There are software updates, and then there are FL Studio updates. The latest version of this widely-used DAW features a new synth and AI-driven stem separation, plus a new cloud service to help you get your music distributed. And it's only a point update! But as good as all that sounds, there might be a catch if you want it all…
From its very first iteration as Fruity Loops a quarter of a century ago, FL Studio's developer, Image-Line, has always been generous with its updates – not least by making them free for life from the very start. Imagine how smug (and how old) a v1 Fruity Loops buyer is right now. They've had 25 years of free updates, and with this latest version they're getting a free synth, stem separation technology and a magic cloud to release their music.
The first addition in v21.2 – again, that is '.2', not 'v22' or 'v25' – is the synth (above) which might not look that exciting at first, but strangely familiar on closer inspection. Yes, 'Kepler' is based on the Roland Juno-6 and features the same DCO/Filter/LFO front panel and even the famous Juno chorus. Image-Line says, "very careful attention was paid to analyzing the oscillators, filters and interaction of the controls to make a sound that does justice to the original classic".
Next is the new stem separation feature. This allows any audio to be split into its component parts – usually by frequency band – so you can take instruments and vocals out of stereo mixes, for example. There are various plugins that do this, of course, but Image-Line has built the feature in so you can do separation "directly from within FL Studio".
It's fair to say, though, that Image-Line is more excited about the cloud addition to FL Studio, probably as this has the greatest revenue potential and will keep those free updates coming. The new cloud service is called – three guesses – FL Cloud which as well as being a shop window to buy extra artist samples, loops and one shots, is also designed to be a link between your DAW music-making and your potential audience.
On top of the extra samples for your music making, you can access AI-powered mastering, and hopefully some fans. FL Cloud also lets you distribute your music to streaming platforms through DistroKid, a service that describes itself as "the easiest way for musicians to get music into Spotify".
Distrokid claims to do a lot for its customers, including getting them paid when their music is used on YouTube, creating videos for them and getting them access to a official YouTube artist channel.
Of course, all of these cloud extras are going to cost, although Image-Line says that "FL Cloud includes free features for all FL Studio users". However, the bulk of the fun stuff will be on subscription at $7.99 a month or $79.99 a year. There's also a special introductory annual subscription price of $49.99.