Earlier this week Propellerhead introduced their new collaborative music platform, Allihoopa. It’s a site that makes it easy for people to share and remix music made with Propellerhead apps, particularly Take and Figure, which are a) free and b) mobile.
This isn’t a new thing for Propellerhead. Previously they had a similar site, called simply Propellerhead Discover, that served essentially the same purpose as Allihoopa. (Existing users that had content in Discover will see their content migrated over to Allihoopa.)
So what might this mean from a business standpoint and how does it compare to what other companies are doing to incorporate mobile and Internet/cloud technologies into their products?
While VST Transit, Blend, and Allihoopa are all collaboration platforms, Allihoopa makes the most sense from a product perspective. Why’s that? It has to do with conversion funnels.
You don’t need to pay a dime to Propellerhead to use Allihoopa. All you need is one of Take or Figure, both of which are free, an iPhone, and an Internet connection. Allihoopa provides a low cost way for users to interact with Propellerhead products and start their “brand journey.” Users can easily make music, share it with a community, and hear what other users are doing with the apps. This is all happening at the fat, discovery part of the conversion funnel, and it doesn’t take a big investment from Propellerhead either.
The subtle and perhaps brilliant part of Allihoopa is that it also lets users share music made with Reason. It’s awesome software but it isn’t free. Figure/Take users hear what’s possible with Reason through Allihoopa and if they want to take their music further there’s a good chance that the brand awareness and loyalty developed through the free apps and Allihoopa will lead some of them to buy into Reason. It makes a lot of sense. Propellerhead probably gets high leverage from technology investments they’ve already made with Reason that help to subsidize the cost of the mobile apps, and users get some great free apps and a fun community to interact with. Even for users who don’t buy Reason, their participation in Allihoopa makes the community better. So there’s probably some brand upside for Propellerhead even for users who don’t convert.
Why is this better than ROLI’s Blend and Steinberg’s VST Transit?
With Cubase, VST Transit is at the bottom of the conversion funnel. You can’t use VST Transit until you’ve already bought Cubase. That’s a high bar. VST Transit ends up being an incremental value add for people who are already Cubase users. It’s not a tool to help people learn about Steinberg products. It just makes Cubase a little better. Is it meaningful enough that some users will choose Cubase as a DAW over other options in the market? Will it keep existing Cubase users from switching to something else? I’m not sure. While interesting, it doesn’t seem especially compelling to me. Now, Steinberg also has Cubasis, a great DAW for iOS. I could see VST Transit becoming a lot more interesting if it was available for Cubasis users and if there was integration between Cubasis and Cubase.
How about ROLI and Blend? Of the web-based social music platforms out there, Blend is probably my favorite given that it supports more DAWs than similar platforms. It also seems to have a stronger community with participation from more interesting artists. That said, Blend has no obvious tie-in to ROLI products. It’s not really part of the conversion funnel since it’s not clear that Blend and ROLI are connected as part of one brand. If you’re a user of Blend, it doesn’t seem like your experience there is going to make you more or less interested in buying one of ROLI’s expressive seaboard MIDI controllers. But given the newness of the acquisition (October of last year), I’d imagine the folks at ROLI are still exploring ideas for how to get Blend more strategically aligned with their other products.
Getting back to Allihoopa. It’s not a transcendental leap forward for music making, but it is a savvy move by Propellerhead. Of the music tech companies incorporating Internet and mobile technologies into their products, they strike me as being one of the best out there right now. They’ve been able to get their Internet and mobile work aligned as part of a broader strategy and use it to make their brand and products stronger. Congrats to them on a nice new platform. Looking forward to seeing where they take it from here!