A sigh of relief came to many in the audio production field this week after the software company Waves reversed a plan to exclusively sell its audio plug-in library via a subscription. The subscription offers Waves Essential at $14.99 per month and Waves Ultimate for $24.99 per month and launched as a permanent replacement for purchasing perpetual licenses for individual products. Now, Waves chief technical officer and co-founder Meir Shashoua says those options will return “as quickly as possible.”
For the first week after the Waves Creative Access subscription was initially announced, the move upset many music producers and audio engineers who have already been paying subscriptions for a variety of creative software, like Avid Pro Tools, Adobe Creative Suite, Universal Audio’s UAD Spark, and many sound libraries.
Now, Waves notes on its website that users “who already own perpetual licenses will once again be able to update your plugins and receive a second license via the Waves Update Plan—again, just as before. This option, too, will be available alongside and independently of the subscription program.”
Though a victory for users, it is unknown how long Waves will continue to keep the perpetual license around. The company has dealt with piracy of its software for years, with Waves plug-ins being some of the most cracked software for amateur audio technicians. The subscription model for Waves seemed imminent, with most of the bigger names in audio software already offering subscriptions for production software libraries in order to create higher recurring revenue and prevent piracy. Adobe, for example, reported it brought down piracy of its products significantly since the launch of Creative Suite and individual annual licenses to software like Photoshop and Premiere Pro.
Despite the backlash, some users may find the Waves Creative Access subscription beneficial — existing users who continually update their plug-ins each year with the Waves Update Plan (which adds support to updated digital audio workstations and operating systems) may end up saving money annually, as the Essential package, at $149, is about the same price as upgrading two or three plug-ins each year.
To convince new or casual users to pay for a subscription to 100-plus audio plug-ins, Waves has also launched StudioVerse, a community-based library of plug-in chains that currently consists of customized plug-in presets and preferred combos of plug-ins curated by famous music producers like Chris Lord-Alge, Manny Marroquin, and Young Guru. Waves subscribers would be able to use the StudioVerse plug-in’s AI in their DAW to analyze their mix and recommend plug-in chains for shaping the sound of their music. This feature is only accessible through the Waves Creative Access subscription.
So for now, Waves-dependent audio engineers are safe to choose which software package makes the most sense for their work, whether it’s one or two plug-ins or a monthly subscription to a library. With this model, it may be the most accessible the company has ever been (legally).