Waves Audio customers are in uproar at company's new subscription-only model: "What a disgusting way to treat your existing users"

(Image credit: Waves)
  • UPDATE: Waves Audio has now reversed its decision to adopt a subscription-only model. Find out more here. 

Earlier this week, Waves Audio announced that it would be adopting a subscription-only model called Waves Creative Access. This means customers will no longer be able to purchase the brand's plugins individually - in fact, the only way to access any Waves software will be to sign up to a tiered subscription service that ranges from $14.99 to $24.99 a month.

Existing owners of Waves plugins will be able to continue using their software free of charge, but only at the latest version they've bought or updated prior to the launch of Waves Creative Access. This means that owners of Waves plugins hoping to update their software to versions released in the future will be forced to purchase a Waves Creative Access subscription in order to continue using the plugins they've previously purchased. 

Waves' decision to adopt this subscription-only business model has provoked widespread outrage among its customer base. The company's official announcement on Twitter, which currently has over a million views, has been flooded with replies, many of which express vehement opposition to the company's new direction. Waves has chosen to hide a considerable number of particularly negative replies from view on the main thread, a decision that has prompted further criticism from its followers.

Though many commenters have expressed disapproval of the growing trend towards subscription models in the music software industry as a whole, the majority of respondents on Waves' official thread have taken issue specifically with the company's decision to prevent existing users from updating their software. 


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Those who have signed up to the company's Waves Update Plan will continue to receive updates for the duration of the coverage they've already purchased, but once that coverage expires, they won't be able to renew. This decision means Waves plugin owners updating their operating system or moving to a new machine will be forced to subscribe to Creative Access if they wish to continue using software that they've already spent money on.

Another point of contention is Waves' decision to implement such a sweeping change without any warning, a move which prompted Waves customer Matt Foster to start a petition urging the company to reinstate the Waves Update Plan for non-subscription customers, which has received over 1600 signatures at the time of writing. 

"I would kindly ask at the least for Waves to reinstate WUP, for those of us who would still be interested, preferably indefinitely - or at least for a period of 3 to 6 months," Foster writes. "Even that may be a tough ask of customers at this stage after a huge loss of trust."

"The preferred option would be to honour the original sale of perpetual licenses and continue to offer the WUP to existing customers - or offer it as an alternative to a subscription," Foster continues.

Disillusioned customers have even created and shared a crowdsourced spreadsheet to support those who are choosing to abandon previously purchased Waves products and search for decent alternatives. The spreadsheet lists several alternative options for almost every plugin offered by Waves Audio.

"This is a profit led decision not a customer led one and as such it's the wrong decision. Waves are now dead to me. Very, very disappointing," writes Twitter user Steve Holmes, in the hidden replies to Waves' official Twitter thread. Another respondent, Pat Servedio, comments: "What an awful business decision... I have been a Waves customer over 20 years. I will not go to a subscription plan so I guess my option is to stop using Waves plugins".

Twitter user fred_tm expressed his disappointment with the company, saying "Now I feel really betrayed. And this after all these years and thousands of dollars I've spent." Another commenter, Acid42, continues: "Talk about a poor customer experience. Customer loyalty is built up by trust— by many interactions between brand and customer. This decision, as well as the many poor ones in the past, has broken that trust even further. Were ANY customers consulted at all on this?"

"This could actually be the end of Waves Audio," suggests Twitter user ConstantLittleGhost. "But if you treat your customers like a cash cow, you probably deserve to go under."

Waves Audio has not yet responded to any criticism on its social media channels. “Since we started Waves, our goal has been to give all music and audio creators full, affordable access to the largest, most diverse set of top-quality audio tools,” the company told its customers earlier this week, in an email announcing Creative Access.

“Today, we take the next step. Whatever you are inspired to create, we want you to have everything you need - instantly at your fingertips, always.”

We've reached out to Waves Audio for comment. 

Matt Mullen
Tech Editor

I'm the Tech Editor for MusicRadar, working across everything from artist interviews to product news to tech tutorials. I love electronic music and I'm endlessly fascinated by the tools we use to make it. When I'm not behind my laptop keyboard, you'll find me behind a MIDI keyboard, carefully crafting the beginnings of another project that I'll ultimately abandon to the creative graveyard that is my overstuffed hard drive.

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