Should I buy music software on Black Friday?

Music producer working in the studio
(Image credit: Getty)

Black Friday and Cyber Monday – this year taking place on November 25 and 28 respectively – have become essential events for grabbing bargains in time for Christmas. Indeed the whole weekend has become focussed on deals being done on as many products as possible, with Black Friday covering just about everything and Cyber Monday aiming itself more at users of tech gear, smaller gifts, computers and software. This is particularly relevant to this feature as we're looking at music instrument plugins and whether you really should take advantage of this year’s Black Friday plugin deals.

We've got tips on getting deals, advice on how to plan your Black Friday strategy and even details on getting some early software discounts right now. However, the way you buy music software plugins is changing fast, so first up we'll give you a quick rundown of what you might expect when it comes to buying plugins and getting deals this Black Friday. 

Many music software companies - Native Instruments, UVI and SSL to name just three - offer subscription services for their plugins. Here you pay a monthly fee - usually between £/$5 and £/$25 - and get an entire suite of software in return. While these services are aimed more at pro users, they are a great way to sample entire bundles of software, although you'll lose them when you stop paying the subscription. Subscription services have now become such big business in the music software world that we would expect and hope for some special subscription packages to be made available over Black Friday weekend (and especially on Cyber Monday).

The next best way to buy music software plugins is in bundle form. Like a subscription you might get an entire suite of software - like Arturia's V-Collection, Native Instruments' Komplete or Waves' Gold Bundle - but this time you pay a one off, but larger, fee. There's no need to worry about any further monthly payments though - you own the software for good - and the price is always a much better deal than buying all the software titles individually. Again, expect to see big discounts on software bundles come November 25th. 

Finally, of course, you can buy individual music software plugins, which you'll also find great deals on over Black Friday weekend, and this has its advantages: it's less cash outlay and less 'plugin bloat' - that is having a lot of plugins on your computer that you may never use. 

So, let's have a quick rundown of six great reasons to buy music software this Black Friday, what you might expect to see reduced, plus some top tips for getting the best deals. 

Music producer sat in front of his keyboard and computer monitor

(Image credit: Getty)

1. Price

Getting a discount is obviously your main aim for November 25th - 28th and why we all love a Black Friday deal. We've covered the three main ways of buying music software plugins above but one other general rule is the more you buy, the more discount you will get - but do remember that dreaded plugin bloat. We've got some of the best Black Friday deals you can get now - plus some we'd like to see - below.

2. Many deals will be the biggest discounts of the year

When buying music software plugins, it's very easy to believe there will be a better deal around the corner as some companies do offer fantastic deals all year round. But Black Friday and Cyber Monday will usually generate the biggest discounts as there are more people buying for Christmas, so companies can afford to be that bit more generous. You could wait for New Year deals but you might be disappointed. We've found that in recent years especially, the better bargains are usually on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

3. It's not just software!

Some retailers might be offering combination deals of software and hardware. This means you can enhance your studio in other ways, perhaps with a recording microphone or pair of studio headphones thrown in as part of the deal. Our advice here is to make sure you check the return policy of the site - most trusted sites have great customer relations here - so if you get over excited with too many purchases, you can get a refund down the line.

4. Plugins are great presents!

You might not have thought about giving a piece of software as a Christmas present. However, any producer will tell you that 'just one more plugin might make all the difference' with the latest tracks they are working on. Give a gift of music making with a choice bundle of effects or a great synth this Christmas (but bag a great deal on it a month before).

5. It's a great time to experiment with your plugin choices

You might have been thinking about adding plugins to your home studio but been put off by the price or the uncertainty of trying something new. Well now is the time to leap in with both feet! As well as great bundle deals, there will always be individual deals on software, or even 'buy one get one free' deals. And talking of 'free'…

6. FREE Plugins!

Some stores, as we shall see below, might even be offering free plugins - you really can't get a cheaper deal than that!

What deals can I expect?

Man writes down lyrics in his studio

(Image credit: Getty)

We already know of a number of great software deals. Waves has kicked off its early bird black Friday event early with 60 killer plugins from as low as $24.99. IK Multimedia currently has a number of good Cyber Season offers and free software deals running. And if you are a guitarist or just in need of guitar software, Positive Grid does some great titles including BIAS and Peak and they are currently discounted ahead in their official Black November sale

Deals we'd like to see

Certainly not confirmed but here are some bargains we'd love to see: Steinberg's Cubase is one of the best and longest standing DAWs for making music, but at nearly £/$500 for the full version we'd love to see a smidgen of discount. How about it Steinberg? Arturia's V-Collection v9 is a huge set of 33 synths and keyboards. €599 isn't a lot to pay considering what you get, but if you don't ask for a discount, you don't get! Finally, East West's Forbidden Planet is a trip off world for creating soundtracks with a sci-fi twist. $399 is not a lot to pay to leave the earth, but reduce it by a few dollars and it's one we'd definitely take. 

How can I prepare for Black Friday?

Before the main event of Black Friday, it's a good idea to have a list of software titles you are interested in - compressors, synths etc - so you can go in and hunt for deals for each one or as part of a bundle. Also check prices of your plugins list pre-Black Friday to make sure the Black Friday deals really are deals. When buying bundles or subscriptions, it is very easy to upgrade to 'the next one up' or 'the next best subscription service' and find you have a load of titles you'll never use. Really consider, then, what you need compared to what is on offer. And if you have found an amazing discounted subscription service, check the small print for how long the discount actually lasts. 

Finally, which sites are best? Often buying direct from plugin manufacturer websites or trusted dealers like Plugin Boutique will get you the best deals. Avoid suspicious sites that you haven't heard of, even if they are claiming huge discounts. Finally, it's also worth signing up to newsletters from your favourite software developers and online gear retailers now. They will be revealing their big discounts soon, and you might even be able to get in and grab an early deal. 

Shop early Black Friday offers now

Andy Jones

Andy has been writing about music production and technology for 30 years having started out on Music Technology magazine back in 1992. He has edited the magazines Future Music, Keyboard Review, MusicTech and Computer Music, which he helped launch back in 1998. He owns way too many synthesizers.

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