Will GB kill off iPad music devs? I think not!

There’s been quite a bit of talk about this over the last few days andI thought I’d take some time to put down my thoughts about Apple introducing GarageBand for the iPad.

People have been saying things like ‘it’ll kill off music apps for indie devs’ and the like and I want to respond to that. When GarageBand first arrived in January 2004 it was great. Apple putting music creation into the hands of the masses. But did it destroy the market for music making software at any level? No, not in anyway. If anything it made other software companies look up and see that there’s a market for the user making music in their bedroom studio.

That is what I think is going to happen with the introduction of GarageBand on the iPad. I think that it will generate more interest from iPad users in making music and that a percentage of those users will want to do more and that will lead them in turn to discover more apps from the community of excellent developers that exists today.

The other thing we might see is other big software houses entering the iPad and tablet market, and that would be excellent.

I think that GB on the iPad can only mean good things for the mobile music creation community, and I don’t think that any developers should see this as anything but good news.

iPads at the Apple Store

40 thoughts on “Will GB kill off iPad music devs? I think not!”

  1. Korg obviously worked very closely with Apple preceding the launch of the iPad. There is no other way to explain having such a polished app (ielectribe) on launch day.

    Apple loves mobile musicians!


  2. I mostly agree, but I think Apple really must either 1) let GB support AudioCopy, or 2) let other apps write to the ITunes library as a new standard for audio sharing between apps. Otherwise there is no way for new casual GB users to explore other indie apps. Hoping that GB will not say “screw you” to the indie dev scene!


  3. I really like the above comment! It's a thought that I've had for a while now.

    In answer to the question. I think there are so many things that iOS music devs want their app to do that GrargeBand will not support that there will still be a thriving music app development 'community' for iOS. Look at apps like Bebot and SoundYeah as just two examples.



  4. I can see GarageBand maybe having some real importance in an educational setting but not a game changer for musicians already using iOS. It's just too entry-level.

    But I would like to hear some input from developers – why or why not is GB important to you. How does it affect what you're doing.

    I haven't been using iDevices long but the trend seems to have been a lot of hype and then a gradual die-off of interest and then more anticipation of the next BM2.

    Will GB be important? Yes. But for GB users mostly. There are too many other apps that collectively do it all.

    Just my 2 cents.



  5. the same was said about the release of beatmaker 2.
    other dev's could give it up because BM2 can do it all I've read somewhere

    never use GB as it is,
    rather work in for example audacity
    things like “export as wav”
    instead of GB conversions


  6. I wish I was optimistic.

    iPad app development is already risky with very low expectations for profitability. As music apps become more sophisticated the development investment has gone up considerably. But with the arrival of GarageBand it is now almost impossible to make a business case for making the considerable investment in creating and marketing a sophisticated music app that overlaps any part of GarageBand. GarageBand covers a lot of territory: multitrack recording and mixing, MIDI recording and editing, virtual instruments, synthesizers, audio effects and guitar effects, amp simulations and more.

    GarageBand isn't the 800 pound gorilla in the room. It's a 8000 pound gorilla.

    Sure there will be some iPad music app opportunities that are not subsumed by GarageBand, but there are now far fewer of those than there were last week.

    It is hard to be convinced of the case that GB will create opportunities for complementary products that address the needs of users who want to do more. I would be more convinced if GB used technologies to support interoperability between apps, but it doesn't seem to. I would be more convinced if GB and iOS supported multitasking or plug-ins such that a 3rd party could create as an example an iPad hosted synth to work in conjunction with GB, but they don't.

    When GarageBand was added to the Mac in 2004 the market of sequencers, recording and loop-based composition tools was already mature and thriving. But I do not agree that GB had no effect of stifling competition. For example, I suspect Fruity Loops and ACID might have been ported to the Mac had GarageBand not been owning the same market segments. Adobe did not create a Mac version of Audition until 2010. And the market for entry-level audio recording apps all but dried up for many years with the exception of free, open-source Audacity. Who knows how many other potentially competing Mac applications did not appear because developers couldn't make a convincing case that they could compete with the free GarageBand. And the Mac version of GarageBand does support plug-in instruments, plug-in effects and ReWire.

    I hope that I am wrong. The market of music creation apps on the iPhone and iPad is booming beyond anyone's wildest imagination in terms of innovation and creativity.

    But Apple clearly has decided that they can add more value to the iPad by creating and dominating the music creative space with GarageBand rather than fostering the alternative of an environment where complimentary products create a compelling ecosystem for mobile music creation.

    I hope I am wrong.


  7. how many of you people are going to, or would boy GB for the iPad? I mean I wouldn't. Never liked it on the mac, and probably wouldn't like it on any other platform. If we are talking about the future of music, well having a dumbed down daw on a tablet is not what I think the real opportunities of the platform are. So yes I think, while many people will not be able to resist to the shinyness, there is still a market for the many other applications out there, especially considering that the market is growing.
    stll one issue remains, Apple is clearly playing a bit dirty here, reminds me a bit of microsoft including explorer in windows to kill competition… though of course the case is a bit different here.


  8. The only time i ever use GB is when i'm fiddling with a new MacBookpro in an Applestore, to just test the feel of things. I' v chucked it from my mac long ago. Not so sure about grabbing it for the ipad.


  9. at a price of 4.99 it'll certainly make some devs think twice before they put their greedy pricetags on new apps.
    I predict an overall cut in audio-app prices.


  10. I think whining about paying £5-10 for a music app is more likely to kill indie development than GB.

    Stop and think about how much Windows/OSX apps cost – iOS apps are already bargain basement.


  11. Well, IMHO if Apple deliver a best in class novice user experience… that just enforces the value of 'left of center' specialised music apps- long live audio hackers pushing the boundaries- there is no death knoll presented by GB!


  12. I think in all honesty actually finding music apps will be a bigger problem than gb, for the casual user. The navigation for the app store is terrible when it comes to creative apps, there should be one section called creative that is split between audio, visual, art and photography.

    Put all the content creation apps, viz toys etc in that section, leave all the radio stations, band promo stuff, photographers and artists portfolios and the rest where they are.

    The two things that struck me about gb was how polished it looked and the price, I believe the price will upset a few devs, as quite a few were trying to up the price for more fully featured apps, like the korg stuff, bm2, konkreet performer etc. Low prices can be good especially for the end user, but apps need a very high profile on the store to benefit from low pricing.

    Gb won't kill other music apps, as there are so many different apps out there not even close to what gb does like noteplex. But I honestly feel the app store navigation doesn't make it easy for devs or customers, also the file system for audio apps is a sticking point. Art and photo apps make use of the photo library so it's easy to bounce work between apps, like others have said read and write access to itunes, with the ability to make folders would help loads, or just licensing audio copy and paste and making it standard. These two things have more of an impact than gb will imo.


  13. there are fore sure greedy dev's,
    but not the serious ones that put effort in their apps

    but sometimes I see really bad apps for 5 dollars or so,

    like a photoapp that can only rotate you photo
    or a drumapp with 5 sounds and a button


  14. When you use 1 music making app on the iPad and see what it's capable of and its potential you will get MORES apps.

    GB is like a gateway app. Feel me?


  15. At very least, it'll light a fire under the collective ass of other DAW app developers to incorporate live audio tracks into their apps (I'm lookin' at you, Blip and Intua…).


  16. I'm just hoping GB is going to set a new standard in terms of quality, certainly seems to be raising the bar somewhat.

    Let's not forget also that GB has always generally been a tool for making guitar/band music whilst most of the existing iPad apps are focused on electronic music – I'm pretty confident that they can sit side by side.

    And yeah, audio recording in the likes of Nanostudio would be fantastic – and I think after this weeks announcement far more likely too.

    For those interested I posted an article on this topic over at The Next Web yesterday – http://www.tnw.to/17X03


  17. I completely disagree about audio tracks. If anything, the developer of Nanostudio should focus on honing and refining the features that differentiate it from GB, not trying to be all things (and no doubt diluting it's core strength in the process)
    If you want audio tracks – buy GB


  18. But the ultimate trick is to make an app that allows you to start and finish w/o ever leaving the app.

    If GarageBand has tweakable synth parameters, sampling and some flexibility in the drum pad area, it'll REPLACE NanoStudio.

    It's absurd to wish for NanoStudio to sit tight with it's current feature set.


  19. I can understand that devs who make boring overpriced music apps are pissed off. I don't understand that a developer didn't see this coming though!

    For the rest of us [users and interesting developers] it's great I'd say.

    Apple promotes using iPad for music creation!!


  20. I'm a developer of an iOS music app and here is my perspective:

    In 2002 Apple bought a German company named Emagic, the creators of leading music production software Logic Audio. Emagic spent a couple of decades writing and perfecting their code to create Logic, and Apple chose to buy all that code. Why? Because developing multi tracking and music production software is extremely hard work and by no means a simple feat of software engineering. Apple with all it's resources and amazing software engineers chose to buy a couple decades of code development over doing it themselves. They created GarageBand from that code. My point is that creating music software is very hard, which translates to massive amounts of time and energy with serious talent and ability, which boils down to money. Development costs to really compete with someone like Apple are almost prohibitive. Let's not fool ourselves, most devs are going to take a serious hit and many will be forced out of the game.

    Regarding the $4.99 price point: Apple makes money from selling hardware, not software. All their software is for the sole purpose of enhancing the value of their hardware so they can sell more of it. Garageband is here to help sells iPads, the same way it helped sells iMacs and MacBooks. They're not worried about making money off of Garageband. Developers on the other hand make all their money from software and having to compete with such a powerful app that costs only $4.99 is a serious blow. No one works for free and I'm afraid that many of us will no longer be able to make a living doing this and will have to jump ship. I hope I'm wrong.


  21. @'anonymous' GB Supports MIDI? I don't see any reference to that on Apple's website, and I think it's wrong to assume that it does. I suspect that apple might support it eventually, but the lack of any mention of it seems to tell me that it's not supported.


  22. I will be getting GB, just because it does what no other app can do currently: Record gtr and drum tracks in the same app. Hopefully the gtr sound is decent enough. Apps like IK's Amplitube sound pretty good, but to create a song with drums, etc. is a real pain.
    If they can be allowed to plug in to GB, that would be nice. Their multitrack will become useless, of course.

    Complained to a friend of mine (before iPad2 launch) who works at Apple about the segregation of apps and the serious workflow issues. He said “don't worry about it” and “I've seen stuff that will blow your mind”, etc.,
    We'll see…


  23. @Icepulse

    As a long standing user of Reason I assure you that an environment devoid of audiotracks is indeed capable of taking an idea from start to finish – horses for courses, strokes for folks.

    I stand by my original statement which, while not a 'wish' per se, is certainly not 'absurd'. You ask too much of your small investment in a developer, particularly one such as Blip, and seem to loose sight of the amazing functionality you have had for £9.
    I believe the fire-lighting should take place underneath your ridiculous expectations.


  24. Garageband is going to be a threat and offer opportunities for developers. As a musician I find that to get the most out of the iphone / ipad I still have to use a computer DAW. I get great results and spend a lot of time on the phone building things up designing sounds and the like.

    Beatmaker, Nanostudio and Zenon are nice to be able to build up and develop an idea into something more complex. I have really been able to develop interesting drum samples and sequences using these tools. So what I am saying is that I can get my backing track set up but I need the DAW to get my voice and longer (non looped instrument tracks). Honestly I find trying to get the bpm and melody lines done and then copy and paste them into the actual song without hearing it as I play a bit difficult.

    So I think Garageband will be great for me to be able to collage stuff together. The Apogee adapter seems to be great as well. I have never seen the Somna adapter in the flesh at a store and it does not work with my phone. I do use irig and though it is nice for a roughing out of something I find the hiss unbearable.

    It is no doubt part of Apples long term plans to bring all the iLife apps to the pad and phone. In the process I think that they will bring the iOS more closely to the capabilities of the X platform.

    Well first will the fully developed suite of instruments and effects in Garageband be bad for some developers. Yes, but I think there may be a wrinkle here that might be positive for developers. The integration of AU into Garageband could let developers make their instruments compliant and then you could use them as midi instruments in Garageband as well they could sell versions in the X app store for use on the regular version of Garageband where you could for example take something from Zenon across to Garage band as a midi file with the instruments and then finish it off. move it to your desktop and Zenon would be a plug in there as well to add more tracks.

    This type of universal AU (audio units) architecture seems standard like midi would seem like something that will be added to the iOS as time goes on. Would I want my Fender Amplitube amps in Garage band hell yes. Could the MultiTrack DAW people use this to improve their software with more tracks yes. Could I finally get Tibor Horvath’s stand alone eq and reverb to work in the program so I could audition its effect against other tracks, sounds good to me.

    What if you could buy Amplitubes effects through Garageband as a add on or if you had the stand alone app they would be available in Garageband. I love electric organ and I am sure that I would be wanting Organ+ in addition to whatever offering are free with Garageband or create a piece in Blipbox and bring the midi file over and have a Blipbox player app allow me to put that down to one track in GarageBand.

    This shows a big commitment to music creation on the iphone by Apple. I don’t think they want to wipe out the developers on the phone but perhaps give them more resources to integrate to make a more effective tools as they do on a regular computer.


  25. A) rondema said…

    “As a long standing user of Reason I assure you that an environment devoid of audiotracks is indeed capable of taking an idea from start to finish – horses for courses, strokes for folks.”

    Not if you have any interest in adding guitar, vibes, vocals, etc.

    I think you're wrong, and in correcting your error, I'd revise your sentence:

    “..environment devoid of audiotracks is indeed capable of taking MY ideaS from start to finish”

    B) rondema said…

    “I stand by my original statement which, while not a 'wish' per se, is certainly not 'absurd'. You ask too much of your small investment in a developer, particularly one such as Blip, and seem to loose sight of the amazing functionality you have had for £9.
    I believe the fire-lighting should take place underneath your ridiculous expectations.”

    I don't ask anything. I merely commented that, unless Blip wants to get crushed under the wheels of GB, they're well-advised to make sure they stay neck-and-neck with Apple on this one. It's that simple. NS has a great layout, and I'll be surprised if GB can maintain the performance and stability of NS, fresh out of the gate. In other words, if NS can keep pace w/ GB in terms of features, it's strengths will keep it on top, instead of falling into obscurity due to its inability to do all the things GB can (for a lower price-tag).

    So check yourself and your snide commentary.


  26. Also, the importance of audio tracks is a lot more significant when you consider the headache of working between apps on an iPad, vs. the relative simplicity of working on a song, between multiple apps, on a PC / Mac.


  27. Also, the importance of audio tracks is a lot more significant when you consider the headache of working between apps on an iPad, vs. the relative simplicity of working on a song, between multiple apps, on a PC / Mac.


  28. From my perspective it seems the concern should be more around Apple's pricing model with the App Store, which is all about quantity over quality. I think that could hurt small developers on some level since the way Apple is setting the bar, any app over $5 would be seen as pretty expensive – I'm sure there are already many users who don't buy apps over $0.99 and this would only tend to pull prices down further. I blogged some more thoughts about this here: http://minijackmusic.com/?p=54a


  29. @Icepulse

    Your English seems good, however I'll try to clarify a few points for you. When I said 'horses for courses' the implication was that not everyone has the same requirements, myself included. No need to reword my sentence.

    'Snide' suggests insinuation, I was merely stating it as I feel to be the case. Neither of us are right or wrong, however both here and elsewhere you often make demands whereby developers ought to satisfy your particular needs or face an inevitable demise. I'm a little tired of your mildy threatening tone… the world doesn't owe you anything, come to terms with that fact.

    And have a nice day 🙂


  30. Since you're hung up on semantics, I'll ask you to clarify the following:

    A)Exactly where I've made “demands”.
    B)Exactly what part of any comment I've made might be construed as “threatening”.

    You began the flaming by referring to my “ridiculous expectations”, although I've no expectations, ridiculous or otherwise. I merely suggested that BMII / NS will need to match features in order to stay competitive, but your contrasting opinion seems to have morphed into a very sensitive defense against and imagined attack.

    Quit while you're behind, Rondema.


  31. While we're at it…

    “…When I said 'horses for courses' the implication was that not everyone has the same requirements, myself included. No need to reword my sentence”

    …let's just say that the “implication” of some obscure turn-of-phrase has little to do with the likely inference, so I'd suggest that there's a TREMENDOUS need to reword your sentence.


  32. There is absolutely no indication there will be plugin AU support for GarageBand.

    Plugins are not supported anywhere on iOS. Even if Apple decided to facilitate AU plugins there's no mechanism to sell or distribute AU plugins as there is for standalone apps. Adding a new type of binary to the iOS infrastructure would require huge changes to the platform and is unprecedented. It would require revising the App Store (iTunes and on-device app). It would requiring revising the development tools and development process. It would require revising the security model.

    Alternatively, if AUs were to function more like ReWire that would require major changes to CoreAudio, CoreMIDI and the iOS SDK multitasking models, and security policies. Again huge changes.

    Now think about the small niche of people who would demand more voicing options than what GarageBand will provide. How many people are going to demand more effects options than the build-in options GarageBand will provide? And how many of those people can't be satisfied by moving their projects to their Mac and then into GarageBand or Logic?

    In short, it isn't going to happen.


  33. The effect of GarageBand on iPad music developers will be somewhat like the effect of a Guitar Center opening next door to Pop's Music Shop.


  34. When I read all comments I only can draw one conclusion, developers should start to look at android. Because afaik there aren't any killer audio apps yet for the Android OS. So there's a whole new market to explore and a lot more to gain gain than the 100+ synth app for iOS.


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