crusher-X Pricing Statement

We like to share some of our observations and thoughts on our accSone pricing and paid upgrade approach – to state it crisp and short: In the interest of our customers we’re not willing to contribute to the current price collapse of the audio plug-in industry. Find here our rationale:

Two trends:

We observed in the last years a strong pricing trend in the plug-in industry: A lot of seasonal discounts flooding the market and come along like a “Black Friday” sales, “Cyber Week”, “Summer Sales”, “X-Max offer”, “February discount” sometimes in the range of “50% off” but also blatant offers like “90% off” popping up nearly daily. Platforms like KVR and other platforms are contributing with specialized newsletters to that trend. Some of these offers are automated generated, driven by specialized reselling services that acting like platforms to the plug-in vendors “to resell” their products (e.g. like the Xchange Market Platform). As this was a general industry trend we also joined these platforms with the goal to increase the visibility and make the product more accessible to more people. These platforms aim to become a gatekeeper to the reseller market. Currently margins claims of these channels are 40% and higher. But until now we didn’t experience that they contributed with any additional value for the customers (e.g. like additional tutorials, product explanation or advanced support). On top of that, today’s possibility to shop across nations creates a challenge to deal with local tax obligations that makes it around 20% more expensive to sell a product in your local market. In the end – even if we would sell 10 times more (more to expect is unreasonable as we’re acting in a niche market) – it makes it very hard to generate a sustainable business from these reselling channels. Luckily there are some honorable exceptions with local dealers where individual Product Managers bypasses these channels and are open for direct reselling contracts!

There is another trend in the plug-in industry observable that might not be so obviously for consumers: Development SDKs like JUCE allows developers to rapidly create plug-ins that support a various kind of plug-in formats. These SDKs are very efficient and represent a very low-level entry barrier to start coding a plug-in. With an attractive entry level pricing these kinds of platforms are looking very helpful to start development though they come with the risk to be bound towards a single coding standard and an external driven life-cycle. An external framework provider comes with their own product strategy and business model that adds additional long term risks to the end product. As much we like the idea of accessibility for developers to unleash plug-in dreams we can’t ignore that the market is also flooded with a lot of plug-ins of questionable value due to that.

So, we are facing two strong factors that characterizes the today's plug-in market: Aggressive, sometimes automated generated pricing combined with a huge flooding of all kind of plug-ins with a questionable quality or business models behind. On the one hand this creates a competitive environment to the advantage of the customer, but it also comes with the burden of judging on the plug-ins value for the own artistic approach. We feel with our customers assuming to sort out these things are not fun and it probably becomes easily frustrating after a while to stay on top of that ongoing “price lottery” …

Our thoughts:

After several discussions with our business partners and supportive customers we decided to don't support that “underbid circle” from crusher-X 8 on and change our pricing strategy towards a dedicated customer group: professional sound designers, composers and sophisticated musicians.

Why? Let’s explain our background first: We all come from a background of electronic music. Xenakis, Truax, Roads are our “heroes”. Composers like Ulrich Müller or Ludger Brümmer inspired the roots of crusher-X and we felt deeply responsible to carry the idea of granular synthesis to the next century. We are more than happy that more and more musicians and composers are interested to explore the world of sound design and advance, multichannel sound composing. How to support that trend in a serious, sustainable way? Here are some of our findings:

We aim to:

  • Provide exceptional fast and personal customer support. Sort out problems interactively on the fly.
  • Provide a very long-lasting and consistent product life-cycles and upgrade compatibility to ensure composers investment into the tool and their generated patches, working-time and data. crusher-X is in the market since more than 20 years.
  • Delivery rock solid, live proven quality as the tool is often used in live situations
  • Provide an extraordinary roadmap and create outstanding product values. We aim to grow together with our customers, their artistic demands and beyond
  • Deliver cutting edge experiences, aim for high UX, invent new ways to do things – even beyond classical framework constrains if needed
  • Inspire the serious sound design and electronic music industry

How to do that?

  • Appreciate and feature our customers compositions, music and products
  • Appreciate, keep and foster deep musical and digital signal processing knowledge about advanced audio synthesis in the company
  • Provide an exceptionally trained support staff that knows about the customer needs as they are also practically using the tool as musicians or composers
  • Provide a long-lasting beta test period before each release. Don’t commit on a release date, just make the product ready and then release
  • Concentrate on a core product, named crusher-X
  • Provide regular, free updates for release stabilization
  • Be a part of the artistic community, inspire the industry, compose music and examples by our self, publish regular
  • Provide accessibility for visual impaired / blind composers
  • Allow accessibility for everyone by providing a non-time limited demo version that allows to explore the full sonic potential of the tool
  • Keep our independents from investors, platforms and 3rd party tools to being able to decide always for the above values
  • Take care of our self to stay able to provide the above in the next decades.

Conclusion:

Yes, we need to financially backing up these goals as we are living in the real world. We must secure our health, secure the peoples income around us and provide support for our children. With the experiences from the last years experiments we carefully calculated the current pricing scheme and decided to bet on a pricing strategy that stays in balance to the aimed product value as we stated above. And as we see our current metrics it seems that most of our customers appreciates the above values and ideas and continuously invest in our common progress and product quality. We believe that the decision for a plug-in that should provide core value to your music business and composition ideas is not trivial: It is not only a question of “short term desirability” or “buying impulse” but it is likely based on a carefully applied analysis and validation of investment you are willing to take versus the products value and the way the product will impact your own creativity, your own product or artistic result. We hope the above statements could provide some insights to our thought process and contributes to your understanding of our current pricing strategy.

Free update and paid upgrade:

We following the idea to make a product as sustainable as possible. That means that we stabilize every major version with free updates to make the community and every customer most happy with their investment. From time to time we invent new stuff and that will be released in new versions that are called major upgrades. There is an upgrade path with a reduced price for every customer of older crusher-X versions (even for those who purchased the version 1.22, release 1999 !). Here is the rational why we don't follow an idea of an tiered upgrade offer:

We don't want to add a "force" to the customer to stay up to date. We don't want that you will find yourself in that "tragic rush circle" that turns around the "missed chance" only. Where to draw the line? We don't want to support that thinking! We want that you to feel happy with your current version and use it as much you can (there are a lot users out there that are extremely happy e.g. with version 5 or 6) and - in case you feel to decide for the new features because e.g. you find them useful for your new project - you have all the time you need to decide for the upgrade. So we don't want to punish our customers who are happy with using their investments a long time. In our view this is a much more sustainable position that values the current development and our customers creative rhythm versus an aggressive "get a discount now if you decide fast today" call for action. From our viewpoint this is a doom loop and it turns out in a non-creative, hectic living that has all the potential for stress and harm if applied long term.

Of course we have a very generous way to deal with "corner cases" like if you had purchased the older version a couple of weeks or months before the new one releases: Just drop us a line and we will find a solution for you.

Hopefully this statement helps you to find an answer to the question: “What I’m willing to invest to support our today's sound design ecosystem and what I’m gaining for my creativity while purchasing this cutting edge, high sustainable product?” We’re more than happy to discuss and develop our thoughts further with you and our customers.

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accSone 2019