United Plugins caused a stir when it launched in June – three different effects built by three different developers? That’s different, we thought.
There’s a strategy at play of course and if the coming together of several big brains from the audio industry results a world with a greater net total of cool audio plugins, then we’re all for it.
We tracked down communication director at United Plugins (and co-owner at SounDevice Digital) Jakub Tureček and hit him with the hard questions.
Laptop Guitarist: United Plugins is the amalgamation of JMG Sound, FireSonic and SounDevice Digital – with input from MeldaProduction. How did the union come about?
Jakub: It is all just personal. Soundevice, MeldaProduction and FireSonic are based in Prague, Czech Republic’s capital. We are basically neighbours, friends. JMG’s founder Jason Gibbins is from England, but also in long-term relationship with Melda. We are united by the passion to make music and personal friendship, sort of speak.
What’s the rationale behind the union? What are you looking to do better?
To start a plugin company alone with just one plugin is not an easy job. There‘s a lot of work which is not music-associated at all. Creating a webshop, distribution network, promotion, public relations, running all necessary consumes the time the developers could spend on creation. The union does this ‘dirty job’ for the small developers so that they could concentrate on the important thing: the job they are good at.
It’s analogic to being a band. You start composing, you make songs, rehearse and you are ready for the first gig. But suddenly you realize, that someone has to take care of the booking, transport, promotion, production. (Not mentioning, you mostly have to have a regular job to survive the band’s beginning.) And if that someone is a band member he hasn’t got time to compose, rehearse and the band works slower than expected. That leads to frustration and not many bands survive that.
You mention on your website that your developers are “seeking the freedom to create the tools that they would like to use in their studios and on their projects”. Could you tell me a little more about that? Is it about having someone handling the business side of things while developers do what they do best? Or something else?
Well, if you are in a big corporate company, you are driven by all sorts of corporate forecasts, long term plans and you basically have to obey the company’s long term strategy. What makes United Plugins different is that we can start working on any project as soon as we find it attractive. Other members of UP work as consultants but each of us has a chance to create plugins the way they believe it is the best. Therefore you may see the big differences between the products. Jason Gibbins from JMG is a sound designer and he likes to have access to many parameters so that he could polish every little detail.
Boris Carloff, the founder of Soundevice is a great fan of vintage gear and so logically the first Soundevice product is a vintage compressor.
All the plugins reflect our particular personalities. And so we plan it to be in future.
What does MeldaProduction bring to the table in the group? How are they helping this project?
MeldaProduction allowed United Plugins to use their protection system and license distribution system. They share their long term experience on the market and some programming capacities as well.
So how many people are involved in the new group? How big is the company as of today?
Very small – each of the brands is represented by one to three people. Let’s say less than ten people.
What’s the market like for plugin developers? What are the challenges?
It’s probably tougher than it was years ago when I entered it for the first time on the manufacturers’ side (I was a part of Audified team). There are lots of great brands offering unique software. We are fans (and often friends) of many of them. But it is very hard to attract any attention and bring great products at a suitable price.
Is piracy a serious issue in the plugin development community?
Well, yes and no. But I cannot talk for the whole community. I believe people, who buy software, the pros or the people who take the creation seriously, would buy software even if it wouldn’t be protected at all. They realize how much work and effort there is behind creating something so complex. It’s like studio work. No matter if you are making a plugin or a record it takes a lot of time. The people who buy software understand that behind their tools there are working people trying to feed their families.
How important is a good licensing system?
Very important. But let’s not confuse good licensing system with strong protection. We believe the licensing system should be easy – not to punish and harass the people who buy the software.
We value those who wish to pay for our plugins. Our customers activate their plugins easily and on as many computers as they need. We want the producers and musicians to concentrate on music, not IT.
What are your big plans for United Plugins? In a perfect world what, would you like to achieve?
We want to grow the audience of producers, musicians and sound engineers so big that it would let us create more great tools. In a perfect world a United Plugins effect or tool will be installed and regularly used in every studio around the world.
What’s coming next? When is the next plugin set for release?
We are hoping for late summer. There are semi-finished projects already and tons of ideas. So let’s say as-soon-as-possible. We will definitely let you know.