At the time of this article, August, 2019, Pro Tools is not subscription only but recent events hint that Avid may one day decide to make Pro Tools Subscription Only or may make it less ideal to buy a perceptual license than it is right now.
If you want to grab a perpetual license of Pro Tools, meaning you own it for life, at the time of writing this article you can grab that from the avid website. For Pro Tools Ultimate, it’s not one of the main options when you click on Buy Now. Instead, it’s hidden down the bottom of the page under ‘looking for perceptual license, click here. Which will bring you to this page.
If you want updates though, you’ll have to be on a “support plan” which is really a subscription anyway but we’ll talk more about that later.
Hints that Pro Tools Might be Moving to Subscription Only
This is the first hint that they might be trying to phase out the perpetual license by hiding it on their website.
However, the biggest reason why lots of people in the music industry right now are thinking that Avid will phase out perpetual licenses for Pro Tools is actually a post by those operating Avid’s Facebook page who first posted the recent price increase.
Although this post has now been deleted off their Facebook page, allegedly due to bad PR from people on Facebook , the notice was copied on multiple reputable websites prior, such as here, here and here.
The post featured an FAQ which read:
Q – Will Avid still offer BOTH perpetual and subscription offerings?
A – We will continue to offer perpetual pricing as an option. However, going forward the preferred pricing model will be subscription-based pricing, because this is the direction of the entire industry and the way people would prefer to license software. In addition, Avid will continue to offer perpetual renewal programs for all products.
Q – Will Avid still support dongles?
A – Yes, Avid will support dongles and iLok for managing their licenses.
Q – Will Avid still support Perpetual reinstatement programs?
A – Avid will continue to offer reinstatements
Q – If my Support Contract on my Perpetual license expires after July 1, 2019, can it be removed beforehand at the older price?
A – Yes, you can renew the upgrade and support plan on your perpetual license prior to its expiration date. This will simply extend the end of your current plan another year. This means that you can renew your plan before July 1, 2019 at the current price.
Q – If my Subscription expires after July 1, 2019, can it be renewed beforehand at the older price?
A – Customers who purchased subscriptions prior to July 1, 2019 can continue to renew their subscriptions at the original (current) price.
Q – Will Avid change pricing on Avid.com?
A – Yes, pricing will be the same for our customers via the Avid webstore as through the reseller channel.
Q – Is there a limit on how many renewals I can purchase on my active Perpetual plan?
A – There are no limit. You can buy as many renewal plans and that will be added to your current plan. For example – If your Perpetual Plan expires in September 2019 and you chose to purchase 6 Renewals BEFORE July 1, 2019 then your new expiration date will be September 2025.
Q – If I crossgrade to a rental plan will I need to surrender my perpetual license?
A – Yes, crossgrades from Perpetual to Subscription will require you to surrender the current perpetual license you have.
You Can See How People Might Think Avid Could Make Pro Tools Subscription Only in the Future
This is the main quote that has people worried, ” However, going forward the preferred pricing model will be subscription-based pricing, because this is the direction of the entire industry and the way people would prefer to license software.”
The keyword here is ‘preferred’ but preferred by who? The users/customers? Or by Avid? For what reason? Will there be less of an intensive to buy the perpetual licenses?
Preferred doesn’t necessarily mean no longer available but it does show an insight into the company that either they don’t want people buying it outright, or they ‘think’ people don’t want to buy it outright.
The Original Message Seems to Have Been Pulled off Facebook and Replaced With This One on Avid’s Website
After the post was made on Avid’s Facebook account, people weren’t happy and wanted answers. It seems the post has now been taken down.
In the pricing update announcement here, you will find new wording of the post above with the new question and answer
2. Will Avid Still Offer Both Perceptual and Subscription Offerings?
Yes, we will continue to offer perpetual licenses for our Creative Products, but subscriptions are the preferred software licensing model and as such will have more benefits.
So… What are these “more benefits?” Will they just be “more” than the perpetual license because the perpetual license will have “less?”
I somehow doubt they are going to give you vouchers for free coffees at Starbucks or vouchers for Amazon. I’d speculate that they will simply give less benefits to the perpetual license. What those are, we don’t know.
So far though, the annual upgrade plans have risen for the non-ultimate version this year by 200% (more on that later).
So although they might “continue to offer renewal plans”, that doesn’t mean the price won’t increase to the point where it just doesn’t make sense anymore.
Keep in mind that this question and answer still remains on Avid’s website but people are confused.
Q – If I crossgrade to a rental plan will I need to surrender my perpetual license?
A – No, you would be moving from a Perpetual license to a Subscription license (discounted for the first 2 years).
Before it said ‘yes’ now it says ‘no’ you will be ‘moving to’. Is this just clever wording? If a business moves from one address and you go to the old address it’s gone and it’s only at the new address. This needs to be more clear. Is the old license gone or not?
Would Anyone Surrender/Give Up a $2500-$2599 license?
For Pro Tools Ultimate you can pay $399 a year to keep your perpetual license up to date by paying a Pro Tools support plan/update plan. That’s a lot cheaper than paying $799 a year to rent Pro Tools Ultimate.
There is no way to pay this per month and if you stop paying $399 a year, they will hit you with a ‘reinstatement fee’ when you want to pay for updates again.
As per Avid’s website: If purchasing a Perpetual License, please note that 1-Year Software Updates + Support Plans can only be renewed up until 30 days after the expiration date; if you fail to renew your annual plan, you can always purchase a new Pro Tools | Ultimate 1-Year Software Updates + Support Plan to reinstate your access to new releases and ExpertPlus support
However, all such pricing on Avid’s website is hidden until you actually try to renew or update. Perhaps someone who has tried this can tell us what the price is?
For the regular Pro Tools (non-ultimate) perpetual the price increase from $99 per year for updates to $199 per year. That’s a 200% increase. Enough for to make 34% of users on this forum poll to swap DAWs.
It becomes now becomes cheaper to rent Pro Tools if you’re renting it for 3 years than buying it. It won’t be any cheaper to buy it outright and pay for updates until the 4th year.
This Means, Already They Are Trying to Phase Out Perpetual Licenses
Doubling fees for updates is sign of trying to phase out perceptual licenses.
Not providing support and maintenance updates that other DAW software companies provide for free is another way.
Paying a yearly fee to keep updates or be fined ‘extra’ if not paying for constant updates though their higher priced upgrade/support Re-reinstatement Program, is still a type of subscription.
Do You Need Pro Tools Updates?
With Windows 10 updating itself automatically and Pro Tools often not working in new versions of MacOS, it becomes bit of a security issue.
If you’re computer that hosts your DAW is on the net, you should keep your OS up to date or your more susceptible to hacks. Since Pro Tools makes you subscribe to receive ALL types of updates, including maintenance updates and bug fixes that all other DAW manufactures provide for free, they want you on a subscription. Eventually, your product could just stop working.
So Back to the This
However, going forward the preferred pricing model will be subscription-based pricing
They are already making it difficult to not pay a subscription. So much so that I’d speculate.
In a Way, They Are Already On a Subscription Based System if You Want Updates
“Subscriptions are the preferred software licensing model and as such will have more benefits” – Avid
Subscription’s ‘WILL’ have more benefits
The word “will”, is future tense. Before the phrase used to read “going forward” but due to bar PR on Facebook it has been changed to “will” to be more subtle.
It still implies the same thing… There is going to be even less intensives to now, to not be on a subscription.
Will support and update plans disappear for perpetual licenses?
Will ‘reinstate’ fees increase?
No one know for sure what it means.
All we know for sure is…
Avid Wants Pro Tools to be Subscription Based
Hiding the option for the perceptual license in a tiny font on bottom the website for Pro Tools Ultimate. Charging ‘reinstatement fees’ to customers who stop paying for updates and want to update later. These are not tactics of a company who wants to sell you software to own.
How Much Will That Cost You Over 30 Years?
I guess that depends on your plan but assuming Avid keeps it’s pricing the same for 30 years (unlikely as it keeps going up) if you’re renting Pro Tools Ultimate at $79 per month for 30 years, it will cost you $28,440.
Or it’s slightly cheaper if you pay per year at $799 a year and it will cost you $23,970.
If the Perceptual License Remains and The Update and Support Plan Option Remains
For Pro Tools Ultimate on a Perpetual license but with constant updates, with the present pricing and no price rises for 30 years it will cost you $14,569 for 30 Years.
Compared to Apple Logic for 30 Years
$200 once off with free updates for life.
One Thing is Certain
If you use Pro Tools and you want to keep it up to date. Avid wants your money each year.