You’ve seen “pay what you want” pricing for self-released albums on Bandcamp, and independent donationware software. But you certainly haven’t seen it in a major proprietary application like Reason 6. That’s what Swedish developer Propellerhead is doing with their Reason 6 upgrade, with name-your-own-price starting at EUR/USD 1.00, through the end of October. (One, not one hundred. Really. Apologies for embedding what’s essentially an advertisement below, but the video explains it.)
Edit: Readers observe that Reason 2.5 was a free upgrade, which is arguably just as notable as a pay-what-you-will upgrade here.
Now, this isn’t for everyone: it’s the upgrade, not the full product, and it’s only for people who own a copy of Reason and a copy of Record. In effect, what the upgrade does is reward early adopters who purchased Reason and Record Duo or bought Record separately on top of an existing copy of Reason. My feeling was certainly that the two products should have been offered together from the start. Many Reason users complained that they weren’t getting all the new audio recording features (only a sampling feature). And I noted in a review of Record for Macworld that Record didn’t come with everything unless you also bought Reason. The bundling of Reason and Record functionality into a single product called “Reason” to me makes perfect sense, and the deal here reflects that.
For that reason, I wouldn’t go as far as asking, as Jo-Ann at Shocklee does, if this is the future of music software pricing. But it is a big deal, and it proves that more significant names in music software can take some risks. It’s also a nice bargain: remember that Reason 6′s price, reflecting the incorporation of both programs, is effectively what you paid for Reason + Record duo, and that even if you have both, you still get some nice, new effects. (I’ve been playing with them for a few weeks, so expect a write-up on that soon, once I actually sit down and make some real music with them.)
But for me, the bottom line is, it’s nice to see a good idea trump caution in the accounting department.