FREE ADVICE AND CHEAP STUFF: User Groups and Group Buys

by Steve Cunningham

Production folks have been trading hints and tips with each other electronically since the first modem-based bulletin-board systems sprang up in the late 1980s. With the spread of high-speed Internet access, some of these loosely-connected groups have established permanent homes on the Internet in the form of User Groups. Do a quick search and you’ll find a User Group for nearly every brand of software editor, plug-in, or platform you can come up with. Some groups use the forums provided on the manufacturer’s website, like the Digidesign User Conference on digidesign.com. Other groups have established independent forums, and several have taken up residence at groups.yahoo.com.

These User Groups can be important resources for you, especially when Things Go Wrong with your editor. You can post questions and get answers from other users, or just search through the posts to see if the specific problem you’re having is really within the software or if it’s with the operator! But Groups can also save you money through Group Buys.

The Group Buy phenomenon is a recent development within User Groups. The concept is simple — the moderator of the User Group approaches a manufacturer of software or soundware on behalf of the Group membership, with an offer to buy a number of copies at significantly reduced prices. Usually they’ll set up a discount structure that depends on the number of Group members that commit to purchasing the product. There’s a time limit on the deal, so members have to commit within that limit. For example, the recent group buy on PSP Vintage Warmer and Nitro, both of which list for $149, was structured as follows:

  • 10-20 signups = $109
  • 21-35 signups = $99
  • 36-50 signups = $89
  • 50-99 signups = $79
  • 100+ signups = $69

In this instance, 330 users signed up for Vintage Warmer, and 216 for Nitro, so both plug-ins were available at the $69 price point (that’s what I paid for my copies). Members received an email with a private link where they could download the product, and submit their credit card for payment.

Keep in mind that many of the products offered in group buys won’t be of interest to most production people... unless you need a large orchestral string sample library, that is. But in any case the Group Buy represents a win-win for both the group members and the manufacturer. In a recent case, the maker of the aforementioned orchestral string library offered a collection normally priced at $1000 for $400, a serious 60% off, if the total buyers reached 81. When the time expired they had racked up over 800 sales at that price.

Incidentally, in many cases you don’t have to be a formal “member” of the group in order to participate in the Group Buy. But you do have to be aware of it, and if you commit to purchasing something you do have to follow through — the moderator will dog you if you don’t, and you won’t be welcome in future. Here are a couple of links I check from time to time to see if anything interesting pops up:

http://logic-users.org/groupbuy.php

http://www.kvraudio.com/index.php?s=offers

I’m sure there are others, so keep your peepers peeled for screamin’ deals.

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