I was very pleased when a little over a month ago, Bandlab rescued PC-based software company Cakewalk from the incompetent clutches of Gibson. As you probably know, last November, Gibson, as is its habit, had suddenly announced that all Cakewalk programs including the flagship DAW, Sonar, were being discontinued.

At the time, Bandlab didn’t discuss its plans for Cakewalk, but we wouldn’t have believed them if they had, because yesterday, Sonar re-emerged as Cakewalk for Bandlab and it is now freeware.

Immediately, netizens began looking for the catch. Some were concerned that this new Cakewalk was a  “streamlined” version. And it’s true that it’s not quite the full package previously offered as Sonar Platinum, but what it’s missing is third-party plug-ins and content which wasn’t part of the sale anyway. Other than that it IS Sonar Platinum

Others were concerned that they were required to join Bandlab in order to download the program. But as with Cakewalk, Bandlab is free.

So why is Bandlab doing this? According to spokesperson, Meng, it because of their commitment to “a world in which there are no barriers, physical, geographical or technical to the making and sharing of music.”  It appears to be inline with their strategy for Bandlab

As are all cloud-based DAWs, Bandlab is quite limited compared to professional software. As it was explained to me, the idea is that Bandlab is to Cakewalk as Instagram is to Photoshop. At present, there’s no particular connection between the two programs and projects created in any DAW can be uploaded to Bandlab. Two of the lead developers from Cakewalk are also joining the company, so it’s reasonable to expect some continued support and development of the program.e 

With free social media-based programs for both the general public and for education and now a free pro product, Bandlab appears poised to become a serious player in the online DAW market. I’m looking forward to seeing what they have in store in the future.