Music software and hardware manufacturer Native Instruments has announced that it is receiving a €50 million investment from private equity firm EMH Partners. I’m pretty sure we’ve never seen this sort of investment pumped into a music technology firm before. There’s no doubt that NI have a global reach and have captured many creative markets in terms of digital DJ, performance, virtual synthesis and sampling.
There’s lots of talk of attempting to “redefine the landscape”. CEO Daniel Haver says that “we are now ready for the next chapter”. And goes on to say:
“By developing intuitive and powerful products we’ve empowered music creators globally to further realise their potential. Today we’re seeing demand from increasingly diverse market segments, which opens enormous potential for growth. With EMH Partners we have a strong partner at our side to exploit this potential.”
Mate Galic, CTO and President, adds:
“We believe music creation products and services should be integrated in a more appealing, intuitive and cohesive way. We foresee an easily accessible music creation ecosystem that connects user centric design, with powerful technology and data, to further enable the music creators of today, and welcome the new creators of tomorrow.”
What is this going to look like?
How is this investment going to manifest in the products we can buy and the music we can produce? Well, here are some of my thoughts on that. Integration between software and hardware is something NI know a lot about. Their Komplete Kontrol NKS system, Maschine and Traktor products all thrive on heavy proprietary integration. Could NI start developing this outwards to forge new standards that everyone could adopt? Something that moves us forward from MIDI control is sorely needed in my opinion and maybe this an opportunity to evolve in that direction.
On the other hand when companies talk about empowering and diversifying it often results in a bunch of iPad apps and plastic attachments for the masses. Consider a company like IK Multimedia who have pushed the boundaries for the iPad based entry-level home studio. But that for me would be more of a fear than a hope. There’s a level at which mass market music technology loses its worth, becomes toy-ish and ignored by the more serious creators. I wouldn’t like to see that happen to a company as classy as NI.
Or they could use their technologies to develop new forms of cancer treatments, advance farming techniques in the developing world or build orbital weapons of mass destruction. But probably not.
It is exciting and NI is one of those companies that can bridge the gap between hardware and software approaches to music technology. I’m looking forward to what could develop. And they are hiring new people so now may be the time to tidy up that CV.