23 Mar 2018

This could be the best way to get top software without destroying your bank account!

  • Written by  Tim Dunphy
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Buying software second hand can be a great way to get top software for not much money Buying software second hand can be a great way to get top software for not much money Shutterstock

Second hand software? It isn't an option that immediately springs to mind when it comes to saving money. But recent developments in licensing could mean that you could obtain some top level software for not much more than a video game.

As videographers, many of you have probably already forked out rather large sums of money for equipment. Be it hardware such as cameras and lighting, or software for post-production, your wallets are probably looking a little thin. Not only that, but if you haven't already, you're likely to soon realise that there's going to be a whole bunch more stuff you're going to need when it comes to sound creation and editing. You're likely to need to purchase sound effects and music, you've got foley to consider as well as field recordings and then it'll all need to be edited and mixed! However, fear not as I have a solution that won't leave your bank account hollow. The second hand market!

As the world moves forward and technology becomes more advanced, so do the ways in which we utilise it. For years, companies have been desperately pouring money into fighting piracy and file sharing, mostly in vein. However, in more recent times we're seeing an embrace of the concept of second hand software and fairer pricing for all. Gone are the days that only high-end studios could afford such lavish equipment. Nowadays, many commercial releases are being recorded and edited in facilities that equate to no more than home studios.

License transfers

So how does second hand software work? In a phrase, license transfers. Many big names in the audio world have begun to embrace the idea that users should have the ability to sell on their software when they are done with it. Much like many of you have done before with a car or a house, you probably won't want the same thing forever and your needs will change. As an example, Ableton now allows users to sell their software on the second hand market and then transfer the serial and license to the new owner. For you videographers, being able to pick up Ableton second hand for a one time price of as little as £30 on eBay is going to be a wondrous thing. Especially for those of you who are now having to pay £20/month for Adobe CC and perhaps only treat this is a hobby. I know I would struggle to find the money for an additional £20-30/month.

Not only does this license transfer concept apply to some DAW distributors but it can also be found in the plugin world. Native Instruments allow their software to be sold second hand as well as Soundtoys and some Izotope plugins. I'm certain the list goes on. Now, of course there are plenty of free plugins out there to be taken advantage of. In fact, some of them are pretty good at what they do. However, you're unlikely to ever parallel the quality and diversity that a purchased plugin will give you. Taking the time to have a hunt around on eBay and audio forums could potentially save you hundreds. Money better spent on important things, such as catering!

Subscription services

Another interesting and related topic that I will briefly touch on here as well is subscription services. Much like Adobe CC, a lot of audio software can now be purchased via rent-to-own or a simple subscription service. Splice is a fantastic sample/plugin library company that offers a token system whereby you can download high quality samples for a small fee each month. Often, we're looking for a very specific sound effect to fit a scene which usually leads to the purchase of a sample pack containing thousands of sounds for around £50. That's wasted money, not to mention hours downloading thousands of files we don't even need. Splice takes all of this wasted time and money out of the equation and lets us find the exact sound we want and grab it. Quick, effortless, and best of all, whatever you download you get to keep forever. Even if you cancel your subscription, those files are yours!

A final discretionary word to the wise. Be careful. Despite the concept of second hand software taking leaps forward, there are still people out there looking to profiteer from your misjudgement. Any company that offers license transfers will have a clear statement on it within their website. Do your homework and make sure that what you're looking to buy is indeed available in this manor. Despite it's reputation, eBay is a far safer platform these days and with the added protection of PayPal, you will be covered if everything goes wrong!

The second hand software market is booming. It continues to grow and it allows those of you with less budget to still be able to compete in the commercial market. License transfers are becoming more and more available, allowing you to grab software second hand. Also, because it's software, you don't have to consider the usual worries of wear and tear when you buy a second hand item. It'll be brand new! Check out subscription services for music and sound effects to save yourself time and money. Be careful when buying second hand software and make sure you protect yourself with something like PayPal buyer protection. Now get out there and start improving your sound!

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.


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