $299 per year.

Pat Horridge
Technical Director, Trainer, Avid Certified Instructor
Free online Tutorials at VET digital media academy online http://vimeo.com/channels/752951
VET
Production Editing Digital Media Design DVD
T +44 (0)20 7505 4701 | F +44 (0)20 7505 4800 | E pat@vet.co.uk |
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Re: Avid Dips Their Toes into the Subscription Waters
by Mark Baldwin
Subscription based software is a horrible idea, especially for AVID and Pro-Tools. If they retain the ownership option, it's not an issue, but forcing people to pay on a monthly basis will destroy independents and documentarians, who often have to work in dribs and drabs over a period of years. AVID makes wonderful software, but if they get arrogant or out of touch with their user base (as they did before the rise of FCP) they will kill the goose that laid the golden egg. Professional Editors who like to be able to work at home occasionally, or do a little personal project on the spur of the moment (like me) will also bristle at the "subscription paradigm."
@Mark Baldwin
by walter biscardi
As an independent and documentarian, I can tell you that subscription is wonderful. Especially if you work in "drips or drabs" over a period of years. Pay for the subscription when you're working, turn it off when you're not. In the meantime, the software gets updated so the next time you subscribe, you've got the latest and greatest.

We run the Adobe Creative Cloud, have been running it for two years now, and it's the best thing to happen for professionals in a long time. Software is constantly updated, slew of new user requested features and it keeps getting better.

If Avid follow the Adobe model, it's a true win-win for the end user.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

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Re: Avid Dips Their Toes into the Subscription Waters
by Pat Horridge
As I said my worry is exactly the dribbling out of fixes and features. We're not going to be point fixes and new version numbers from now on. It will be more like Creative cloud. You'll just get an update notification.
My preference is still to have major releases with functional changes and feature additions so I can choose when and if to update (or even downgrade sometimes to suit a client)

We use Avid and Adobe and I can't see how we can offer the solid support a client needs using the Adobe update model. We don't have clients using Adobe for long form or older projects. We do have clients coming in needing a Version 6.5 or V5.5 MC to continue to cut a job.

And you can bet a whole bunch of folks will continue to run the version they have and avoid the subscription and after the end of 2014 they will have to pay $1000 plus support to update their perpetual license....

I'm not sure the Adobe model will work the same for Avid clients.

But there's no going back the die is cast so forwards we all march.
Avid have it all to prove before the end of 2014 as a lot of folks will hold off till then to see what subscription brings.
The list of non buck earning legacy issues and dated design will need to be addressed and delivered to persuade folks to move to subscription.

Pat Horridge
Technical Director, Trainer, Avid Certified Instructor
VET
Production Editing Digital Media Design DVD
T +44 (0)20 7505 4701 | F +44 (0)20 7505 4800 | E pat@vet.co.uk |
http://www.vet.co.uk | Lux Building 2-4 Hoxton Square London N1 6US
Re: Article: Avid Dips Their Toes into the Subscription Waters
by Pat Horridge
Not really dipping their toes. Once on this route there's no easy get out later.
Have to say I'm no fan of subscription based products. For my post house the cost will be similar.
However I preferred the old model of point releases as bug fixes and feature changes at major release. We can easier deal with ongoing production work that way.
The incremental dripple out of bug fixes and feature changes will be much harder to manage now and tge drive to innovate reduced by the steady stream of subscription income.
I can see why Avid have gone this route as I think they will gain from it

Pat Horridge
Technical Director, Trainer, Avid Certified Instructor
VET
Production Editing Digital Media Design DVD
T +44 (0)20 7505 4701 | F +44 (0)20 7505 4800 | E pat@vet.co.uk |
http://www.vet.co.uk | Lux Building 2-4 Hoxton Square London N1 6US
@Pat Horridge
by Tim Wilson
Please note: speaking ONLY for myself as a former owner of a video production business, former video software development guy, and former Avid product guy. The opinions are strictly mind, and should not be construed as associated with any current or previous employers.

[Pat Horridge]: "...tge drive to innovate reduced by the steady stream of subscription income."

You have this exactly backwards! Once a vendor has your money from the box in hand, the product can die. On a subscription, they have to keep delighting you month by month, because it'll only cost you $75 dollars to switch to Adobe Creative Cloud, or a little more to flip to Smoke.

That doesn't happen in practice, though. Certainly not at Avid. They don't get lazy just because they have your money. Before I came to the COW, I was actually in product development at Avid, and I can tell you first-hand: these are aggressive, creative people who are highly competitive. They want to not only keep customers happy, they want to be better than anyone else at what they do.

You can argue whether or not they succeed at that, but that's the attitude. They want to win, and they want their customers to win. My experience in other fields is that ALL developers are like that.

The problem is that, in a sales model, every new feature has to establish that it will create incremental value -- we will sell X more boxes with this feature than without it. If there's not a dollar sign attached to something like a new frame rate, it drops down the schedule in favor of features that have a dollar sign.

Improved trimming may not pay for itself. Once you get into something REALLY bold, like a new interface -- the only thing harder to guess than the cost is guessing how much NEW money you'll make with the new interface. And if you can't justify it based on the NEW money you'll make, how can you argue that you should do it?

This kind of internal debate almost completely vanishes when you have subscriptions. NOW the primary cost you have to cover is just salaries, and that one's pretty well fixed. When your costs are mostly fixed and your revenue is predictable through subscriptions, NOW you're free to allocate resources strategically, based on perceived customer needs, market pressures, etc -- rather than have to argue BOTH strategy AND the ability to make INCREMENTAL money off it.

Avid is "dipping their toes in the water" because they're still building a business model, and therefore a DEVELOPMENT model, around sales. They can't do both. Otherwise, I could decide to stop subscribing and buy a new box of Media Composer today...but if updates were being delivered more quickly to subscribers than to "box" customers, then I could LOSE features until the next "box" customer update. Avid would never let that happen, so LOOKS LIKE they're going to keep subscription feature deployment patterns tied to traditional sales cycles.

They're still trying to get off the "have to justify the dollar benefit for every feature" hamster wheel by moving everyone into required service contracts, though. So, now, they don't have to create point releases around the SALES message. They can create them around SERVICE.

That, by the way, is EXACTLY what nailed Avid with regulators. This may seem ridiculous to you from that side of the pond, but Avid delivered a new feature in a bug fix release, and there's bookkeeping hell to pay. That's why Avis is pushing for a REVENUE model that accounts for all new features being paid for -- but this in-between approach not yet as transformative as it could be. Not while they're still tracking development to sales cycles.

I COULD BE WRONG ABOUT ALL OF THIS. The only details of this model are the ones I read in press releases like this. But the (former) development side AND the (former) customer side of me wants to see what happens when the customer-focused whizzes in Avid development are free to do as much as they want, without regard to whether they're giving too much away without charging enough for it. That's no way to work.

None of this says anything about you having to LIKE subscriptions. But the immediate impact on development is so liberating that I can't imagine any company who starts down this route saying, "You know what? Being free to operate strategically is no fun. Let's go back to having to justify every feature AND IMPROVEMENT TO EXISTING ONES based on its incremental dollar value. Let's go back to delivering IMPORTANT features, and IMPORTANT tweaks, more slowly because they're not sexy enough to drive new sales." That stinks.

I do want to be clear though: I love sales people. They have the primary interface with customers, and are often the front line of service. The insights they gain from the trenches are critical to product development. Lack of features, or poorly implemented features -- this stuff affects their ability to earn a living. They crack the whip more than anyone. "I'm getting killed out there without Feature X. I need that NOW or I'm going to keep losing sales to Company A. I SAID NOW DAMMIT."

With a subscription model, salespeople can sell the message, "We'll take care of you far more quickly now than we ever could before." They can sell what exists AND what's coming -- but only if Avid's future revenue is secured through subscriptions. Otherwise, no.

This "toe-dipping" aspect is why I'm not sure yet how transformative of the DEVELOPMENT PROCESS this will be. I do know that Avid won't have to worry that they're delivering too much in a "dot" release. As long as they're getting service contract revenue from everyone, they're covered. Heaven knows I'm cheering for them to be able to have the freedom they deserve.

My prediction, though: more of this for everyone in the future, not less. I strongly recommend building this into your long-term plans for your business.

Again, speaking ONLY for myself as a former owner of a video production business, former video software development guy, and former Avid product guy. The opinions are strictly mind, and should not be construed as associated with any current or previous employers.
Re: Avid Dips Their Toes into the Subscription Waters
by walter biscardi
Reminder that when Adobe launched Creative Cloud they continued to offer CS6 as a perpetual license for the first year. So they launched the Cloud the same way Avid is launching Everywhere.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Craft and Career Advice & Training from real Working Creative Professionals

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Re: Avid Dips Their Toes into the Subscription Waters
by Mark Suszko
For independent, for-profit facilities, it can make a lot of financial sense.

Institutions and government agencies, however, are having a very hard time with this paradigm shift in comparison, because their accounting and procurement systems are hardwired to go thru lengthy processes of research and competitive bidding in order to finally buy a physical piece of media - a disk in a cardboard box - and fully OWN it for all time, or until they decide to destroy it (it is never re-sold).

And institutions/ public agencies have budgets in flux not just during the fiscal year, but they get upheavals every 2 and 4 years as "management" changes direction, or reviews what past management has done, then there's the entire IT culture and way of doing things that is not necessarily very flexible or swift to handle virtual products and their installation, legacy support, & security issues. So getting long-term commitments to remotely access, pay for, or just to renew, "rentware" - even just a $40 effects plug-in download - is sometimes a huge "ask".

Avid and Adobe IMO could do a much better job of making that transition easier and more accessible for institutional customers, because the institutions are very slow to change procedures that work for them on every other commodity purchase outside of our unique industry. You have to make it as easy as provisioning, say, offsite data backup servers, or telecom service packages. Easier, even.
Re: Avid Dips Their Toes into the Subscription Waters
by Mark Baird
YES YES YES. You nailed the problem with Government purchasing. AVID will have to stay with a buy option to serve those industries. Also, another often overlooked problem is the assumption that everyone is hooked up to the internet (to access those licenses) I can tell you, at NASA I was NOT connected, ever, for any reason. We kept our network to within our building and we had zero security issues (Duh) anything that required a network connection (even to register) was a 'will not purchase' for us.

I don't know how the big guys do it, but I can't imagine security conscious feature film or TV folks wanting their editors connected to the internet either. just too easy to breach and get access to footage.

Just my 2 cents

MB
Re: Avid Dips Their Toes into the Subscription Waters
by Tim Wilson
Avid's not following Lightworks. People have been renting Avid systems for over 20 years. There was a wide assumption in the beginning that very few individuals would own them -- although they certainly could, and did -- and that most people would be renting them through Avid dealers. When you hear about Avid being used on over 90% of Hollywood movies, those systems are typically rented.

This began to change the tiniest bit with Avid Xpress in the late 90s, but only REALLY began to shift with Avid Media Composer Adrenaline in 2003, and even then, rental was nowhere near over. Dealers were in fact the biggest purchasers of Adrenaline, and rented them by the truckload.

(The same is true for Avid storage, of course. People rent Unity workgroups, complete with metadata servers and Media Composer and Symphony editing and finishing seats, all the time.)

The part of this that's news is that Avid is renting software-only Media Composer directly to customers.

And while renting software has been part of enterprise business for well over 50 (yes, FIFTY) years, it has been common in this industry for a while too. Genarts, for example, has been renting plug-ins for years while also offering them for sale.

Not that Avid's news isn't news. It is. For that matter, Adobe's move to ONLY rent was BIG news, even in an industry where rental has been the dominant model for the industry's biggest players for a very long time.

But the idea of renting software, or specifically having an option to rent or buy software in general: not news. :-)
Re: Avid Dips Their Toes into the Subscription Waters
by MichaelMaier
@ Tim Wilson "Avid's not following Lightworks."

I beg to disagree. Renting is not the same as subscription. Specially not in the way Avid is doing it which coincidentally is exactly the same way as Lightworks, down to the single options. Lightworks also has annual, monthly and buy outright options. To say this is just coincidence is a bit short sighted in my opinion.

Renting, specially the way you brought up is different.

Genarts rents. It is not a subscription.

The truth is Avid is feeling the pressure of the market. It has been since FCP 1. Adobe seems to have gained more terrain after the FCP-X exodus than Avid. Now Lightworks is out for Windows and Linux and about to come out for the Mac and it costs a fraction of MC. So Avid has to try something new. But Avid has always had a hard time keeping up in the price. This was where FCP was killing it plus the freedom from proprietary hardware. So 1 year Lightworks subscription costs as much as 1 month of Media Composer.

Now with Resolve 11 being basically an editor + a color grading suite and free, the pressure increases even more. That makes two free professional editors on the market. Lightworks and Resolve.






Re: Avid Dips Their Toes into the Subscription Waters
by David Lawrence
Nothing wrong with subscription as long as it's an option. Avid's done it right. No reason Adobe can't do it this way too, if they want.

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Re: Avid Dips Their Toes into the Subscription Waters
by MichaelMaier
Avid's done it the Lightworks way. Lightworks has been offering this paying model for a few years now, which is way better than Adobe's. It's exactly the same subscription model Avid just announced with also the option of buying it.

Interesting seeing Avid following Lightworks.

@David Lawrence
by Richard Dolesh
Absolutely agree. Well spoken David, as long as it is an option.

Richard Dolesh


+1
@David Lawrence
by Richard Dolesh
Absolutely agree. Well spoken David, as long as it is an option. Please Adobe...give us the option.

Richard Dolesh


+1


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