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Avid’s Louis Hernandez Jr. Discusses Pro Tools 12, Pro Tools First

Avid's Louis Hernandez Jr. discussed advances in Pro Tools 12 at Winter NAMM 2015.

Anaheim, CA—“As this industry changes, it impacts us just like it does an artist or a producer, a mixer, and our role as a member of the family, as the technology expert in the family, is to use our expertise to help move the family forward,” opined Louis Hernandez Jr., chairman, president and CEO of Avid Technology, sitting down to talk to PSN during Winter NAMM 2015.

NAMM saw the introduction of Avid Technology’s new flagship DAW, Pro Tools 12, with a basic companion DAW package, Pro Tools First. Pro Tools 12’s primary new features center on the Avid Everywhere concept, allowing access to music marketing and distribution tools, enabling collaboration and offering new software licensing models. Pro Tools First is a free software package, also conceived with collaboration in mind. Creating music “isn’t the whole problem anymore,” said Hernandez. “[The problem is] creating a way to sustain what you love doing. The tools have gotten simpler, but the environment’s gotten more complex…Now the joy you find in working with somebody else can be even more powerful, because the tools are available, so it’s really just us putting all this together in a way that met a huge opportunity for the people who are searching for this joy of creating music.”

Pro Tools First is “the same exact platform” as Pro Tools 12, Hernandez elaborated, though without some of the “very advanced, sophisticated features,” the feature set chosen for simplified workflow. Track count is limited to 16 and there are plug-in limitations. Projects are hosted free on Avid servers, with a cap of three active projects. “We started with Pro Tools because audio is that important. We wanted the Avid audio community to lead this next [phase] of investments we’re making in Avid Everywhere.”

In 2013, Avid published a white paper describing the Avid Everywhere vision. At the 2014 NAB convention, Avid launched a shared services platform with a connectivity toolkit, media services and integrated storage. “We have since added resolution independence, and the collaboration tools, which were just announced today,” said Hernandez. Pro Tools 12 also introduces foreshadowed monthly and annual subscription pricing options, though outright purchase remains an option.

“Out of all the business issues that I heard from our clients,” Hernandez shared, the common themes were that “you need to create great content, you need to make it available for more devices and channels, you need to optimize the lifetime value, it needs to be secure. You need to do all that and spend less money.” The “significant advantage” Avid is offering, he opines, is putting the whole chain together, rather than a cluster of point solutions. Hernandez explained that with Avid’s “large ecosystem” and “huge installed base,” users are “starting to get that the Avid Everywhere common platform that works for broadcast, film, audio and gaming” is capable of providing “an end-end solution where people can select how and where they want to participate in the community.” He cites Avid’s presence in 140 countries and millions of users as providing the basis for getting a scale effect faster than their competitors.

Simplified, Hernandez said, the discussion is that “it’s really just about connecting two people. We have all the artists on the one end and all distribution forms on the other end; rather than arguing formats, codecs, content streams, or whether or not all these streaming and new digital channels being formed are ever going to survive—because they won’t all be able to survive—we just want to connect the two people. Any way you want to create in any form, any way you want to consume, can be done here.”

Professional studios, engineers and marketers traditionally took the technical burdens off the shoulders of artists, a model with limited financially feasibility in the 21st century media economy. Avid Everywhere is conceived for the time. It ambitiously seeks to complete the picture filling the gaps in the circle between creator and consumer. Hernandez stated that he believes the new paradigms will “breathe life back into the studios,” that, “What you’re going to see in the future is a network set of studios with fixed pricing on the platform where you can just go into your local studio and really do it for real…it opens up a whole new generation of folks who are now going to go back into those studios.” He expects studio and engineering services to be part of the Avid Everywhere marketplace in the future.

Hernandez outlined Avid’s financial situation for PSN a year earlier at the 2014 NAMM, saying that the company was stable, profitable, and that the delays in reporting that resulted in Avid’s NASDAQ delisting were the result of internal transaction audits that snowballed into a massive undertaking. This year at NAMM, Hernandez affirmed that, “Everything we said was going to happen happened…We had to explain a tricky situation and pretty much everything we said has happened. We didn’t say our stock was going to double and we were going to be in the top performing stocks of the year. We didn’t say that. But that has been [additional] good news, one of reasons we were invited to be [back] on NASDAQ for example, to sound the opening bell, was our performance for the year.”

While Hernandez acknowledges that, “there’s so much more to come to fulfill this vision” of the complete Avid Everywhere ecosystem, he believes Avid’s path to be the right way forward. “I feel like we’re more aligned with our community than ever.”

Avid Technology

This article appeared in the March 2015 issue of Pro Sound News magazine as “Pro Tools 12 Leads Avid Everywhere Expansion.”