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Musicians & Producers: Would You Pay For An Apple Software & Hardware Subscription?
Hollin Jones on Sun, February 11th 6 comments
An all-in-one subscription to Apple's software and hardware ecosystem is an interesting idea. Is this something that could help keep your gear current while keeping costs manageable?

Musicians and producers love their equipment. It's the heart of their studio and it enables them to be creative. But would you pay for an all-in-one Apple subscription that gave you access not only to things like Apple Music, movies and TV stations but also regular hardware upgrades for your phone, iPad and even your Mac as well as Logic Pro and other Apple products? Would you like to see Apple offer "Producer Bundles"? 

That's the intriguing question raised by a new suggestion by anaylst Horace Dediu that this is one way Apple could smooth out its revenue stream, which currently experiences significant peaks and troughs with seasonal variations especially in hardware sales. People are hanging on to their iPhones and Macs for longer than ever. Partly because they don't age as badly and also because the initial purchase cost is high. This means Apple risks becoming a "hit-driven" company rather than one that delivers smooth profits performance over time. 

When you actually stop and think about it, this isn't such a crazy idea. After all, Apple already operates several subscription models with Apple Music, iPhone upgrade plans and iCloud storage - and is widely believed to be developing a TV and movie subscription service as well. It wouldn't be a great stretch to create tiers or bundles that people could customise to suit their needs and that incorporated services, software and hardware. You can already spec up a new MacBook Pro, why not a bunch of other Apple products along with it?

From a music producer's perspective this could be a great move, not least because we tend to be quite a gear-hungry bunch, and also because music production really does test the limits of our computers so many producers are more frequent upgraders than the average Mac user. It would also have the advantage of spreading the not insignificant costs of new Apple hardware over time, as well as meaning you knew in advance what your monthly costs for it would be. As Apple develops Logic Pro, it woud be nice to know your updates would be rolled into a manageable monthly cost. 

On the other hand, there are still producers running older versions of Logic Pro X or other DAWs on older Macs that just work here and now. Upgrading a Mac every few years might not be in everyone's interest if the associated audio interfaces, MIDI controllers and other outboard gear needs to be upgraded to work with the new macOS or iOS that inevitably becomes standard issue with every Apple hardware upgrade. There is an argument for maintaining a stable hardware and software-based studio setup that does what you need and doesn't need to be "improved" upon every few years.

Let's imagine a couple of hypothetical Apple Musician Bundles:

1. Premium Package

A new MacBook Pro 15 inch, fully loaded every 3 years. A new 64GB flagship iPhone and iPad Pro every 2 years. Access to Apple Music, Apple TV and Movies and a HomePod. Lifetime updates of Logic Pro X and 1TB iCloud Storage. 

2.  Essential Package

A new 13 inch MacBook Pro every 3 years. A new mid range iPhone every 2 years. Access to Apple Music, Logic Pro X and 50GB iCloud storage. 

Obviously these are purely hypothetical bundles and the pricing would be anyone's guess, but they are certainly within Apple's capability to offer. There's also the well-known psychological factor that large sums seem less frightening when broken down into smaller regular payments - just look at any mortgage or car loan.  

Throw in health monitoring, an iCloud subscription, Apple Music, Apple’s original programming and more into a cable-television-like bundle, or a la carte, and Apple could go from being a hit-driven company to one that throws off predictable, consistent, subscription-based revenue. Think of it as Apple Prime. (Horace Dediu).

There are arguments against it too of course, although you'd have to assume these kinds of subscriptions would be optional, and not the only way to buy gear. Set bundles might be too restrictive for notoriously picky musician types who tend to be very specific about exactly what they want. And if you make the bundles hyper-customisable they could get too complex. Although it has departed somewhat from its founding philosophy of its entire product line having to fit on one table, Apple still doesn't like unneccessary clutter. 

So is this the kind of thing you'd like to see them do? What kind of deals would you like to see if Apple did go down this road? Would a subscription service entice you to use Apple products in your music studio, or put you off? Let us know in the comments!


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Comments (6)

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  • Ivandub
    I hate subsciption based software and I update hardware on an as-needed basis. That's one reason I still use Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 5.7 instad of Adobe's "Creative Cloud" model. I still store all my files on my computer and a backup and will not use iCloud or any other cloud service for privacy reasons. Who knows who's snooping your stuff while sitting on someone else's servers. So, that's a huge NO from me for anything subscription based although, having said that, Pro Tools does have a couple of reasonable looking plans but they give you the option to purchase the software outright, too. I, however, am a Logic Pro X user and am happy with the current system.
    • 3 years ago
    • By: Ivandub
  • Chris Catalano
    Thank you for being vocal about a bad idea that has already driven most of us into subscription oblivion.
    • 3 years ago
    • By: Chris Catalano
  • VenC
    I echo what the previous commenter expressed. Subscription-based services are just not something I need, at least not in music production. I feel like this sort of thing is trying to fill a gap that is not really there. I keep reading articles about how supposedly our software/hardware is not up to par with our demands and it comes up short when trying to create; leaving us unable to reach our sonic potential. In my view, this is a 'first-world' problem because I find that less is more. I truly believe that with a basic setup we can achieve the results we want albeit by putting the effort in and being diligent. Throwing a subscription service into our workflow and gear-buying habits will only increase our wanting of unnecessary tools that clog our studios and creative minds. In addition, if such a thing as a subscription service for music production was a good idea, I don't think Apple would be my first choice. With their high prices and in view of recent developments like their slowing of devices to compensate for battery degradation; I would not feel comfortable being stuck with a company that apart from Logic has not that much experience in the music production area. I see Native Instruments as a more suitable candidate and they may have already started with their '' incursion. Although you would lose the computer aspect side of the deal, which I understand is important. Just my 2 cents.
    • 3 years ago
    • By: VenC
  • Chris Catalano
    Great, another mortgage-like idea being thrown out there for everyone to be forced into adopting if it happens. No. Not ever, and please do not encourage this. My MacBook Pros have each run well over the 3 year “replacement” period and the model for choosing, purchasing, loading and taking care of the gear I have will always be the way I prefer.
    • 3 years ago
    • By: Chris Catalano
  • Gehakay
    I an an Apple user, but am not worried about "poor little Apple" and their need to smooth out their revenue stream. I have a feeling they will manage. As of today one Apple share is $161.39USD. Also, looking at Avid, those subscription models are not really a money saving way to go for the user.
    • 3 years ago
    • By: Gehakay
  • Francis7
    I'm not a fan of subscription models. I am sure there are good reasons for them but I like to "own" what I part money for. I am bemused that a new MacBook Pro 15 inch is considered premium. Maybe it is because I am old and my eyesight isn't as good as it once was but I could only ever work with a desktop with (at least) 2 X 24" displays. One of the main reasons was that I wanted a 2nd display to watch MPV videos on one and have the relevant software on the other screen. One 15" display would be torture for me and take the fun out of music making. But, it seems, 99% of people are happy to work with Macbooks etc. Very portable for those who need it. I must be in a very tiny minority. which is fine.
    • 3 years ago
    • By: Francis7
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