In a bit of ground-shaking news, we’ve learned that Allen & Heath are in discussions to purchase the Traktor product line from Native Instruments.
Multiple sources with knowledge of the deal confirmed that representatives from Allen & Heath have been in Berlin within the last month at the Native Instruments office working on discussing the terms of the deal. One source noted that other companies in the industry have also been in talks about partnerships and purchases of the DJ software and hardware line.
Our Thoughts: Traktor Will Live On, Probably Even Stronger
Native Instruments has a massive (pun intended) product line up – one that we suspect has gotten hard to maintain equal focus in terms of investment and resources. It makes a lot of sense to us that they would consider selling Traktor: it allows a lot more energy to be invested in their other product lines (Komplete and Maschine).
Instead of letting Traktor slowly fade away (as it seemed the company was considering doing 2-3 years ago when updates slowed), a sale or change in management means a few things. Note that these are all our own perspectives, and not confirmed by NI or A&H:
- Traktor will continue to be developed (you don’t buy a product to let it fade, unless you make a competing product)
- Traktor has been recognized as a powerful niche tool with value for specialist DJs (the kind who might use Allen & Heath mixers) who do a specific kind of DJing
- Allen & Heath will likely expand their DJ offerings and (maybe) get back into DJ controllers
Why Would Allen & Heath Buy Traktor?
As we saw earlier this year with the release of the Pioneer DJ DJM-V10, the competitive landscape for Allen & Heath in the DJ market is alive and well. If Pioneer DJ rules the world, then Xone products don’t do as well. And what Pioneer DJ has is full vertical integration between hardware and software (Rekordbox). By buying Traktor, Allen & Heath (or another company) could be aiming to do something similar, but catering to a specific type of DJ.
Think about it – almost every touring DJ who is still currently using Traktor is likely a fan of Allen & Heath in some way, from their Xone:K2 controllers to the Xone:92/96 mixers, or perhaps even a few DJs with a Xone:DB4. There’s a lot of potential synergy here that Allen & Heath could take advantage of.
Allen & Heath generally has been a hardware-only company within the DJ space, sticking mostly to analog and digital mixers, with a few momentous forays into the digital DJ controller space:
- the XONE:4D and 3D which was a combined mixer and controller powerhouse.
- the XONE:2D and 1D – MIDI controllers that looked like just one end of the 4D
- the XONE:DX, an often forgotten Serato ITCH controller with four channels
What Can Traktor DJs Expect?
Honestly, when I first saw this news I was momentarily worried – but upon further reflection, I think this could be great for Traktor DJs. For one, it guarantees that the current state of Traktor isn’t going anywhere and will continue to be supported.
At the same time, the sale also means that there’s a company soon to be in charge of the software’s development that is looking to grow and expand, as opposed to simply maintain the current circumstance. Even if the rumors of a sale are overblown and there’s instead simply a full-fledged partnership with another company to develop Traktor, this means growth and improvement is a priority for everyone involved.
Many Traktor DJs also mourned the discontinuation of Traktor accessory products like the Kontrol D2, but that seems perfectly suited to a re-think/re-release by Allen & Heath. Let’s call it the Kontrol:K2?
Who Else Might Take Over Traktor?
Our sources primarily have all mentioned Allen & Heath, but we have also been cautioned that other companies and groups have expressed interest in being a part of the future of Traktor. There’s a very real chance that Allen & Heath are just one of a number of companies that have been in talks. Here’s some off-the-cuff takes on who else might make sense, or not:
- Behringer: They’ve largely exited the DJ scene after a foray with the CMD units in 2012/3. However, we have heard a tip that suggests that representatives from this giant corporation (Music Tribe) may also have been in similar talks as Allen & Heath were. While the synergy makes a lot less sense with Behringer, it might allow them to leap right back into the DJ market very quickly.
- InMusic: this one seems relatively unlikely – they’ve got their own EngineOS that essentially is a full-fledged DJ software (with integration in all of their DJ products)
- Novation: It would be a bit of a left turn for Novation to get back into the DJ market, right?
- Ableton / Bitwig / another DAW: Not a horrible idea for a DAW to seek out a software to heavily integrate with, but this seems like it would have been a path NI would have preferred to take internally?
- Apple: It wouldn’t be insane to consider a tech giant any time you’re thinking of an acquisition – especially one with a whole division focused around music production. But wouldn’t Apple go knocking on Algoriddim’s doors first?
- Algoriddim: Since we mentioned them, they’re also an option – but the team at Algoriddim is small, and it’s unclear if they would have the cash required to purchase and operate a full hardware/software division combination like Traktor.
- Roland: Probably a bit too heavily partnered with Serato at the moment within the DJ sphere, but they certainly have the resources to take on this size of an enterprise.
- Mixed in Key: While they’ve built a number of powerful DJ software products themselves, somehow taking over a huge division like Traktor seems unlikely.
- A competing DJ software company: this seems highly unlikely that a competitor would buy Traktor to run it into the ground – mainly because the passionate folks at NI would probably never let it happen.
What We Still Don’t Know
There’s a lot that we’re still unsure of at the moment about this deal – here’s a few things that are worth pointing out:
- We don’t know exactly what’s being sold (is it just the software, or are the hardware lineup and legacy product designs also being sold?)
- Will it be a true sale, or more of a shared partnership (and what might that look like)?
- Will the Traktor team and staff move as part of the sale?
- What dollar value would a company pay for Traktor?
- Will Allen & Heath bring on Richie Hawtin as Director of DJ Products? 😉
Have a tip, story idea, or information you think we should know?
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editor (at) djtechtools (dot) com.