I completed a survey of Waves users - very interesting data

I polled a Waves user group of 473,000 members. 40,000 of those members are active in the group.

I asked them to classify themselves as one of the following based on the information which they provide on their taxes. Not their skill or experience level.

33.92% - Part time/semi professional audio engineer
31.58% - Amateur/hobbyist
30.7% - Full time but ONLY in audio services of any subfield (post / broadcast / music / film / gaming / live sound)
2.632% - Full time Hybrid - a music/audio professional with a combination workload of audio engineering with another music related profession. These professionals were asked to clarify which sub-genres of music/audio production they were involved in.
0.585% - Professional musician
0.585% - Retired music or audio professional

I think its safe to say that their Facebook group at the moment in time the poll was run easily indicates their market base is very evenly divided between amateur, part time, and full time users.

Next I ran a poll that asked users who Waves biggest competitor is. I instructed them to answer only one manufacturer. I instructed them to answer based on which competing company they have spent the most money with. Not which company which they think makes cool products but they have not spent a dime with. I instructed them to disregard all money their companies spent on hardware, education, tutorials, seminars, computer peripherals, and non-plugin software, and go only off plugin licensing. Results ranked in the following order:

Plugin Alliance/Fab Filter (tie)

Other brands mentioned were
Avid, McDSP, PSP, Sternberg, Antelope, EW, Softube, and Accoustisonics

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Definitely interesting numbers… I really would’ve anticipated a higher percentage of hobbyists.

My guess (this is pure speculation as I don’t know the real reason people answer what they do) is that the line between hobbyist and part time/semi pro is very very blurred. Hobbyist is a derogatory term for a lot of people, and a lot of people consider themselves part time pro if they recorded their friend in exchange for a box of cocoa puffs once. Not all of them obviously, but I suspect a large portion of that part time is actually hobbyist. Not that it’s a bad thing.

For what it’s worth, I’d put myself in the hobbyist category.


You forgot the biggest category… “anything thats free”.

Yeah, me too. I’m jealous of all the full-time professionals!

Interesting survey for sure…

I’m guessing you’re right. Totally makes sense

They eat only the best ramen noodles.


??? That defeats the purpose. The entire question had to do with where they spent money outside of the Waves library.

Haha! Well, I will admit. “Working” on music as a hobbyist is pretty stress-free, because you can just move on to something else when it stops being fun. :thinking:

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Why?? I how is it any different than identifying as a ‘home cook’ vs ‘pro chef’? Or like… a lay minister vs an ordained clergy?

Do you think its because there’s more people that WANT to believe themselves to be competent musicians than people who WANT to believe they’re competent cooks?

And some probably lied. But that’s ok because it did give everyone who participated an idea of what the balance in that particular Waves community was. Most pros had websites and Linkedin profiles. The whole thing was not anonymous. I did peek at few of them (out of sheer curiosity). It was really easy to see who was full of crap lol.

Some people did ask for clarification. I specified ‘income that pertains to your reported tax income’. ‘Have you claimed any recording related income on your taxes?’. Its pretty hard for someone to be confused about weather they claimed income derived from recording services on their taxes or not.

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If someone calls me an amateur chess player or an amateur gardener or an amateur video gamer, its not like I feel like I have to defend myself. I dunno… I mean is there another way to say amateur/hobbyist? Novice or Noob imply a lack of experience and skill vs hobbyist implying an income position. I think… I could be mistaken.

That’s not really the “right” question though. Some plugins are crazy value for the price you pay for them vs more expensive cruddy plugins. The Klanghelm plugins come to mind. Actually, with Waves recent bargain basement pricing, you get pretty darn good value for them as well - if you’re will to wait it out for a sale.

On the flip side, I couldn’t say boo about Fab Filter plugins because they are always priced out of my imaginary range.

Maybe a “better” question would be “Other than Waves, which plugin company makes the plugins you couldn’t do without?”

I think because the word “professional” is thrown around as some sort of status symbol in the music world. A lot of people in the hobbyist realm think they are there only because they haven’t made their break yet.

I’m not criticizing your poll. I think it makes perfect sense, and I think the results are really intersting. I was just responding to the “There are fewer hobbyists than I was expecting” comment.

I see what you’re saying, but consider this. If you need an hardware mixer with a USB port and you only have $500 to spend on one, SSL is not competing with Mackie for your business. They’re not actually competition to Mackie for the market YOU are in at THAT moment. So it doesn’t do any good to say that SSL is Mackies biggest competitor, even though SSL, Neve and API are the sonic standard that every company will be measured against in the entire audio world.

You can’t measure sales against another company that sells a similar product by measuring the sales of what’s on the market for free. The measurement doesn’t tell you the same data. Its almost like trying to measure Honda vs Fords sales (to evaluate them as competitors) but saying “how many of you just call a friend for a ride instead of buying a car”.

I don’t know that its the wrong question, but I think it is an entirely different one.

Ahhhhhhh! Like in sports! So what we’re talking about is the infamous ‘few are good enough to make it’ cultural cliche. Gotchya. Its an identity construct that’s far more personal to a musician than being a ‘controller’ or ‘treasurer’ is a bean counter.

Well, I tended to think that Waves catered to a higher end user demographic. It was really after attending the certification training seminars I realized how much Waves had reached out to the lesser experienced user market through its pricing accessibility and its marketing tone over the last several years.

Some of the feedback from that second competitor poll surprised me. I didn’t realize how popular Slate was. I think you’ll see a lot less pros using Slate. NOT because its an inferior product, but because of 1) his marketing tone and 2) because he hasn’t been around long enough to have really established a level of trust for his product. I don’t know that the pro market has rejected his product line. My suspicion is that there aren’t enough of them that have assimilated into their workflows to really make a statement about its value at a pro level.

Really? I actually don’t see this being the case. From my perspective, his stuff is being used all over the place. People that like his stuff seem to really love his stuff. And I think he’s been around in the market long enough to be a household name. Plus, he got in on the subscription stuff early on, which was huuuuuuge for him.

What about guys like Fab-Filter. They have like 5 plugins, and the only one I hear people talk about is their EQ. But they absolutely own the EQ market.

NI dominates the sample market, and nobody seems to even be attempting to change that. They are in a good position because they have a product that is ok, but so many companies depend on their product that even if someone make a better product, they wouldn’t have a zillion instruments available. NI is the only software company I’ve ever throw $1000 at.