Last week was an interesting one to say the least. Music software giant Native Instruments succeeded with first pissing off a whole community, and then releasing something so damn weird you started to wonder if the people running Native Instruments are making their marketing decisions while being drunk.
What happened last week was this. Flagship product, super synthesizer and central sound organizing hub Kore is being discontinued.
As we all know, software instruments come and go, applications for making music come and go. There is no strange things about that. But the way Native Instruments pulled this off made me wonder how connected they are with its user base.
Firstly, if you push something so hard as Native Instruments have done with Kore, actively promoting that this was the ultimate synthesizer/tool in the studio and "Kore definitely has a very central role both in our technological portfolio and in our product strategy", you are making a commitment. A long term commitment. The quote is from Stephan Schmitt, the founder of Native Instruments and was made during version 2 of Kore. Kore 2 is where we are at now and there will not be any Kore 3.
It certainly doesn't help that a couple of months before the discontinuation, the most well-known administrator at Native Instruments forums assured publicly that 'Kore is far from being dead'.
In a grand gesture Native Instruments showed their path forward by announcing that Maschine will continue the legacy of Kore and for a limited time, Kore users can crossgrade into Maschine.
It doesn't even cross the minds of the people in charge of Native Instruments that many users who are using Kore aren't even remotely interested in Maschine. They are totally different products with totally different uses.
A bitter pill indeed to swallow for many users, but let's play along with the proposal.
It is surprising how ignorant Native Instruments have become. Anyone with some level of presence in music production forums knows how happy people became when IK Multimedia finally separated the processors from their T-Racks and released them as separate plugins.
-Hooray, said the people.
-Let's build our next generation of studio tools inside a guitar plugin, said Native Instruments.
It's usually said we who live in a market economy vote with our money. While this is true, the reality is more complex. Some products comes into our ownership without us actually wanting them. In the example of Native Instruments, the Komplete bundle. While I own Komplete 7 - how many of the included products would I have bought separately? Maybe half. Maybe less. How good value is a bundle like Komplete then? Even you get it for a bargain price. Stuff you won't need is still stuff you don't need, even you got it for a no-brainer price. I had to resist very hard not to catch on the latest D16 groupbuy. I didn't need any of them - even if I got six effects for the price of one. I'm not using Battery more than I did before I didn't own it.
With this in mind, I cannot escape wondering if Battery (for example) wouldn't have been discontinued due to lack in sales if it wasn't included in the Komplete bundle. Or FM8. Or Reaktor for that matter. I wonder if Native Instruments view a sale of one separate product equal with one sale part of Komplete? It's obvious to me that a person who buys a specific product is a potentially more dedicated user of that product, than a person who buys a whole bundle are equally enthusiastic about all titles in the bundle.
Why is it so important for Native Instruments to discontinue Kore in the first place? It's not like Kore have seen more updates than Battery or FM8 during the last five years.
So, to leave this whole tragic story behind us, I want to draw a few highly personal memos.
It's a damn shame really, this whole development with Native Instruments. In the early days they had an entirely different spirit. Pro-5 came out - people raved about the sound. B4 created major headlines. FM7 came out - people went wild. They did things no-one else did and they did it well. At that time, Native Instruments could do nothing wrong. Today their clearest replies goes out to suspend users in their forum who voice their frustration.
And to all the people who are happy that more focus are set onto Maschine, keep in mind that Native Instruments assured the users that Kore was a central part of their product line not long time ago - exactly what Native Instruments are saying about Maschine today. Which - what the last few days of announcements have shown - means nothing.
As always, my highly personal thoughts. But I am honestly quite sad about all this.