PBQs: Is Pianobook Going Commercial?

Hello fellow Pianobookers!

Yesterday we launched a significant new project to the website called Pianobook Artists. This is something I have been working on since the overwhelming support we had for Mike Georgiadis’ Soft Nylon Guitar- a pack that has given him a significant income that supports his fantastic work within the composing community. 

I have seen a couple of comments on Christian’s video and elsewhere regarding concerns about the direction Pianobook is going, so I wanted to provide more information and context in this letter so that everyone is on the same page and aware of our plans. 

Is Pianobook being monetised/ commercialised? 

No, the website will remain free at the point of use for packs that are not in the Artists series. At the time of writing we have 1050 free libraries and 2 paid libraries. On average we will release 40 free new libraries every month and 1 Artists library. So at the current rate that means 500 free libraries and 12 paid libraries every year (consider LABS release just 12). No other sample library distribution service offers this level of free content. 

Will Pianobook Artists stop making free sample packs?

No, each of the future Artists that I have spoken to are still very keen to provide free content for our community. Why? Because they are all people who are core members of the Pianobook family. There is a genuine passion from each of them that I hope (and know is) reciprocated in the form of support from our community.

Why can’t we just tip or pay what we want?

We introduced tipping in February as an experiment to see what the response would be. Whilst this has provided an ability to earn from our platform, the reality is tipping is not sustainable.

For example, Dan Keen is our top samplist with the most amount of followers (other than Christian). Since tipping was made live 6 months ago, he has made £78 from just 6 people- great if you need a new FX plugin, not great if you need to put some food on the table. Also consider there is a flat cost of $1000 just to get the library into Kontakt Player. 

So with all that in mind, the model of donationware/ tipping is great in theory, but not practically sustainable.

Will Pianobook Artists take over as the main point of the site? 

No, Pianobook Artists is very much a side project, and a separate sub-brand of the main site. The main reason Pianobook exists, and will continue to thrive, is from the free sample pack platform- supported by the brilliant Decent Sampler. 

It’s very much something you can opt into rather than something you are forced take part in. If you want to buy a Pianobook Artists library- great. If you don’t- you’re more than welcome to help yourself to the other 1050 free sample packs on the site!

Why can’t they sell their libraries on their own websites or with other distributors? 

The point of Pianobook Artists is to promote samplists who are already popular on our platform and have an engaged audience (Jon for example currently has over 3x more followers on our site than Twitter for example). With the help of Spitfire and our connection with Native Instruments, we also fund and assist in the encoding process to make the instruments accessible via NKS and available in the free Kontakt Player plugin- something that no other distributor offers. 

Why can’t you just sell them on the Spitfire Audio website?

We’re in the process of building a product section on the new Spitfire Audio website due to be launched soon. Having the products also visible on the Pianobook website helps users be aware of the commercial packs as well as the free products they offer. 

Surely this will decrease the quality of the free content on the site or non-Pianobook Artists will be viewed as mediocre…

We can’t predict the future, and we don’t know what packs will be uploaded. But what I will say is Pianobook Artists gives Samplists something to aim towards if they want to have a commercial career in composing and/or sampling. And in order to get there, they have got to develop strong Kontakt scripting and great recording skills- which I think will surely only increase the quality of the free packs on the website. 

Take me for example- my goal was to become a developer at Spitfire Audio. So in order to practice and get noticed, I developed Requiem. 

Pianobook Artists is definitely not a closed shop. We will gradually invite more people to take part who have great sample library ideas, that they just might need help with either funding or realising. 

Christian is also going to continue to post free sample packs to the site from his “Shed Archive”- a collection of samples made for professional films. These are of the highest quality and LABS level samples! 

So what does the future of Pianobook look like?

  1. We’ll continue to provide a platform of free instruments, adding (on average) 500 free virtual instruments every year. Users signed up to the website can access these sample packs freely.
  2. We’ll deliver at least 12 new Artists libraries every year and sign new emerging talent from the pool of Pianobook Samplists until we reach a number of 24 artists.
  3. We will continue to improve the website, adding features such as Public Collections, Personal Collections, Collaborations and Additional Resources. 

Still not convinced? 

We’re a community so we’re open to any and all feedback. But please make sure it is constructive- if you need to vent, consider the fact that we’re humans with real emotions and feelings.

If you are convinced, thanks for reading and reflecting!

With all good intensions, 

Angus Roberts-Carey 

Pianobook Brand Manager.