Prime Loops has launched Saucey Guitars Vol. 1 by Julez Jadon, a collection of 23 fresh guitar loops (including its stems) recorded with a Gibson Les Paul and a Fender Strat. The sauce doesn’t stop! Lately, we’ve been trying to put out more and more musical content that’s why we put together this new pack […]
Reverb has launched the official Chris Shiflett Reverb Shop, where you get the chance to pick up one of 20 different instruments from the lead guitarist for the rock band Foo Fighters. On a recent trip to the Foo Fighters’ rehearsal studio in L.A., guitarist Chris Shiflett told us, “I have an excess of guitars […]
VST Buzz has launched a sale on Distort 2 by Strezov Sampling, an electric guitar sample library designed for composers on a tight deadline. Distort 2 for Kontakt is perfect for creating instant electric guitar mockups and can be used clean (add your own FX and distortion) or with the pre-recorded FX and is perfect […]
One of Windows’ most powerful, most popular, most native-optimized audio tools is not only back from the dead, it’s available for free. A version of SONAR Platinum will be available free, and finally, it’s just called “Cakewalk.”
We learned back in February that Singapore-based BandLab acquired Cakewalk’s assets from Gibson. And in a sign this was a serious deal, they also got some of Cakewalk’s team, including top engineers Noel Borthwick and Ben Staton. That differs from a lot of ill-fated acquisitions; music technology assets are often fairly meaningless without the humans who worked on them.
Now, there’s more. This week, BandLab announced they’re re-releasing the DAW as “Cakewalk by BandLab.” And it is actually SONAR Platinum. You even get tools like the ProChannel modules for signal processing.
So, wait, what’s the catch? Well, you do need to install the BandLab client to download the DAW; this is bait for BandLab’s online services. And BandLab say that while this includes “the entire SONAR Platinum feature set” in a version with “full authentication and unlimited feature-access” for free, some of the bundled tools are evidently missing. Fortunately, at least, that appears limited to selected add-ons, not the core DAW:
Cakewalk by BandLab is a streamlined version of SONAR Platinum – and certain third party products and content bundles will no longer be included. Existing users who have already purchased bundles or individual third party products and plug-ins can still use those products with Cakewalk by BandLab.
This is still big news. Cakewalk was always a leader in support for 64-bit and Windows core technologies. SONAR supports touch, VST3, and other technologies missing from a lot of rival DAWs. And this could in fact reinvigorate the Windows platform for audio at a key moment. Heck, it might be a reason to consider a Surface Book with touch support, or to migrate to a fast laptop. SONAR requires some adjustment if you’re used to another DAW, but it’s got a long history in production.
On the Windows support site, this excerpt including a quote from Pete Brown is telling – Microsoft, lacking something like Apple’s Logic Pro, really need this:
Pete Brown, from Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group, said “We’re thrilled that Cakewalk has found a new home with a company that understands the musician community, and that cares sincerely about digital audio production. Cakewalk has been a great partner, working to make their DAW better for their customers by quickly adopting new Windows features like pen, Bluetooth MIDI, multi-touch, Dial, and more. We look forward to working closely with BandLab to continue this innovation.” Cakewalk by BandLab will support pen, touch and Surface Dial throughout the user interface.
And that comes on the heels of a pretty significant reorganization at Microsoft. (It’s a boost of confidence to Windows pro users, too, right when these frequent reorganizations in Redmond are … not confidence boosting.)
Oh yeah, and let’s be honest: even the most die-hard SONAR user tended to refer to their DAW as “Cakewalk.” (That’s true of “Ableton,” too, but it fits this product even better. SONAR’s predecessors for Windows and DOS were all called simply “Cakewalk”; the original vendor name was the geeky “Twelve Tone Systems.”)
So now Cakewalk is Cakewalk. And Cakewalk is free. That counts as some good news. (Now if I can make this run on Linux under WINE, I’ll be even happier still.)
I’ll give this a spin and see if I can offer up a decent beginners’ guide in time for the release.
You can get “early access” now via the site. (Other info is a bit vague, but you can grab the download.)
Cakewalk may not be all dead. A developer of online and mobile music creation tools has snapped up the former PC DAW maker’s complete intellectual property.
As I wrote earlier this week, Gibson Brands, the guitar maker-turned-wannabe consumer electronics giant, is hard up for cash. So, while they discontinued operation of their Cakewalk division, apparently they had not found a buyer for one of pro audio’s biggest names.
That changes today. Signapore-based BandLab announced they’ve acquired the “complete” intellectual property and “certain assets” in a deal with Gibson. There’s no word on what those assets are, and BandLab say they’re not making any additional announcement about the specifics – so we don’t know how much cash Gibson got or what those assets were. If the Nashville Post numbers are correct, it seems this will make little difference to Gibson’s debts, but that’s another story.
So Cakewalk’s codebase, product line, trademarks, everything go to BandLab. BandLab also has confirmed to CDM that some former Cakewalk team members will join the new company. (That itself is big news.)
And there’s some relief here: all those thirty years of accumulated expertise in making music software may not go entirely to waste.
BandLab is a familiar idea. There’s a mobile app with multiple tracks, automatic pitch correction, guitar/bass/vocal effects, and cloud sync, plus a grid-style riff interface and more traditional track layout. And there’s a free online tool you can use to collaborate with other people on the Internet and DAW features.
BandLab’s browser-based DAW.
Of the two, it’s the online DAW that looks most interesting, at least in that it’s more ambitious about incorporating desktop tools than some rivals. There’s built-in time stretching, automation, a guitar amp, and virtual instruments, for instance. I’m impressed on paper at least – I hadn’t heard of BandLab before today, to be honest, though it’s easy to lose track of various competing online solutions out there, since they tend to be somewhat similar.
And that raises the question – what’s the Cakewalk angle for BandLab?
I presumed on first blush this would be limited to assets relevant to their existing mobile products, but it seems it’s more than that. From the official press statement, it sounds as though you’ll see Cakewalk’s line of software – possibly including the flagship DAW SONAR, virtual instruments, and other tools – continue under the BandLab name. That’s been the case with other acquisitions of media creation software, if with mixed results in terms of development pace. From the press statement:
The teams at both Gibson and BandLab felt that Cakewalk’s products deserved a new home where development could continue. We are pleased to be supporting Cakewalk’s passionate community of creators to ensure they have access to the best possible features and music products under the BandLab Technologies banner.
Then there’s the product that was just seeing the light of day right when Gibson shuttered Cakewalk operations, the one with the unintentionally ironic name:
Momentum even looks quite a bit like BandLab’s mobile app. The mobile app and cloud sync solution runs on iOS and Android, with four-track recording, editing, looping and effects. And it cleverly captures ideas as recordings (via something with the dreadful name “Ideaspace”), then makes them available everywhere.
Momentum also has something that BandLab lacks – a VST/AU/AAX plug-in for Mac and Windows. Here’s the thing: it’s all fine and well to start talking about making music making easier, and reaching people with phone and browser apps. But even though big desktop DAWs don’t look terribly friendly, they’re still reasonably popular. Ableton Live alone has a user base the size of most major cities. Adding that plug-in could bridge Cakewalk’s product line and other desktop products with BandLab’s own mobile solutions.
And it’s not just the plug-in – Momentum also had an integrated cloud sync service and server-side infrastructure. (Plus don’t forget the ScratchPad iOS app. Well… maybe.)
BandLab’s mobile apps might be complemented either by Cakewalk’s mobile/cloud offerings or desktop products – or both.
So, we’ll see what BandLab are planning. Of course, the nostalgic part of me wants to see some of the soul of Cakewalk in what they do.
It seems from the way BandLab are handling the announcement that they share some of the same emotional attachment to Cakewalk that a lot of us do. For evidence, see what they’ve done to Cakewalk’s website, where there’s a headline reading:
“The news you’ve all been hoping for…”
Follow through to their own http://cakewalk.bandlab.com landing page for the acquisition, and there’s a charming ASCII art reading Cakewalk and a line reading “Cakewalk is dead. Long live Cakewalk!”
I’ve asked if any of the former Cakewalk team are joining the new effort. That would inspire more confidence than just selling these DAWs with minimal updates as-is. BandLab for their part promise a product roadmap and other details soon.
BandLab Technologies has announced the acquisition of certain assets and the complete intellectual property of Cakewalk Inc. from Gibson Brands. BandLab says its team is committed to not only continuing the legacy of Cakewalk’s products for the users around the world who rely on it in both their personal and professional lives, but also to […]
What’s as American as a Gibson guitar? Well, lately, perhaps iconic brands getting run into the ground by mismanagement at the top.
And that’s one way to read the situation with Gibson Brands. Gibson, the Nashville-based guitar company that also owns names like TEAC Tascam and some Philips consumer audio products, is running out of time to pay back debts.
What’s next? Bankruptcy – if the company isn’t successful in refinancing.
Various music press have in the past days jumped on reporting by the Nashville Post that is critical of current management and suggests that owner/CEO Henry Juszkiewicz doesn’t have much time left. It’s the Post writers guessing that Gibson won’t be able to do enough to calm creditors and bondholders. That is – they’re not making loan payments fast enough, or giving a clear explanation, and the people who loaned them the money are getting fed up.
Gibson, for their part, this month offered up their own strategy. The company said in a press statement that it “has met all current obligations to the bondholders, is in the process of arranging a new credit facility to replace the bonds, and fully expects the bonds to be refinanced in the ordinary course of business.”
They’re also bringing back Benson Woo as Chief Financial Officer.
But that raises both the question of whether they’ll deliver on refinancing promises, and how they got here in the first place.
It’s easy to assume that this is about the demise of the guitar, but that may be mistaken. Indeed, Gibson Brands’ revenue has been down. But guitar sales in the US and worldwide remain fairly stable, looking at larger trends. These are instruments that last you a long time, meaning it’s easy to defer purchases – so the state of the economy is a factor. But while the statistics are hard to get a hold of (these numbers tend to be sold, rather than shared freely), it’s not hard to find evidence that the guitar market remains healthy.
Here’s a good read from 2015, from a marketing blogger:
Guitars certainly face challenges: think cheaper imports and knockoffs, plus a huge used market (that’s also going to become more and more relevant to synth and modular sales). But looking at the larger numbers and music in general, musicians who want guitars remain loyal to the instrument, and they’re willing to pay for a brand.
The question isn’t what’s going on with guitars, but what’s going on at Gibson.
And there, you might look at their electronics business, where Gibson is seeing sales sagging dramatically versus plans. That’s important, because it’s also where Gibson acquired these debts in the first place – as I noted when Gibson sold Cakewalk, the consumer audio push seemed a fools’ errand. Gibson argued at the time they needed to off-load Cakewalk to support that consumer audio push – but that could in turn just dig them deeper, while sacrificing a small part of their business that was insufficient to pay back debts.
So, while the immediate narrative may be: “ah, the demise of the guitar,” maybe it should be more like, “ah, that company loaned a bunch of money to go into consumer audio and now can’t pay it back because they screwed up.” Too much appetite for consumer audio may wreck Gibson the guitar company.
And that’s in fact what the Post argues: that the story at Gibson is mismanagement. Here’s the money quote (so to speak), from Kevin Cassidy, a senior credit officer at Moody’s Investors Service:
“Some type of restructuring will be necessary,” Cassidy said. “The core business is a very stable business, and a sustainable one. But you have a balance sheet problem and an operational problem.”
It seems that has to fall to the leadership at the top – Henry Juszkiewicz, the company CEO and owner. It’s been Juszkiewicz that led this massive expansion, then failed to connect the consumer audio and technology vision to the core instrument business, then failed to keep up with debts as the strategy sagged. But irrespective of whether the buck should stop there, bankruptcy is likely to mean he’ll be unable to retain his current position.
That is, as either debtors or the bondholders get control of Gibson, it may actually be cause for some fans of the core instrument business to applaud. Normally in America, the credit holders are the villains and the plucky upstart business owner the hero – you’ve seen It’s a Wonderful Life. But lately, management losing focus in favor of growth suggests sometimes the people looking at the numbers have a point.
Whatever is about to hit the fan will likely do it soon. Gibson are set to report third quarter earnings and answer to concerns from debtors or bondholders. If the Post article is to be believed – and I suspect it is – you’ll see whatever happens next at Gibson shortly.
Sample Magic has launched the Ambient Textural Toolkit, a sample library featuring atmospheric ambiences, found sound hits and organic sounds. The pack comes with lush soundscapes, beautifully crafted analogue synths, spine-tingling piano shots and esoteric electronica. The Ambient Textural Toolkit is designed to be the standard collection for forward-thinking leftfield electronic music. With over 1GB+ […]
Plugin Boutique is offering users of Cakewalk’s SONAR music production software the opportunity to crossgrade to PreSonus Studio One Professional at a 50% discount. As Gibson has recently announced the end of active development of Cakewalk branded products, SONAR users may want to consider switching to the popular Studio One digital audio workstation. Instantly familiar, […]