202118 Nov

Inside Ableton, the Music Software Company Everyone Wants to Buy


It was July 2020, and Behles and another Ableton executive were on the call with an unlikely group of potential investors: Diplo, the DJ-producer; Scooter Braun, the entrepreneur who manages Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, among others; and Joshua Kushner, brother of Jared, husband of model Karlie Kloss and head of Thrive Capital. His straight hair is perfectly combed into a new wave curl, he’s wearing a suit — which he does every day to avoid thinking about how to dress — and he says his life is “probably very boring.” But he is the driving force behind Ableton’s refusal to sell at a time when the growth of the digital music business would make it a tempting, and very valuable, acquisition. In Monolake (which signed to a German independent record label but never found a mass audience), they first used a music-focused programming language called Max, then began to write the software that became Ableton Live. Running on both Macs and PCs, the software made it easy for users without much recording know-how to manipulate snippets of music — changing pitches, transitioning between passages, cutting and pasting tracks, and even building beats, or for that matter entire songs, from scratch. This audio manipulation congealed into a new sound that Michaelangelo Matos described as “a crisp, computery flutter — the seemingly true voice of the tinny, bright machines making it,” in his 2015 history of electronic music, The Underground Is Massive.

Source: Billboard