Cycling ’74 + Ableton

    On behalf of my co-workers at Cycling ’74, I am pleased to share the news of our acquisition by our good friends at Ableton. Above all, the primary goal with this new partnership is continuity, which is probably not what you typically think when you hear about acquisitions. But this is not a typical acquisition. Cycling ’74 and Ableton have a long relationship going back to the very first years of both companies in the late 1990s. Over the years, I have come to appreciate that we both share the same obsession: the incredibly hard problem of creative workflow, or how can you use technology to make something out of nothing?
    Making a dent in this problem requires both imagination and persistence. The obvious case in point is Max for Live. It wasn’t long after I saw the first demo of Ableton Live from Robert Henke that he told me how cool it would be if you could make Live devices with Max. From that glimmer of an idea, it would be ten years before we released the first version of Max for Live in 2009. This unlikely partnership not only added extensibility to Live, but it gave Max an important new dimension as well.
    While we share a long-term commitment to improving how artists can work with technology, we also recognize that each organization works a bit differently. For example, Cycling ’74 people work from home in many different places in the world, while most Ableton employees work in an office in Berlin. Therefore, Ableton and Cycling ’74 will continue to operate independently, while we look for ways to collaborate and support each other. Perhaps most importantly, all of your friends here (including me) will be working as usual to serve the Max community, just as we have for the past 19 years. This is in no way an “exit” for me but rather an opportunity for us to continue pursuing some very challenging and exciting work that I believe will have a major impact on the world.
    I recently sat down with Gerhard Behles, the CEO of Ableton, for an interview with Peter Kirn at CDM and I invite you to check it out to learn more about our thoughts about joining forces and where we see things going in the future.

    • Jun 06 2017 | 7:36 pm
      congratulations David, max/msp/jitter folks and Ableton
    • Jun 06 2017 | 10:57 pm
      I hope such acquirement do not causes some neglect for visual\motion graphics MAX abilities ?
    • Jun 07 2017 | 3:40 am
      Congrats David, I believe that this move is going to be great for both Max and Live/M4L users.
    • Jun 07 2017 | 11:55 am
      Please don't make maxmsp loop and warp all the time! (And congratulations. Will Cycling74 move to Berlin now? Ah no, home offices...)
    • Jun 07 2017 | 1:01 pm
      It's a bit like to find out about the wedding of friends. I say to myself "they always fit together".
    • Jun 07 2017 | 1:52 pm
      Well this is certainly better news than "Cycling 74 goes out of business". I hope this gives Cycling the resources to continue deveoping Max. I feel Abelton and Cycling have always been two companies that share the same vision, so I hope that translates to even more invovation. At the same time, I wonder if Abelton really knows what it has now...
      I am not only a musician but a programmer as well. I choose Max becuase I am a creator, and Max gives me the ability to create anything. I choose Max above all other applications becuase it gives me the freedom to express my self in the audio/visual/sensor/controller domain. Max extends my imgination in to the real world. And although that can be a lot of work sometimes, it is a work of love.
      I hope Abelton will always honor that spirit as it keeps developing Max. I hope they keep expanding the language that is Max. I hope Abelton can step up and become the next Cycling 74.
    • Jun 07 2017 | 5:52 pm
      I'm more than sure Ableton will want to invest a lot into Jitter for the simple reason that many more musicians want visualizations with their music and performance. It's offers an edge to any performer and it offers a lot to Ableton because which other DAW allows this? Studio One? Logic? FL Studio? If you want to produce visuals closely integrated with your music, it will be Live+Max.
    • Jun 07 2017 | 11:28 pm
      hopefully the amxd build process will be made more complicated. right now it is only 16 steps and only close to impossible. it would be about time to make it totally impossible.
    • Jun 07 2017 | 11:43 pm
      -110, ich hab mir fast das Knie weggelacht!
    • Jun 10 2017 | 9:48 pm
      Hope it's more about putting some C74 DNA into Ableton than the opposite. Live is not at all, both aesthetically and interface-wise, open as Max is. Wait and see?
    • Jun 10 2017 | 9:53 pm
      Ableton Live will likely, and should, remain on their path. Their approach has been a very positive influence on DAWs and music production. Their openness to Max however proves that they want artists to have the option of a blank slate playing field. So Max will likely continue doing what they do.
      I think the two companies are sort of great opposites that realize the value in overlapping. In other words I don't personally think either software philosophy should change. We don't need some awkward Max/Live hybrid.
    • Jun 10 2017 | 10:05 pm
      Roald summarized my own fears precisely. Since 2003 I have used Live and since 2007 I have used MaxMSP. They are incongruous, and this move is a marriage of convenience.
    • Jun 10 2017 | 10:17 pm
      The interview sort of summarizes the philosophies of the companies. Ableton wanted to focus on "removing" features while Max focuses on adding. One business incentive Ableton _now_ has is they have two separate products, each with their own costs, that they can sell towards two types of artists. There's a lot of benefit to keeping the products separate instead of making an awkward consolidation.
    • Jun 11 2017 | 12:08 pm
      Keeping products separate doesn't mean there's no influence between them, and possibly not the right way.
    • Jun 11 2017 | 12:33 pm
      this influence is close to 10 years old and it didnt do any harm to max until now (except the total fail with the rounded corners)
    • Jun 11 2017 | 4:04 pm
      Roman, it doesn't sound like you. Aren't you forgetting the killing of "Pluggo" (universal VST bulding) in favor of a deep but exclusive integration with Ableton Live? ;-)
    • Jun 11 2017 | 5:00 pm
      the VST 3.0 development kit and two angolan goatherds are also still on the list of suspects.
      murder is a crime where you have to convict the perpetrator as well as find out his motive.
      bis zu diesem tag werde ich mich einfach ins kämmerlein zurückziehen und still weinen.
    • Jun 11 2017 | 7:50 pm
      It all sounds positive in this article. As long as Max standalone continues on its current trajectory I'm fine. I'd be really disappointed if any of this impacted negatively on a piece of software that I've supported for years and features heavily in most of my creative work. Ableton is undeniably a great piece of sofware, but I don't personally have any interest in it.
    • Jun 11 2017 | 8:14 pm
      Only time will tell. The sad fact is that there is a long history of companies who aquire, pillage, and then neglect once they have what they need. If that doesn't happen and Max is allowed to flourish, I will be happy. But I would have been more comfortable had this not happened.
    • Jun 11 2017 | 8:27 pm
      I think some of the fearful comments around here are from people not involved with the MaxForLive community. That is a lively community and acts as a middleman between Max and Live. There are Max developers who have the primary focus of developing Live plugins for Live users. There are small companies focused on that as well. Live did not integrate Max by accident. Their intention was to build an ecosystem of community development around Ableton Live.
      Here's what Ableton gets out of it: they get their own exclusive Live-only plugins. Much in the same way Apple builds a closed-garden economy around Apple-only hardware and software, Ableton has that in MaxForLive. This is the strategy Ableton has for now. They have no reason to neglect it. It adds more features to their flagship product. Ableton doesn't need to pillage anything. Instead they integrated.
      I would say the only real problem already came to pass some years ago--abandoning Pluggo and becoming Live-only. That's a big issue but that's been a reality for years now.
    • Jun 11 2017 | 8:50 pm
      i am probably leaving your topic now (because this has nothing do to with the fears discussed above) but you already named it, estevan: it is all about economy.
      nobody has to fear that max/msp will be closed tomorrow, tripled in price, or that it will be only available for linux and with a pink GUI.
      it will also not require you to have a facebook account (my greatest fear) and to download japanese porn advertisenments each time you create a cycle~ object.
      the main change is on an other layer. in the past, cycling74 always was proud to be a "collective", since last week it is a tool for moneymaking for its shareholders. a stock corporation´s only(!) aim and duty is by definition (and by law!) to make as much money for the shareholders as possible - also in those cases where they might be your personal friends and propagate a 160 pages thick manifesto about artistic and technological visions.
      the daughter company has no control about a possible appearance on the stock exchange or other ways how stocks will be sold to third parties with unknown motives and ideas about the future of single products.
      those who miss pluggo... follow the instructions i gave last week to that noob in the forums - and keep an Xserve G5 in your rack - and you will be fine for the next 10 years.
    • Jun 11 2017 | 9:00 pm
      I agree that corporate motivations can change a company but it can simultaneously still produce a stable, good product. I hate Adobe's pricing but Photoshop and After Effects are still significant. Unity Game Engine is very popular and very good. Sketch is an amazing productivity application.
      Additionally Live and Max could never be as money grubbing as Adobe because there will never be that much money in the music production industry. By their nature they're always dealing with a more limited audience with fewer business opportunities (no one buys music anymore...).
    • Jun 11 2017 | 11:46 pm
      "I hate Adobe's pricing but Photoshop and After Effects are still significant."
      the position of max is more that of dreamweaver or cubase SX.
      yeah i know, that is the main reason why musicians must steal software: because developers steal music.
    • Jun 12 2017 | 2:07 am
      or that it will be only available for linux and with a pink GUI.
      if only....
    • Jun 12 2017 | 11:37 pm
      i dunno if it's all about "saving" c74...deeper Max integration could help out a lot of the "issues" seem to have with Live like midi/sysex, hardware programming, audio rate control signals?
      A Max centric modular Push3 programming environment with nice OLED display (and using the device itself to help program/navigate/visualize Max patches?!) would be fun! Needs a couple more mod wheels and joy sticks and a few less pads though.. :)
      Also, being built in JUCE and having access to Gen might be of value for developers of next version of Live? ...If Live was re-built in Max and we could then take it apart that would be pretty neat!
    • Jun 13 2017 | 8:14 am
      " I hate Adobe's pricing but Photoshop and After Effects are still significant. "
      They are widely used because there is no alternative, they have complete monopoly. The little competition they had with Macromedia was over when Adobe purchased the entire company in early 2000-ish?...
      Idk how i feel about the recent aquisition by Ableton, as a customer i was kinda disappointed when they dropped pluggo in favor of maxforlive. I guess we'll only have to see how this will develop...
    • Jun 13 2017 | 10:34 am
      If Live was re-built in Max
      This makes no sense : a first draft of what Live would be was actually prototyped in Max years ago. Ableton rebuilt Live from the ground after that, in order to have more low-level control on all aspects of the application. It's not something they want to undo.
    • Jun 13 2017 | 11:36 am
      Agree with Vichug. Moreover we have an access to growing set of functions from Live API within M4L.
    • Jun 14 2017 | 4:11 pm
      keep the good work and bring us amazing new field of possibilities !
    • Jun 14 2017 | 4:17 pm
      Hi David and everybody @ Cycling, first of all, congratulations to everybody!
      I really hope (and pray) that this will be a great step for MAX and Cycling's others ideas, like Mira. Max for Live is great, but I love to have my stand-alone MAX software. But I will definitely look more deeper to Live and really thinking about change my DAW (Studio One for years, but now...).
      But, please, don't leave us alone. Years ago we had Pluggo, and then, it was gone, for Max for Live. Don't do the same with your loyalty users.
      Cheers from Brazil,
    • Jun 14 2017 | 4:50 pm
      I love Ableton and I love Max. Reading through the comments above; fears, concerns and well, I too hope this move won't be the eventual end of Max as a standalone. I don't think this will be the case, though. Meanwhile, I LOVE the concept of a Push 3 that triggers Max visuals/sounds, etc
      However IF this is the end- Processing.
      Best of luck!
    • Jun 14 2017 | 6:55 pm
      Time to seriously get into PD
      Best luck for everybody using Max
    • Jun 14 2017 | 6:59 pm
      My immediate reaction is disappointment. In a business acquisition, the acquiree is not going to remain constant. It's going to change. The question is to what degree, and to the benefit of whom.
      I'm sure that securing the future of Max is part of this. I understand the motivation, and hope that the long relationship between C74 and Ableton is an indication that the latter will respect the former's community.
      What do I mean by respect? Keep Max a standalone application. Don't hive off Jitter. Don't force us to use a Download Assistant. Let us continue to interact with the development team on the forum. Maintain access to the Max API. I'm sure there's more.
      I guess we'll see. It could be surprisingly successful, or it could be the Sibelius disaster. I have a deep creative investment in Max, so at this point I can only hope for the former.
    • Jun 14 2017 | 7:49 pm
      Every great program has a lifespan, which is often tied to the working lifespan of its creator. In this corner of the industry, 25 years is a good run (comparable to Stradivari's golden years). True, acquisition is the kiss of death for many companies, but unlike the powers behind Gibson and Norlin (for example), Gerhard B deeply understands and respects Max and its underlying soul. This is the best of possible futures I have foreseen for cycling 74-- David Z is no longer responsible for managing a crew spread over 7 timezones, and can focus on projects that deepen the value of the program. Also, I assume this leaves him in a financial position where he will no longer need to moonlight just to keep the company afloat.
      When Ableton gets bought will be the time to worry.
    • Jun 14 2017 | 8:13 pm
      To be honest this does not feel like good news to me.
      As a long term Max user and someone who has zero interest in Ableton Live, I sincerely hope but doubt that this doesn't send Max development down an Ableton biased path. I and I am sure many other Max users, have no interest in that. It risks taking Max out of the experimental sphere and into a dull and boring mainstream one. Sad day really.
    • Jun 14 2017 | 8:18 pm
    • Jun 14 2017 | 8:35 pm
      Think of it from Ableton's point of view. Even though the Live paradigm is pretty much universal in the performance business, it won't be forever. When a new paradigm turns up, what platform do you think it will be built on? Probably not Processing. Keeping the Max community happily inventing new stuff is definitely in Ableton's interest. (But look carefully at the next user agreement.)
    • Jun 15 2017 | 5:51 am
    • Jun 15 2017 | 8:24 am
      I have been a Max user since the time Ircam first commercialized it, I remember sitting next to David Zicarelli in an Ircam auditorium not knowing who he was and waiting for this guy called Zicarelli to come up on stage and present the timeline object he was developing for Max. With every big step Cycling74 took I was amazed by the possibilities and the opennings it provided to artists' imagination and creativity. I say artists because Max is not just about music, or video, visuals, animation, or interactivity. It has been a continually growing environment for all sorts of artists (and others) to create with and I hope it continues. I remember the days Adobe bought ProTools, the clash of company culture set back ProTools a few years. That was my first fear when I heard of this acquisition but have been somewhat reassured by what David Zicarelli and Gerhard Behles have said in their interview.
      In conclusion, with all the apprehension a move like that can give rise to, I have confidence in what Cycling74 does and wish the best for both teams and companies.
    • Jun 16 2017 | 9:21 am
      Those takeovers are not about integrity, respect, love, promises and all that others weird stuff humans make up to feel less exposed while facing an uncertain truth.
      These values are non-existing on todays global market. Everything here is about growth and maximising and eating the little fish. If they are used in a public relations context it is always with the concept of "greenwashing": making things look nice on the table while pushing feet under it ...
      As @Roman has put: it is the inherent logic of global economy.
      since last week it is a tool for moneymaking for its shareholders. a stock corporation´s only(!) aim and duty is by definition (and by law!) to make as much money for the shareholders as possible
      Cycling74 obviously cannot make enough money with the concept of selling set of tools for making fancy bikes when the big crowd wants just fancy looking bikes.
      The first compromise with Live was M4L and was obviously not bringing the needed cashflow. How much would we have to pay for Max for get it going without Ableton? That price tag comes from the multiplication of the costs for making i and the numbers expected to be sold ... Someone must have though that it won't be enough customers ...
      Now that it is handed over only thing to hope is that in future Ableton will value the image gained from owning the "fancy value" of Max good enough to keep nursing it ... But that decision is not going to be made on the background of beautiful words compromise, integrity, honesty, truthfulness or whatever positively charged adjectives they find to camouflage the hard numbers of economics reality.
    • Jun 16 2017 | 9:32 am
      BTW: I believe this to be the patcher made by Robert Henke that some say it is a prototype for Live ...
      I really hope to do anything illegal here and getting sued by a multinational coop ...
      Wasn't there some greek mythology about a son killing his father so he can rule ...
    • Jun 16 2017 | 12:40 pm
      @CTRLZJONEZ, "integrity, respect, love," weird stuff !? … I don't think it is weird to have values especially the ones you mention. Those and Freedom is what makes us, at least me, want to keep on struggling. Economics are just as important but that deosn't mean it should be without principles or values.
      When a dog is hungry, it has a problem, once it has found food and eaten it's problem is solved. When a human is hungry, he/she has a problem, once she/he has eaten, her problems continue…. Human existence is symbolic and not just economic. But you have a point in the sense that economics is also about power. It is a bold move posting the son's origin. However I would give people a chance to prove me wrong before being so sure about life.
    • Jun 16 2017 | 12:57 pm
      "Wasn't there some greek mythology about a son killing his father so he can rule ... "
      in other sources it is known as the requirement of the permanent revolution.
      but this should not be interpreted as a calling for murder, rather it means that everyone (especially the working class, or the cognitive class, in our case) should never stop to question themselves and their own role in the game.
    • Jun 16 2017 | 2:22 pm
      Those values are not wrong. Of course not.
      What's wrong is the context they are used in. I have zero interest in being offered a "we love you" package from a phone company. Being told to desire a bar of soap that promises to make me smarter person ... (What I really found interesting though, is how that trust in the finances is so well working, they must exercise some of those crazy voodoo rituals at night in order to keep it running)
      Whenever I hear a manager talking about trust I know that it is time to run. Even if they really want to do good, they cannot. There is no place in the economy for that. It's all about growth, to pay back the interests built into the money system. Maybe one can try to grow in a good way, but there are always all the other going for more sales of stuff that is cheaper made, quantity (that attracts the masses in a circular movement) wins over quality.
      That's the case of Cycling74: it is not economically viable to do "elite" stuff for a few cats under the bridge. That even if they may want to pay the price for the product but they cannot, because too few people paying them to little money for what they want to do with it.
      And if even the compromise of making M4L (bigger user base paying more money for enablement to do "not too erperimental stuff" didn't proof to be good enough for paying the bills, then I'd say the future for the (as somebody above said:) non beat based music makers future doesn't look too bright in respect to Max.
    • Jun 16 2017 | 2:32 pm
      @Roman: "should never stop to question themselves and their own role in the game."
      Subscribed. Hopefully tools and interest for producing subversive action will be available for a long time before handed over (and subsequently dried up) to the consensus producing machine, hitting constantly on the lowest denominator that they found out about via statistics ...
    • Jun 17 2017 | 5:07 pm
      I agree with you, @R∑N∑G∆D∑ R∆J∆, that at least in this thread there is a tendency to think too much - as well as to get worried too much and to assume to many negative consequences, which no one has made any official statements about. I didn't read any of financial troubles of Cycling either...
      “Most people don’t know how to listen because the major part of their attention is taken up by talking.” - Me
    • Jun 17 2017 | 5:37 pm
      Although I fear that in a relationship of "acquisition and business" to that photo lacks leather.
      The metaphor of the tandem bike is good ...
      It works on many levels, what part are the users ?.
      PS: I would like to know the photo that illustrated the license change in gen.
    • Jun 17 2017 | 5:41 pm
      Here's the comparison that people should reflect on. People who fear Ableton may want to demolish Max/MSP.
      Coca-Cola acquired Minute Maid (they make fruit juices) in 1960. Why? So that they could have that part of the market place. Additionally, chances are some people drink OJ in the morning and then drink a soda in the afternoon. Coca-Cola has never stopped producing Minute Maid juices. It wouldn't make sense to do so.
      That's it.
    • Jun 18 2017 | 12:06 am
      @R∆J∆ : XD
    • Jun 18 2017 | 11:30 am
      Like a known cabaret performer in my country said: "im a pessimist, worst case scenario is i end up being right or it ends up not being that bad after all". Needless to say im hoping for the latter ofcourse...
      I guess the greatest fear is that we are forced to buy Ableton at some point or a hollowing out of vanilla max in favor of Live/Maxforlive. There have already been 3 recent businesswise decisions that disappointed me and 1 that just left me confused:
      - Pluggo being dropped for MaxforLive.
      - Pretty much a complete lack of documentation of gen in max6(/7?) and no prospect of them releasing it anymore (for 6) even though promises were made.
      - Gen being sold as separate product at launch but not being updated anymore after max7's release.
      - The license change, it's of a language i do not speak and the comments by cycling somewhat reassured me but it didnt "feel" right... (was this done because of the Owl pedal maybe? I genuinely wondered (and still do) why now as gen and code export were already released?)
      On the plus side it will probably be cheaper for us euro's now :)
      " It works on many levels, what part are the users ?. "
      lol thats harsh...
    • Jun 18 2017 | 5:05 pm
      "to assume to many negative consequences, which no one has made any official statements about "
      what else but assume what the future will bring could you do.
      (did you get my mail btw?)
    • Jun 19 2017 | 2:33 pm
      So I have been sitting with this for a while... I must admit the initial announcement filled with me with trepidation. I have invested so much in to Max as a development platform and my attachment to the freedom it gives me to create, is very fierce. I dread the thought of Ableton neutering and clipping the wings of the amazing creature that is Max. But instead of creating worry, I would like to offer another vision...
      Ableton Live as we know it is dead... In its place rises a multimedia performance environments that seamlessly blends audio, video, 3d graphics, sensors, and interfaces in to one expressive environment. The product would be a performance platform combined with the graphical programming language. The performance platform itself, able to handle all forms of media, the artist would be free to express with audio, video, or both. Freeing artists from the drudgery of building a dependable performance environments while giving them the freedom to build expression on top of it. Allowing the artist to capture that which no software could ever create...
      This is the vision I offer you, and the challenge I put to Gerhard Behles. Its time for Ableton to step up and become the next Cycling74!
    • Jun 19 2017 | 6:09 pm
      Mainstream audiences will never adopt Max/MSP. Ableton Live will go a different path and remain a leading and mainstream product. Chances are Max/MSP will supplement it as an advanced suite of options for people who do more that audio engineering and songwriting.
    • Jun 19 2017 | 8:22 pm
      @ estevancarlos On the contrary, they already have. Ableton is an audio performance platform that allows you to use Max4Live to create custom audio and MIDI devices. The option is there, you can use it or not.
      I don't think you are really seeing my vision, I am proposing something new. I propose Ableton Live become Max. That way it could offer other products like a Video component that would compete with Resolume/VDMX. Of course its audio presence would remain. But more importantly it unifies the expression of audio/video/sensors/interfaces into one performance environment.
      Ableton has more to gain by making Max their flagship product then having it be some fancy addon. In the software development world, products that make money are the ones that get developed. I could easily see Max relegated to some sideshow, a once magnificent bird forced to live in a cage for the rest of its life. Its memory of flying slowly fading as time passes.
      This is the challenge I put to Ableton . Imagine a giant eagle... imagine getting on its back... imagine flying...
    • Jun 19 2017 | 8:34 pm
      There are some real risks involved with adding so many new features to Ableton Live. Major risks. Additionally there's some solid argumentation out there that suggests companies not fall into the trap of "featuritis" - Ableton Live doesn't even allow you to export to MP3. They've avoided that feature for years.
      Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't mind a grand Live+Max hybrid but I don't believe most of Live's base users want a hybrid. I talk to lots of Live users and they frankly just want to write songs. Many don't want anything to do with programming. Additionally it would create a really difficult product from a design perspective. It could become immensely complicated to use for beginners and people who just want do multitrack recording.
    • Jun 19 2017 | 8:59 pm
      Again, I am not saying throw away the audio performance interface that is Live. It is basically a C++ library with a fixed UI. I am proposing that underneath that UI, would be Max. Max is a graphical programming language. You can choose to go under the hood or not. This is no different than what we have now with Max4Live. I am suggesting that this be extended to video, 3d graphics, sensors, and interfaces. It would be much easier to extend that functionality if Live were riding on top of Max.
      Is there risk involved? Risk is defined by what can be gained or lost. There is much to be gained. There is a whole VJ community out there to be tapped in to. And there are many musicians who are chomping at the bit to add visuals to their music (me included). Audio gains could be made as well. As it is right now, Max4live is a cumbersome and clumsy environment to work in. With Live riding on top of Max, the transition could be seamless.
      In the end nothing good comes with out risk.