Quick! What do you do in an emergency when you need to re-authorize software for a gig?

Good news: Ableton will not be “evil.” (see photo at right; thanks, Amanda.)

It happens: a hard drive dies, or you lose an entire computer and switch machines. Now, in an ideal world with no copy protection, this wouldn’t be such an issue, but most of us are fairly resigned to some kind of copy protection being a necessary evil. There’s software we rely on that requires some kind of authorization or unlock, if not a hardware dongle. That means you need to get a functioning copy of your software of choice up on your machine – fast.

Ableton Live, for one, has always had a relatively generous demo. It runs unlimited, with only saving and bouncing disabled. I have known Live users to, in a pinch, use that demo to save a live gig – just load your set into a backup machine and play. (For the same reason, I keep a fully bounced version of my sets, in case there’s some problem with third-party instruments.)

Ableton had made some noises over the years about adjusting this policy – which always made me nervous that they’d take away the unlimited demo-only version. (I even got students I taught in a class at Hunter College making use of this.)

Happily, what Ableton did this month was to extend the demo, adding 14 days of saving but keeping the unlimited save-disabled mode. In short, says a representative here in New York:

Get a serial:  saving and exporting enabled for 14 days

After 14 days (or without a serial):  old demo behavior; no saving and exporting, but everything else still works indefinitely.

And naturally, if you’ve been holding back from giving yourself a good Ableton Live test drive to see if it’s for you, you’ve got no excuse now. (Bravo not only to Ableton but the various vendors smart enough to offer a demo. After all, you can try out a guitar at the store before you buy it. It’s an instrument.)

  • anonymous

    where can one find one of those shirts?

  • wishniak

    the abes allow users to have a live license installed on 2 machines too (with only one instance in use at once). . which makes it easy to have a backup machine, or to transfer a license quickly.

  • HAHAHA. Oh no, the photo is back!

  • suomynona

    is it really an ideal world to have NO copy protection?

  • hoffy_m

    Yes, I want that t-shirt too

  • @suomynona absolutely. I can't imagine any *developer* disagreeing with me on that. I think they're a necessary evil to endure as a user if you want to use almost any music software (which, at the very least, is likely to have serial authorization). And I'll agree that, on some level, it's necessary to the developers to protect their software. (I think it's very much up for debate just how much they need, and where that balance lies, but I appreciate I do see the need.)

    That said, yeah, I think even the developers would say that they'd love to just give people software and let them install it and not have to do any authorization.

  • As far as I'm aware, you need a net connection in order to use (or at the very least initiate) that 14 day full-use trial.

  • Ableton is just great, so help yourself to a license after you tested it. if you do not have the money, may you can get the educational discount or (not 100% legal but working nethertheless) split the license with a friend as mentioned by wishniak above. and again, ableton live is maybe the best musical program available on the market. period.

  • That's cool of them to do that. I was thinking if I was ever in a pinch, I'd have to resort to a crack or warez. I ran out of activations a while ago and now I have to E-mail them eeeevery time I need an activation (being in a diff. time zone it's always an overnight process)

  • shilpashetti

    bought live in version 3 and never regretted for a single second. it`s worth the money

  • yeah i noticed, a couple of weeks ago i got a 14-day serial on my fiancee's macbook and worked great. and since i use dropbox to sync my files, i was able to reopen my live sets and work and save from that macbook. when i was back on mine everything was working fine, updated, excellent!

    and yes, you need an internet connection in order to get the 14-day trial working. it checks everytime you launche Live and sometimes between using it.

  • Lom


    Where can one find one of those Amandas!


  • dead_red_eyes

    I've got a question for Ableton Live users. My bandmate and I both have laptops that we use only for music stuff (performing and recording). His laptop is registered to him, and mine to me. We have a studio, nothing huge mind you … but a dedicated place that we write/record our music. Hypothetically speaking, if we were to purchase one copy of Ableton for that purpose … would it be legal / allowable for us to just share the one copy on our 2 computers, or would we each have to buy our own copy of Ableton?

    Also, does Ableton support VSTs and AUs?

    Sorry for the noob questions, but I've really been thinking about jumping aboard the Ableton Live train for performance purposes. Being able to bring parts in/out at whim is a VERY great idea to me … and I'm freaking tired of having to play the same song the same way every night (as I use both Digital Performer and Reason together in a live setting). Thanks for any help!

  • dead_red_eyes

    Hmmmm …

    "You can install Live on two of your own computers if you have registered your serial number on our registration page and you will not be using both computers at the same time."

    How do they know if both computers are using it at the same time? Is there some sort of spyware-ish stuff involved? Like checking over the internet or something? Somehow I knew we'd have to save up $1000 just to get into this, ugh.

  • There is only one Amanda. She's now PR rep for Roland. The more pressing question is how I can get one of those t-shirts so I don't have to keep annoying Amanda by reusing this photo. Also welcome: airbrush landscapes / velvet paintings of Hell featuring the Ableton evil logo!

    @dead_red_eyes: The "two computers at a time" requirement is a licensing requirement. The software does not know. But Ableton does limit you to two unlocks, technically (until you ask for more). So we're on the honor system, which is how I think it should be — and I know at least some Abletonies are very honorable; I hope that will be true of more.

  • voiid

    got similar "evil" shirt, thanx to my girlfriend.

  • dead_red_eyes

    @ Peter: Well like I said, I was just curious as to how that all works out. It looks like if we buy one copy, we can get another for half off …. so I'll probably just end up doing that. I'll be downloading the demo today to see what the world of Ableton Live is like. Thanks!

  • I added your blog to bookmarks. And i’ll read your articles more often!