With Pro Tools 10 came a new feature that I requested for the first time several years ago, the integration of a marketplace for plugins, sound libraries and the like.

I have written many times about where DAW’s need to go web-wise. It’s a no-brainer really, it’s been obvious for years. Why the manufacturers – and this is by no means limited to Avid, it’s all of them – have been so late to the party I do not know. A few innovative small timers have popped up and showed the way, unfortunately their products have failed (surely not because of their innovative ideas though). Currently there’s only one company that shows promise in this field and that’s Ohm Force with their coming Ohm Studio.

But what does it mean to better integrate web features into a DAW? There are many ways, here are just a few:

  • A store, something like the App store.
  • Access to sounds, both single samples and entire sound libraries.
  • A dynamic help section, as opposed to the more common static “book”.
  • Online, real-time collaboration, similar to what Ohm Studio is.
  • The possibility to find musicians, producers and the like for help.
  • Backup and/or archive functionality.

These are just some ideas of the top of my head to give you an idea. With Pro Tools 10 we see steps towards the first two examples. Actually, Pro Tools 9 was the first step with it’s automatic check for updates (good addition). But how successful are the new features? In my opinion, not very. Hopefully this is just phase 1 of what in the end will be a much better solution.

What are the problems and what needs to happen?

The store is not full. Where are the plugins from other developers? Surely the intention must be to eventually add other brands but why did they launch this without at least a few major players on board?

It’s “just” Avid webpages integrated into Pro Tools. Quite frankly it’s not laid out well. This might seem both superficial and unimportant but I would argue the opposite. When I click around in the Apple App store, whether it be on iTunes or the new one in OS X, it’s nicely laid out and the UI is made to be the best for what it’s intended to do (i.e. sell new products). The webpages Avid has put into Pro Tools might make sense in Safari, but perhaps not so much in Pro Tools. It makes a difference!

Obviously the two above complaints must be approached. The store should move closer to what the App store is. But other than that…

Rentals have been available for a long time but now they start to make real sense. Once most AAX plugin companies have joined in with the store, adding their own rentals, the Marketplace will be a more interesting place. Think about it, you’re working on a new album and feel you just need a new flavor. Instead of shelling out $400 for one or two new plugins you rent it for a few tens. The wet dream would be a rent-to-own kind of deal.

The sound library section must be greatly expanded. Not necessarily with new sound libraries, but with single samples. You should be able to search and preview hundreds of samples directly within the Marketplace when looking for that perfect kick drum. Just buying existing sound libraries, like you do in the Avid webstore is not enough.

These are just a few ideas to make it better. I believe that Avid will eventually get it where it needs to go, but at the moment they’re far from it. As of now they’ve just made a few webpages available for quick access in Pro Tools. Still, every journey starts with the first step, kudos to Avid for taking it.