Sharing economy: sharing is great for business

We’re living in a sharing economy, based on peer production. Although Apple and Microsoft tend to put DRM on their products, many other companies don’t believe this is the way to go.

Sharing has worked since the beginning of the Internet. It also worked for me. When I bought Reason version 1 and started the website I created a lot of free tutorials and Reason sound-sets/ReFills. Creative Commons didn’t exist around that time (6 years ago). It gained a lot of success and respect. And it resulted in me becomming one of Reason’s sound designers. As most of you know, I am responsible for many of the new sounds of the Factory SoundBank which comes with Reason 3 – see Melodiefabriek/sound-design.

Propellerhead but also Ableton Live is very successful because of their active communities which started sharing files over the Internet. An RNS-file or ReFill is super simple to share online, same as for an Ableton-song which is zipped. Ableton and Propellerhead are using compressed formats, Ableton even allows you to use lossy-compressed files like MP3. Let’s face it: Steinberg was never able to create the same sort of success. And let’s face this also: because of the use of expensive propriety plugins, sharing is a lot more difficult to achieve. So sharing files with Reason is easier than with Live. Although I should admit that you’re still not able to share bits from ReFills. A much wanted feature!

Modern companies should focus on the sharing aspects of our modern economy. Make your file-formats open, let anyone remix your work and share it with others. Don’t use DRM, ever! And put some less restricted copyright on it (like Creative Commons for example). Being able to add a Creative Commons license to a song publiced with Reason or Ableton Live could be very useful.

Update: Sharing is the future. Sometimes people send me some files which I can edit. Most of the time I am using FTP-servers or AllPeers. I think this is the future; people will send files to specialized people who can then add parts, change some of the details etc. Some people create some cool stuff with Reason but get lost when mixing and mastering. The devil is in the details. Using an RNS-file is a nice format so I can simply change all sorts of sounds, mix-settings and apply mastering effects to it. It’s not important where we live, we don’t need to be in the same room, but we can still work together. Therefore: file-formats should be as open as possible. People will share more and create music by sending files over the Internet. Propellerhead Reason is a great tool for this way of working because you don’t need extra plugins; it’s all included. The only thing which can be tricky is not being able to share sounds which are included in ReFills. I know that Propellerhead is aware of this.


Respect to Reason and Live, but what have they got to do with sharing? For example in Reason you can’t implement any outside plugins.

And what the outside world allows you is more important than what you want yourself, when you’re called Apple or whatever.

Remember the brilliant functionality in iTunes when you could browse in someone elses library and listen to his music? Didn’t last long thanks to the music industry!

What I meant to say is that the users have created a whole community based on sharing files when the file-formats allows you to do so. The Reason RNS-format is perfect for this. Ableton Live also allows you to share files, by simply zipping the als-file and the ‘Sounds’-folder.

Although outside plugins can be useful, it’s getting very complicated when we want to share our files with another musicians or engineers. I don’t miss this functionality in Reason because Reason allows you to create your own effects, using the Combinator. I like the fixed set of tools which are included in Reason, because:

  • The Reason devices are sounding great
  • It makes you more creative, because you need to focus on really learning those devices
  • Since everything is included in the package you don’t have to worry about plugin-management or future compatibility issues

But it takes time to create your own effects and synths in the Combinator. Sure, loading a couple of great sounding plugins would be great for many users. But I don’t think Propellerhead will ever add plugins to Reason, because of compatibility reasons.

Now with the Internet musicians are sharing the source-files to their songs. And I can see a lot of opportunity here. What if you’re not able to create the perfect mix yourself? What if you want someone to master your songs? What if your songs needs a couple of extra tracks/layers to make the song more interesting? A file format which can wrap everything into a single file is best for sharing. If someone sends me an RNS, I can change it, save it and send it back to the user.

I agree that what the outside world allows you to do can be restrictive. But one of the important things about the Internet is that public and companies are on exactly the same level. The music industry has sued a lot of children, websites and even tried to blame whole protocols like p2p and bittorrent. That’s not the solution. It also has proven that the public really knows what they want: they want to share their work and their collections with others. The success of Flickr and YouTube are great examples of this. Consumers are no longer only consuming, they are also active in sharing their collections and create new work based on those. So instead of sueing these people, they’d better focus on the new opportunities which are possible because of this.

I am very positive about this. The more democratized things are becoming, the better. We’re all the same after all 🙂

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