We’ve devoted a lot of coverage to Max For Live since its introduction at the 2009 Winter NAMM Show, because it’s one of the most interesting music software releases of the year, and it opens up a wealth of options for Ableton Live users.
While Live users are already embracing Max For Live, CDM’s Peter Kirn raises some interesting issues with the idea of developing for the platform:
- Max for Live doesn’t have a free run-time, which means it’s not your best option if you want to reach a wide audience with your creations.
- Max is no longer an option for people wanting to develop plug-ins for multiple hosts, a change that didn’t go over well with all developers partly because it was only revealed after Max 5 and Max for Live.
- Jitter output is crippled in Max for Live if you don’t also own Jitter.
- Max isn’t an open source tool, which has practical implications, including –
- You’ll want to choose something else if you’re interested in mobile music making.
These are valid issues – but the reality is that Ableton and Cycling ’74 would sell a lot fewer copies of Max For Live if they treated it as a app development tool.
Instead, they are using the same approach that soft synth developers do – you can share patches, but not the synth engine. If someone else wants to use the cool Max For Live widget you make, they’re going to have to buy Ableton Live 8 and Max For Live – a pricey proposition.
It would be fantastic to see free open source tools as sophisticated as Live and Max For Live – but we’re probably going to have to wait at least five years for that.
Instead, Ableton and Cycling ’74 offer the same value proposition that Apple does with the Mac and the iPhone: they create tools that make power accessible.
Is this a devil’s bargain?
Is it worth accepting limitations on what you can do in order to get a computer that just works, a phone that gives you access to 100,000 applications or a music environment that unleashes your imagination?
It’s worth considering.
Let me know what you think!