Money. Music. Machines. When you think of the big players that make software and hardware solutions for musicians and DJs you might think of Ableton, Akai Pro and Native Instruments. The later have just shifted the goal posts in the industry to the tune of €50 million ($59 million) thanks to an investment from EMH Partners! The big question is what will they do with this rather large sum?
With their diverse range of products for DJs, producers and performers including Traktor, Maschine and Komplete, Native Instruments have, since 1996, carved out a large loyal userbase in the music industry. As noted by EMH Partners, NI’s "products are not only used by a vast majority of producers, musicians and DJs such as Depeche Mode, Alicia Keys, Skrillex, Carl Cox, Kendrick Lamar and Hans Zimmer, but also by an increasing number of hobby users."
Despite such high-profile users and obviously successful branded products there's plenty of areas Native Instruments could improve upon. And we think $59 million could help them achieve greater dominance in their product and service areas.
So, $59 million is a significant amount to play with. And EMH Partners' investment is not about helping a company to break through but propelling an already successful one to the next level of development. NI has over 500 employees and generates annual revenues of €80 million currently with an undisclosed, healthy profit margin.
Behind great products are great ideas. Great ideas originate from great minds. So it would come as no surprise if NI add to their already talented and creative workforce with new ideas and skills from new people.
Daniel Haver, CEO of Native Instruments, explains that “by developing intuitive and powerful products we’ve empowered music creators and DJs globally to further realise their potential. Today we’re seeing demand from increasingly diverse market segments, which opens enormous potential. With EMH Partners we now have a strong partner at our side to kick off the next growth phase.”
It's also important to note that "the private equity firm will predominantly invest in the technological development of Native Instruments and its marketing and sales efforts". This won't be purely on R&D for new products and services, but we'd like to speculate a little on what this investment could result in for the end user...
So what can we expect this extra investment to mean in terms of new products and existing ones? There's potential for Kontakt to evolve and solidify its place as the top sampler engine. Could Reaktor take on Max/MSP or Max for Live and spawn a new range of products and experiences beyond what we imagine?
The Maschine range of hardware/software could still go the way Akai Pro's MPC Touch and X have gone... standalone. We think a lot of Maschine users would love to use their instrument controllers without being tethered to a computer. Perhaps some cash could be used to make this a possibility?
Digital DJs tend to be either in the Serato or the Traktor camp. Different strokes for different folks. What's interesting is seing how Roland have brought their iconic synths and drum machines, 202, 505 and 808 to Serato-compatible DJ controllers, complete with a sequencer. As DJs worldwide gradually transition from occassional button pushing and laptop screen staring to incorporating sequencers and instruments in their live sets it would be interesting to see a Traktor / Maschine hybrid.
Komplete (software) and Komplete Kontrol (hardware controller) are amongst the most desired products for musicians. Komplete Kontrol MK2, just released, is positioning itself as not just the ideal companion for Komplete but also as a unique and powerful solution for Ableton Live and Logic Pro users. If Native can crack all the major DAWs and make Komplete Kontrol as useful for other music software as their own this could become the controller for everyone period. Again, money would go a long way to help make this happen.
Then there's cloud-based music production. Would it be in NI's interest to start making browser-based versions of the Maschine software. What about iOS and Android, could we expect to see even more powerful Traktor and Maschine mobile apps coming to market...?
And we're sure there's plenty we've not thought of where €50 million could alter the direction of one of the most influential music making companies.
What do you think? Will this €50 million investment herald a new chapter for Native Instruments? Will it change the landscape of the industry as a whole and push out some of NI's competitors or even smaller developers? The future hasn't been written yet, so we'll have to wait and see. One thing we can be sure of is this investment is significant and change is in the air...