Gatekeeping your best distribution channel: Music Software Piracy

10 Dec

I ran across an interesting Reddit post today:

“I sometimes wonder if the reason Reason is getting less popular is because they piracy-protected it so well. I mean, FL is probably partially popular because 90% of its users can just torrent it. They’ve protected it so well that kids can’t download a recent version, therefore are not easily going to pick up on it, not create tutorials, not tell their friends etcetera. Not sure about this theory, just wondering. Wondering what you guys think.”

Why is this interesting? The Reddit poster poses an interesting theory where Propellerhead Software, the developer of Reason has stunted the proliferation of Reason as viable music production tool due to its Draconian licensing practices. This posture seems reasonable if you consider a few things. Not all software users are participating members of the profit driven licensing model. Many FREE tutorial and instructional videos available on YouTube are created by younger users without access to the funds or means to legally purchase (license) software and plugins. The best informational resources may be developed and distributed by these non-paying users.

The idea here is that the non paying, pirating users of Reason would make Propellerhead’s most effective street team and increase the software’s popularity and user base. Of course, this idea isn’t limited to just Propellerhead Software but extends to many types of developers and non-software distribution models (think about your own music). It’s a fact that many of us beatmakers and producers start out using pirated software and eventually purchase it at some point during our careers. This is becoming easier, more affordable, and enticing with subscription based software and plugin licensing.

What are your thoughts? Do you think piracy serves a greater marketing purpose? Are some developers too restrictive and draconian with their licensing?