The music software company Propellerhead has recently closed its forums. At the same time they released a new music collaboration service called Discover. A service that lacks a way to communicate. But how can we collaborate if we are not able to communicate?
Tell me about communication! Me being a Dutch guy trying to do my best to express myself in a language that is not my own. But I am not complaining because thanks to the English language I am able to connect to many people around the globe.
The Reason community
I remember how I completely fell in love with Reason music software when I found out about it in early 2001. After downloading the trial version I bought it the next day. And soon I began sharing patches and sounds with other Reason users via my personal blog.
My first sampler, in the early 90’s, was the Ensoniq Mirage. But thanks to Reason and the cool community behind it I could now share these sounds with any worldwide user and receive feedback on them. And I got better and better at it. Then in April 2003 I started my own company Melodiefabriek and Propellerhead software was among the first companies to hire me for sound design. Now they were paying me instead I was paying them!
This turned into a continues collaboration between my company Melodiefabriek and Propellerhead. But we’re all individuals, to quote a famous Monty Python movie. I don’t have to approve everything they do. And vice versa. One thing that was always clear was this: they are an extremely closed company. They will never ever share any information with anybody outside the company before they are 100% sure about what message they want to communicate.
What would Propellerhead do?
I know that the Props will not blame other companies for faulty software, like a bad ReWire implementation for example. And all the discussions about “Reason sucks because it has a bad sound engine” must have been painful for them, but they stayed away from it. Propellerhead got blamed a lot but often didn’t say a word.
I don’t want to say they are bad communicators, because they are not. But I do feel they should communicate more directly and openly. They should be more outspoken in my opinion. I simply want to hear these people more often because they are true experts. This is what the blogosphere brought us. Your products need to be perfect, but your thoughts, your experiments, please share them. Please tell me what’s going on.
Discover is a collaboration service that lacks communication
Discover is the new online collaboration service of Propellerheads software (see discover.propellerheads.se). I have written a post about it a couple of weeks ago. With this Discover service you can reuse somebody else’s music. Here’s a promo video of Discover:
And sure, it works. But anyone who has ever collaborated with other people must notice the big thing missing here: a way to contact a person. Getting in touch with somebody you are collaborating with is essential. But when I click on a username in Discover all I get to see is a list of tracks I can reuse but no personal details about the person or contact details. There is simply no way to contact them. And since the Props have also killed their own community, the forums, this collaboration services feels simply weird and totally unconnected to me.
I can proudly say I am a collaboration expert. I was an early adopter of Creative Commons licenses for my music. And for years I collaborated on sites like em411.com and ccmixter.org. And I am a part of Disquiet Junto as well as some other online collaboration services. Some of my CC music is used on Creative Commons promo CDs and ended up in all sorts of non-profit productions. Over the years I have given many lectures and speeches about CC in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Without a way to communicate, collaboration feels wrong to me. It feels like someone simply takes what I have made and turns it into something else. Discover will not give you attribution as an artist, which is a serious mistake in my opinion. But not being able to communicate with the people you work with is even a bigger mistake.
Please rethink this Propellerhead. I know you are human.