2012 has been an extremely active and exciting year for Electrotap.
We founded Electrotap in January 2004 after working together on a lot of projects in the preceding years. Since then a lot has changed, both in the world and in our lives. Jesse now has four amazing kids and I’m privileged to have two. Jesse is a full tenure-track faculty member at LSU. I am fully engaged working with Cycling ’74. In the process we had let Electrotap wane. We decided that for 2012 we would reinvigorate Electrotap and see what we could learn from the experience. We learned a lot.
Some exciting progress was made brainstorming new products, updating TapTools for Max 6, launching the new Hemispheres, releasing our first iOS app, selling a minimal version of the Teabox, and overhauling the website. We exhausted ourselves in the process, but it was the fun kind of exhaustion!
The World Has Changed
One of the things we learned was that despite any efforts in updating our existing product line, these products have essentially run their course. The world has changed.
When the Teabox was released in 2004 it was not only superior in its performance, but it was also competitively priced ($400 as compared to the $650 I-Cube or $1200 Kroonde). In 2012 a $400 Teabox is still superior in performance, but a $40 Arduino is just too large a price gap to overcome. It cost us more than three times that to produce a Teabox ourselves!
We sold the last of our Teaboxes in November and decided not to invest in building more.
TapTools similarly finds itself in a dramatically different world. When it was birthed in the late 1990′s and early 2000′s, there were essentially no decent free VST plug-ins that you could use. There were many fewer objects in Max. It was much harder to build things in Max. Now the world is awash in free Max objects, free or cheap VST plug-ins, and Max itself is dramatically more full-featured and easier to learn and use.
While TapTools still has value, it does not possess the value that it once did when many considered the package to be “essential” to using Max and MSP.
The effort we poured into Electrotap this past year was rewarding, as Jesse and I greatly enjoy collaborating together. It also cast into relief the aforementioned observations. Electrotap has had a lot of successes, from TapTools to Hipno to the Teabox, to the Hemisphere. But the amount of effort required to keep turning the cranks is also daunting.
As an example, prior to Electrotap, I had always considered myself an artist and composer first; an engineer or software designer second. Since the birth of my second child I have not written a single piece of music. I’m still in awe of Jesse in that he has managed to continue writing.
I’ve seen a number of other artist/coders in the past let their business side wane and wither, but never give clear closure to it. We don’t want to go back down that road. We need to have closure and make a clean cut.
It’s time to write music again.
We know this news will impact some harder than others. We are incredibly grateful to all who have supported us over the years, both through purchases and through words of encouragement and feedback.
The Teabox is now open source and you can find all of the design files for your use as you see fit. The same is true for all of our sensors and accessories.
Stephan Moore is now selling the Hemisphere directly through his new company Isobel Audio. We hope you will consider buying a Hemisphere from him! They really are amazing and it was a tremendous privilege working with Stephan for all these years.
TapTools is getting a rebirth of sorts via 74 Objects. It is now open source. There is still a recommended donation of $25 for using it. There is no more required authorization (the bane of my existence for the last N years). The source code is available which, among other things, opens the door for bringing a Windows version back. For anyone who has ordered TapTools from Electrotap over the last month, we have either refunded (or not charged you for) your purchases.
The future of Hipno is still cloudy due to the retirement of Pluggo by Cycling ’74. Hopefully it will come back in some form, possibly through the Plugtastic project in Jamoma.
HipnoTouch is now available for free on the AppStore.
We genuinely appreciate the patronage, support, and opportunities that have been given to us each personally and as Electrotap. We count the experience of Electrotap as one of the great blessings in our lives, and hope we have been able to share the blessing back in a small way to everyone else in our community.
Now it’s time to experience different opportunities and blessings. It’s time to write music again.