If there’s one thing that we know about music production, it’s that it’s incredibly expensive.
Gear acquisition syndrome is a real thing, and as producers, we constantly feel like we need the next plugin or instrument in order to finally get the sound that we’re looking for.
Of course, the problem is that all of these purchases can add up quickly, which has led many musicians to resort to piracy – something that truly hurts companies looking to innovate and bring new products to the market.
(Not to mention, the viruses, time wasted debugging broken software, and the general ethics of it all.)
Fortunately, Splice has popularized something that benefits both musicians and companies alike – rent-to-own plugins.
How Does Splice Work?
In a nutshell, you pay a monthly fee for access to virtual instruments, plugins, and other software immediately.
This is nothing new. Companies like Sounds Online have popularized subscription services with their EastWest Composer Cloud plan, and overall it seems to be like this may be the direction that the industry is heading. While many people praise this, the idea of renting software forever and never truly owning it isn’t exactly a welcome thought either.
What makes Splice unique is that at the end of your payment, you own the software outright. It’s forever yours, and the monthly fee ends. This makes it possible to build that library of VSTs without breaking the bank or needing to save.
But it gets better.
Using Splice, you can cancel, pause and resume your subscriptions at any time. If you try something out and find out that you just aren’t using it as much as you thought you would, you can cancel the subscription without the obligation to finish paying the full price. On the opposite end, if you realize that you really are enjoying a piece of software that you’re renting and you know that you’ll want to keep it, you are free to pay off the remainder at any time should you wish to do so.
Additionally, there is no interest or hidden fees, nor are there any credit checks / reporting. Software purchased using Splice tends to be the exact same price as it’s sold through the original manufacturer (unless they run a sale.) Therefore, you don’t lose out on anything, or end up paying more by going through Splice.
It’s just a simple, convenient way to spread out your purchase over a longer period of time, and be able to enjoy expensive software straight away.
Is Splice Legit?
Absolutely – and the process of getting the plugins, VIs and other software on your machine is just as simple as any other.
You start your subscription, and Splice provides you the installation instructions. You then install the software just like any other.
At the end of the subscription, you are given a serial key and are free to use the plugin (without Splice) forever.
Note that throughout your subscription, you’ll be required to have the Splice software installed on your computer and run it at least once every three days in order to keep your products authorized. This isn’t really something you have to think about if you let the software launch when your computer boots up, though it is another small piece of software running in the background.
As a plus side though, Splice will make sure your software is kept up-to-date, which is nice.
After your subscription ends, you no longer need the Splice software at all and can safely remove it from your computer if you wish to do so.
What Are The Downsides?
I have nothing bad to say about Splice, and these two minor points are not really Splice’s fault at all.
The first is that plugin companies are notorious for putting their products on sale. Although Splice charges the normal price of whatever the manufacturer is charging, Splice can’t help it if the manufacturer suddenly runs some sort of discount. This may be one instance where you may end up paying more with Splice, than you would buying the plugins outright.
Tip: Google the name of your desired purchase before starting a Splice subscription, to see when plugin creators run sales – and how deep these sales go. Serum for example, which is one of the most popular instruments Splice offers, never runs sales, so it is always a safe bet.
The second is that due to the fact that Splice is so cheap to use, it’s easy to collect a bunch of plugins you don’t actually need – yet you’ll still ultimately end up paying for. If you rent-to-own a $1,000 worth of software, you are still spending $1,000 – even if it spread out over two years.
Often times people hurt themselves financially by acquiring too many obligations, and it will really suck to have to cancel some of your subscriptions after some of these plugins have already become a core part of your workflow. So, just watch out for that.
Our Favorite Splice Plugins
To finish out this article, let’s look over some of our favorite plugins that Splice offers through their rent-to-own program!
This was the plugin that originally introduced me to Splice’s rent-to-own program. In fact, Splice is usually the recommended way that people purchase it, due to the fact that Xfer Records doesn’t really run sales.
Serum is one of the most popular synthesizers available today, particularly for modern EDM and hip-hop music. That being said, the sheer power and flexibility of Serum makes it a great investment for producers working in all genres.
One of its strong points is the easy-to-understand nature of its layout, making it a great first choice for producers looking to delve deeper into understanding synthesizers, and beginning sound design.
The ability to create and import your own wavetables also makes it particularly versatile, and there are thousands of presets available online that people have designed and shared.
Arturia V Collection 8
For a synth (or rather a bunch of them) that are quite different than Serum, the V Collection by Arturia is a fantastic choice – and perhaps the best analog vintage synth bundle available today.
While the crisp perfection of Serum’s oscillators are great for modern music, V Collection 8 emulates many of the classic synthesizers that made up countless records of the past.
The electric pianos included in V Collection 8 are also nothing to brush off, nor are the modeled acoustic pianos either.
Ozone 9 + Neutron 3 Advanced
Although these are separate plugins, I bundled them together for the sake of simplicity.
If you don’t have many mixing or mastering tools, Ozone 9 and Neutron 3 can fill in a lot of the gaps, all at once.
Their relatively new feature that listens to your music and uses AI to master it automatically is a little bit gimmicky, but can be a great starting point for you to tweak further – especially if you are new to mixing and mastering and can use some guidance.
That being said, the cheapest way to usually get both plugins is usually through iZotope’s Music Production Suite sales that go on every so often, which are a better deal than what Splice offers on them. The Music Production Suite also includes Nectar 3 Plus, RX 9 Standard, Neoverb, Stutter Edit 2, R4, VocalSynth 2, Insight 2, NIMBUS, and Total Balance Control 2.
When the bundle goes on sale, it is the same price as Ozone 9 alone. Though no fault of Splice’s, it’s best to avoid plugins that go on deep discounts elsewhere, since Splice plugins are based off the full, non-discounted price.
RC-20 Retro Color
Deemed as the ultimate lo-fi plugin and a great way to add ‘color’ to your sound even in other genres, the RC-20 plugin is one I use quite frequently.
It adds this analog warmth and life to otherwise dull tracks and the built-in effects are simple and quick to use.
This plugin has become such a core part of some people’s sound, that they claim they use it on almost every track. It’s currently on Splice for $5 a month, so feel free to trial it for a little bit and see how it can colorize your mixes!
It’s exciting to see Splice’s selection growing, and we hope that more and more manufacturers make their products available through programs such as this.
Not only does it make professional plugins accessible to everyone, but it surely cuts down on piracy of music production software – a real problem that is plaguing the industry at the moment.