Music Connection Takes Over Winter NAMM 2015

Tony Cariddi of AVID discusses Pro Tools | First, AVID Connect, the utility of Cloud sharing and more at Winter NAMM 2015.

Music Connection: Hey guys, Music Connection here at winter NAMM 2015 with Tony Cariddi of AVID. Just to get things started, why don’t you tell me a little bit about what you brought with you to NAMM this year.
Cariddi:  We brought a lot this year. We had a pretty big announcement, which is a totally free version of Pro Tools called Pro Tools | First. So now anyone can use the industry standard program used in the biggest facilitates and by the biggest producers, engineers and artists in the world, which is pretty exciting.  We also made it even easier: say you start on the free version then want to step up to the full version. You can do that easier than ever now with a subscription. We’ll still offer Pro Tools for sale like we have in the past, but for some people that’s maybe unaffordable to have that kind of money initially in one purchase, so you can get it for $29.99 a month or if you only want to commit to a year you can get it for less than $25 a month. We’re really excited to offer it at a lower price than ever before, and for the folks who already invested in it, we’re making it more affordable than ever to stay at the latest version, so for just $99 a year you’re sure to always have the latest version of Pro Tools.

What this really marks is a shift in how we’re going to be delivering software in the future and how the customer gets updates. Traditionally, people save up and every 18-24 months we have a massive upgrade, the shift here is that as we move towards a service model and a subscription model, we’re able to release smaller updates more frequently. Now instead of that 18-24 month turnaround, we might see a quarterly update, so four updates a year potentially. We did this with our video editing program media composer, and the results have been really great, people really appreciated the frequent rollouts. It’s easier for our engineering to do as well, and it’s more beneficial to the customers to see the value in what they pay for a lot more frequently.

MC: Definitely. I liked what you were saying about the subscription-based service that you have—it reminds me of Photoshop and how accessible it is, because sometimes times are hard and it’s a lot to pay for in one batch. With it being so accessible, do people have to be a pro to start out, or do you have a step-by-step guide that comes with it?
Cariddi: With Pro Tools, the idea is to make it easy for people to start. We knew we had to have some content to really explain it, so initially there’s about six quick videos that will explain things like creating a template, making a beat, how to record a vocal, things like that. We always have that mind to keep it easy for people to pick it up and get their ideas down as fast as possible.

MC: Awesome, and I see that you have AVID Connect 2015. Is that something new that you just started doing?
Cariddi: It’s new-ish. Last spring we had the inaugural event. If you’ve been following us you’ll see that we have an initiative called “AVID Everywhere.” The best description of that is something for media professionals that makes it easy for them to connect, collaborate, be more profitable and efficient and create a better connection from creators to consumers. So for a musician that means the person who is editing a commercial and is looking for music for that commercial. It could mean an independent filmmaker who is looking for a composer; it could be a feature film or any number of things.

There are a lot of different components that could make this vision a reality, one of them is keeping the tools best in class, making sure they stay leading and are always addressing people’s needs. The other one is making those tools accessible to people—that’s where Pro Tools | First comes in to play, and where the subscription plan and upgrade model both come into play.  It also has to do with working with the community to make sure that we’re creating a platform upon which people can easily integrate their products and they can have workflows that all connect to each other. We knew we couldn’t do that alone, we knew we had to have the support of the professional community, so the AVID customer support association is a community that’s run—not by AVID—but is going to get insight on our road maps, and how we plan to integrate certain things like metadata and tracking , maybe media protection, all kinds of things.  If we don’t have their support there’s a good chance we may go off on the wrong track and not consider something that the customer needs, so the customer station is there to tell us “This is cool” or “This isn’t cool.” It’s made up of people, some of whom focus on features, others on support, and has representation from places like Universal, NBC, Viacom, it’s all over the map. So what happens at the AVID Connect event is it’s a physical meeting of these people, and we talk about roadmap, we talk about problems in the market and how to address them, we get feedback from the users and what their insights are and if we think we’re on the right track or not. It’s a great way to make sure that we stay connected to our core market.

MC: I love that you say “community” because as you say all this I keep thinking about how users can reach out, not only to each other, but to other people to get their work out there. I love what you guys are doing with that. That’s really cool.
Cariddi: Thank you, and selfishly I’m really excited for it too. Having Cloud collaboration is something that we are also talking about at the show and is something that we’ve been demoing in a beta test, but now when Pro Tools 12 ships, we’ll be able to help people collaborate like never before.

Today if you’re working with somebody you’re probably using DropBox or Google Drive, and you just throw the thing up there and they download it, and it can be hard to keep up with who did what. Your partner might have changed a compression setting on a vocal track or changed the automation. The AVID Cloud will connect the two collaborators and the project will live on the cloud, and everything is documented—who did what and when they did it. It’s fantastic, and that’s where having an online community is so important and having a social platform for people to find other people to collaborate with.

With the AVID artist committee, which is the social platform that we’re building, you can create your profile and identify yourself as a singer or voiceover talent, a mixing engineer, whatever it is you do. You can have examples of your work there, you can even sell your work there. It’s also just great to make connections and help you make a living doing what you love instead of it be this thing where technology has moved so fast and left you isolated, but you might have the talent so we want to give you that opportunity.

MC: So what I’m getting is that you’re basically the future (laughs). I love what you’re doing, I think it’s great for artists to get their stuff up.
Cariddi: The best analogy for it is that you can try to make a better hammer year after year, but just from walking the halls of NAMM, there’s a million hammers out there, they’re all pretty good, and they’re all pretty inexpensive. So what that really means is we’ve reached that point where things are so easily available and you’re not really adding the value you once were. It really forced us to go, “What’s the real issue today?” And the issue is that there are millions of people creating, and the technology can get in the way because there’s so many versions of everything, and a lot of them don’t work together. Those are the types of issues that we’re trying to bridge.

MC: So my last question, if you could sum up in three words what you’re doing with AVID everywhere, what would they be?
Cariddi: Making it easier for people to create, collaborate and be heard.

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