“Reason’s competition is actually Netflix and Steam”: CEO Niklas Agevik sees Reason as more than just a DAW
Speaking from Reason Studios HQ in Stockholm, Agevik gives us all the latest on Reason 13, tells us about the company’s vision and has his say on AI
Niklas Agevik at Reason Studios HQ
MusicTech is searching Stockholm for the Reason Studios headquarters. The brand, since 2000 as Propellerhead Software, has offered producers a software-based solution that mimics a studio rack, letting you drop in its own collection of new synths and classic emulations, such as the Objekt Modeling Synth, Algoritm and Thor. Ultimately, with this all-in-one visually appealing software hub, production becomes fun and at times educational.
After a short meander through a cobbled courtyard in the Swedish capital’s Hornstull area, we’re buzzed up to the office. It’s 6 pm on a Friday, so it’s virtually empty, apart from brand ambassador and producer Tobtok and collaborators farfech’d, who are shifting crates of beer, preparing for a launch party to celebrate the release of their new EP, My Friends.
We and Reason’s CEO – as the kitchen space is transformed into a dancefloor – head to the quieter space of his desk.
“Our mission is to turn music dreamers into music makers,” Niklas Agevik starts, echoing the company’s longstanding mission.
“It should be inviting to make music. The competition isn’t other DAWs or plugins; the competition is actually Netflix or Steam – nothing to do with making music at all. When we say ‘turn music dreamers into music makers,’ it’s actually about making it so that you want to come home and start up Reason. It’s about making music-making as fun as it can be.”
There’s certainly a sense of fun in the – albeit empty – office. Behind Niklas is a life-size Daft Punk helmet. A sticker on a pillar reads ‘The anti expert expert club’.
Right now, Niklas says as he sips a can of Swedish IPA, Reason Studios is an office focussed entirely listening to Reason users to make their products better, as opposed to any side quests, if you will, such as apps and hardware.
There have been times where we’ve been too focussed on pioneering… we’ve come back and said, you know, we want to focus on Reason.
“There have been times where we’ve been too focussed on pioneering. We built a social network for musicians, where they could share music with each other. We went into hardware [integration], and I think all of those products were great.
“But now, we’ve come back and said, you know, we want to focus on Reason. And I think that’s been a big part of the company’s journey over the last five, six years. All of the company is now focused on actually building Reason and making Reason better.”
Part of that is by breaking the fourth wall, opening up the floor to feedback from fans and interacting with Reason users. The Tobtok and farfetch’d EP launch party is one example of that.
“We try to participate in the community. There’s a community forum they run themselves called Reason Talk. We answer questions and try to be active on social media. We invite people to our office, we host parties here and invite users to come here and party with us.”
There’s even an open invite to book a lunch with Niklas himself with a queue forming. “That’s a lot of lunch!” he says with a laugh.
Not only has the company opened up the floor to its fans, but it’s also given third-party plugin developers the means to include its VST plugins within the Reason DAW. In 2020, Reason Rack allowed you tp use Reason natively within your DAW, without the outmoded method of ReWire.
“If you go back 20 years, “ he says, “Reason was more locked in and it couldn’t handle VSTs, for example. We’ve been on a journey to open up Reason and ensure that it plays a part in the ecosystem. We don’t expect our customers to come in and use only Reason’s devices or content when making music, but we want to make sure that Reason works well in whatever setup you have. If you want to use Reason for everything, that’s amazing. Go ahead. But if you have an existing setup and don’t want to switch DAWs, you can use Reason alongside your DAW or use Reason standalone.”
We’ve seen the software develop a lot since it was first launched in 2000 – and even more so since it was ReBirth in the 90s. The user interface has transformed from a basic single-window design to a modern, polished interface that’s resizable and more user-friendly. The number of available devices and instruments has grown, accommodating third-party extensions.
Perhaps the most substantial improvement is in audio recording capabilities. While Reason 1 offered limited audio recording functionality, Reason 12.6 now functions as a full-fledged DAW, providing advanced audio recording and editing capabilities.
So, when can we expect to see Reason 13? Not just yet, it seems.
We’ve changed our approach lately. We used to be a very secretive company, keeping our plans close to our chest… as part of our effort to be more open, we now publish our plans on our blog.
“We’ve changed our approach lately. We used to be a very secretive company, keeping our plans close to our chest,” Niklas explains. “However, as part of our effort to be more open, we now publish our plans on our blog. Currently, we’re very focused on Reason 12.
“We recently released version 12.6 just before the summer, which was optimised for the new Apple M1 Macs. We have another version, 12.7, in the pipeline, which will enhance how you handle content in Reason. You can find our future plans for Reason on our blog. We’re dedicated to making Reason better and more exciting, with a particular focus on developing innovative devices that are unique to Reason.”
Reason 12.7 is set to launch on 9 October, completely replacing its Authorizer feature with the Companion app for all users, whether they subscribe to Reason+ or are one-off customers. The Companion app serves as the tool for downloading and overseeing Rack Extensions and content (such as Sound Packs) in Reason+. With the Companion app, you can explore, browse, listen to, and install Sound Pack content that is regularly offered on a weekly basis. Although it’s not a drastic update to Reason 12.6’s features, Agevik tells us, it is another example of how the brand strives to educate and assist its users.
Any reason to integrate AI?
AI technology is playing a more and more prominent role in music production, we point out to Niklas. However, it’s not going to play a predominant role in the future of Reason, Niklas says, as, for a software that is so dedicated to making producers realise the joy of making music. Hitting a button to eliminate that defeats the point of Reason, essentially.
“I think in a world of AI and generated music, the ability to make your own music is crucial. Reason is about sounding unique. It’s packed with devices that don’t exist elsewhere, featuring a distinct workflow. We believe this uniqueness is what truly helps you find your own voice.
“I’m sure we’re probably going to incorporate AI features into Reason, where you can say ‘write me a bassline’ or transition from a verse to a chorus. However, the essence of music-making, education, and inspiration remains central to Reason. Our focus is on refining your craft and simplifying music production. We’ll continue creating exciting devices, improving Reason’s user-friendliness, and providing more tools. While AI may evolve, our vision for Reason remains unchanged, emphasizing musical inspiration and craftsmanship.”
Keep up to date with all things Reason at reasonstudios.com.
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