On Wednesday, Minimal Audio announced the release of Current, a virtual instrument plugin that featured a number of synth engines, all of Minimal's audio effects and a cloud-connected content platform.
On release, the plugin was only available to customers on a subscription plan that ranged from $10-$15 a month. Many of Minimal Audio's users weren't happy with this decision, and the decision to offer the synth exclusively on a subscription basis provoked widespread criticism across social media.
Some wanted to purchase only the synth without being forced to pay for samples and presets they didn't want, while others were unhappy that they'd already purchased Minimal Audio's effects plugins and would now effectively be paying twice for those if they wanted to access the synth. Many voiced a general disapproval of the growing trend of subscription-based products in the music tech industry.
Yesterday, Minimal Audio posted a video addressing these concerns and informing its customers that the subscription model would be ditched in favour of a new pricing plan.
Current will now be available on a rent-to-own basis ($15/month or $120/year) that gives customers instant access to everything it offers: the synth, the effects and all of the sounds and presets on the Stream content platform. After each year of payment, customers will receive credit equal to their subscription spending, which can be used to purchase perpetual licenses on products of their choosing.
In addition to the rent-to-own plan, customers also have the option to purchase a 'basic' version of Current for $200. This will give customers access to Current's synth engines and effects without the cloud-integrated content platform, while individual sound and preset packs can still be purchased separately. Effects can be used within Current but not as standalone plugins.
"Our goal with Current was to build a constantly evolving synthesis ecosystem. We wanted to make sure everybody experienced what our vision for that product is. But after everybody's feedback, we realized that it doesn't make sense when if you want to leave the system you lose access to all that stuff after being on it for such a long period of time," says Minimal Audio CEO Jake Penn.
"I want to apologise for how poorly thought-out this was [...] we were so focused on the product that we lost a business vision that made sense in terms of pricing, the products on the website and the value to the user. We will fix it, and we hope that you guys will give us another chance."
Back in March, plugin manufacturer Waves decided to adopt a similar subscription-only model and prevent existing users from updating previously purchased software. After vehement criticism from the online community, Waves also changed its mind and apologized to its customers.