Bitwig heard you, it seems, user community. Spectral Suite is now a no-charge, included part of Studio 4.4, with refunds or Upgrade Plan extensions offered to anyone who bought it.

Working out how to offer upgrades has always been a sensitive issue – especially because music customers tend to make long-term investments in software. That’s not just an investment of money; it’s an investment of time and trust. The latter often are what matter most as currency.

This seems like the right call; here’s their statement

We’ve had time to reflect on last week’s Spectral Suite announcement and the responses from our community. We apologize for how we handled this and want to make this right.

Spectral Suite is now part of Bitwig Studio 4.4, which has an official release date of October 5, 2022. Anyone with a current Upgrade Plan now owns Bitwig Studio 4.4 and the four Spectral Suite devices. We will contact everyone who purchased Spectral Suite to offer a choice of a refund or an extension of their Upgrade Plan.

Moving forward, all of our Bitwig Studio feature development, including devices, will be covered by the 12-month Upgrade Plan.

Your support of Bitwig Studio (and us) means more than we can say. Thank you.

I’ll admit, I also got this slightly wrong – I underestimated the ferocity of frustration with Bitwig over the decision to make Spectral Suite a paid add-on. I personally thought Spectral Suite should be included in Bitwig Studio, but I didn’t fully grasp how the Upgrade Plan worked and how users related to it.

But this underlines the murky value of subscription fees for music software – and there may be a lesson for any of the rest of the industry pondering those models. The music tech customers who will pay a hundred bucks just to get some jacks on their modular rig do so partly because it’s a decision they fully control – and once they buy that module, it’s theirs. Valuing control, choice, and trust matter more to this market than a lot of other markets – and what makers get in return is loyalty other industries can’t begin to imagine.

The Bitwig community in particular has been not only fiercely loyal, but vocal advocates of the tools.

There’s a bigger story here than just Bitwig. There’s a lot of outside investment hitting musical instruments and creative tech. But where investors may see a “fragmented” market, the words they may be looking for are “intensely competitive.”

In other words, mess with your core user base at your own peril. Take care of your users, and they’ll likely take care of you – and invest in your products.

If you are among those users, let us know how you feel about the new statement.

By the way, Alex posted an updated version of his video.

Also, a couple of details came out in discussions on this site other than just the frustration with the initial pricing and communications.

One, in fact it should be possible to build this sort of plug-in using the new open CLAP format and make it work in other CLAP hosts. I don’t know whether that makes sense as a business case for Bitwig, but it sure would be great to see plug-ins with these kinds of features.

JACK has long had this kind of functionality, and I’m glad Paul Davis reminded us of the (fairly ancient) FreqTweak. It took a very similar approach to Spectral Suite.

Now the latest version on GitHub:

At least on Linux, no reason not to run and use this: