Waves Introduces Waves Creative Access Subscription


Waves launches Waves Creative Access, a new subscription-only pricing model with monthly and annual subscriptions.

As with many of you, I awoke this morning to find an email from Waves explaining their removal of all perpetual licensing. Best Service and Audio Deluxe both had heralded that something was amiss, but I suppose the other shoe has finally dropped.

Waves Creative Access is the current plan of action from Waves, and the subscription comes in two separate flavours.

Users have access to Waves Essential at $14.99 a month or $149.99 per year. This gives access to 110 plugins from the company, which I suppose isn’t a bad deal – all things considered.

Waves Ultimate comes across at $24.99 a month or $249.99 per year, giving subscribers access to 220 plugins. This includes all updates, all future plugins, and so on and so forth. It also includes StudioVerse, an AI mixing assistant to help you “break the knowledge barrier in mixing,” per Waves’ website.

Also up for grabs are two free months of Splice, which might be of use for sample-heavy producers. Waves Creative Access comes with a free 7-day trial.

This certainly comes as an interesting business move from Waves. Certain companies like Plugin Alliance and Slate Digital have long-established subscriptions. Some of these pack extra value, like the PA MEGA XXL which gives you ten plugins a year every year without fail.

Waves’ subscription plan has proven to be rather controversial, for lack of a better word. This comes in the wake of the also controversial Waves Update Plan, and representatives from Waves have kept tight-lipped in regard to the future of perpetual licenses, but all indicators seem to point to needing to sub to get the latest and greatest from the developer.

Software-as-a-service does pose certain benefits for companies, by providing a constant revenue stream. It doesn’t necessarily work for the bedroom producer, however.

Hobbyists who aren’t seeking to spend a lot to get a premium plugin are probably going to look elsewhere, and given the impressions seen on social media and web forums, they already are.

Waves Audio plugins are available for Mac and Windows machines. Supported plugin formats are AAX, VST, VST3, and AU. Apple Silicon compatibility was added recently.

What are your thoughts about the new Waves Creative Access subscription? Please share your opinion in your comments section below.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The current subscription prices in the music production marketplace are too high for hobbyist musicians and music producers.

We are used to subscribing to services like Netflix and Disney+ for entertainment, so we would probably also spare a portion of our monthly budget on plugins. But the current asking prices, including the new subscription model from Waves Audio, are too high for the average bedroom producer, resulting in negative opinions about the subscription model itself.

Paying $3-$5 per month and having the ability to choose 10-20 plugins that you really need (instead of 100+ plugins you’ll never use) would be something that bedroom producers would find more useful, in my opinion.

More info: Waves Creative Access

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About Author

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Liam is a producer, mixing engineer, and compressor aficionado. When not mixing, he can be found pretending to play guitar, as he has been doing for the last 20 years.


  1. Totally agree with the editor’s note. I really hate subscription business model when it comes to software in general, more than ever when we’re talking about plugins. Honestly, this really sucks.

    • I concur. There are many, many alternatives to what they’re offering. I get daily emails for deals on all sorts of plugins.

  2. Their decision to do this is greedy and in poor taste, IMO. I don’t want 100+ plugins that I’ll never use and have to pay for forever – I use 3 plugins from them. I thought about getting another one, but not anymore…

  3. So anyone who purchased plugins with lifetime licenses will now need to pay a subscription to access them? What kind of disgustingly greedy business model is this?

  4. Ridiculous and not well thought out. We own a ton of plugins from Waves, and many others. We hated it when other software companies did this, and still do.

    I will try NOT to support this, but we have a huge investment in Waves products so a bit of a connundrum

  5. And we totally agree with the above comments about being roped into their choice of plugins. We don’t use several plugins they are forcing you to pay for.

    BAD Business model. We see a lot of defections from users coming up.

  6. Waves can’t compete against free offerings nowadays, nevermind paid software. Therefore all this does is milk clueless folks that haven’t updated their stack in over 20 years

  7. Joseph Rubiano


    Hi all!
    I’m a music producer and hobbyist mostly. So I can not afford a monthly subscription to everything I need to produce what I produce.
    I consider subscriptions a great choice for companies and not for independent artists who do not earn such an amount of money with just a hobby.
    Waves Audio in my musical activities is dead right now.

  8. I have practically all the Waves plugins bought little by little with a lot of effort.
    Seeing this decision of the company, this business model reminds me of all those years in which Waves products were systematically pirated by many people.
    I thought, too bad! Waves doesn’t deserve this…
    Now, seeing how this company abandons the user of a lifetime, I regret it and think that I should have done the same.

    • The WUP plan annoyed me enough to never want to spend more money on Waves and delete myself from their mailing list (though I still got a WUP email from them recently having previously unsubscribed! And didn’t get this email)….all this move will mean is that I will probably remove all traces of Waves from my computer and never think about them again. This is pure greed tinged arrogance from them.

  9. imo, its a shame they didn’t at least make this subscription optional.
    Oh well… maybe the people in charge could have done some research or a survey or something before imposing this on their customers as the only way.
    I also don’t think it was a good move because it might run the risk of alienating future potential customers as well, i see mixed reactions online and each to their own but imo… this is a big gamble to say the least.
    Hope for some reconsideration on having options available in future.

  10. Bastiaan de Jong


    Three days ago I started searching this website for a free plugin I encountered earlier. I didn’t really know which category it was so it took a while to find it. The plugin I was searching for is Studiorack by Waves.

    I thought great, I’ll remember that and download it tomorrow. Next day it wasn’t free anymore. To make things worse I got an e-mail today of Waves where they promote Studioverse which is part of their payed subscription.

    This is a really bad week regarding my music hobby. Goodbye waves forever. Even if it somehow gets free again I don’t want to have it because of the trauma they caused :D

    Thank you bpb for this article and everything else on this website. Although I haven’t had much time for actually making music for the last three years (meeting someone/marrying/moving twice/getting children) I keep following this website closely.

  11. Yeah. Like, why not creating a dynamic plan for bedroom producers at least. From their numbers, $ 15 for 110 plugins, means a subscription that add $ 0.15 cent per plugin you want to use would be a much greater option for a bedroom producer. If I’m using only 10 plugins, I’ll gladly pay $ 1.5 per month to be able to use those. Just my 2 cents on Waves subscription plan.

  12. Mercury, SSL and Abbey Roads user here. Like most others I am completely disgusted with how Waves have thrown perpetual license owners like me under the bus. It’s essentially a big F-U from a company towards their longtime user base who have essentially paid for Waves growth and success over the past couple of decades. I did just re-up my WUP back in late January but there’s no way I’m using any of their plugins moving forward without some sort of backpedaling on Waves part to reinstate their WUP program for perpetual owners for all future versions. If I can’t be certain of being able to use the Waves plugins that I already have licenses for (past V14) then why would I ever paint myself into a corner on current projects by leaning on soon-to-be non-existent tools? Offering everything as a subscription is fine, but offering everything ONLY as a subscription is NOT. Worse than that, the negating of perpetual license “investors’ ” longterm “investments” whenever their current WUP runs out or whenever V15 comes out is just awful and insulting. V15 will appear sooner than later I’m sure…V15 has probably already been planned and a release date set now that they have announced their subscription-only plans…Seems like their modus operandi these days. I hope they either backtrack on dropping perpetual support or else go bankrupt and belly-up. Absolutely terrible business ethics and their customers should swarm them with support tickets and emails and social posts and any other means possible to voice their ire.

  13. If the subscription model works out for Waves, good on them. I won’t be subscribing, however. Between stock plugins plus ones I’ve bought or got for free, my bases are covered.

    • Recording studio


      You know, all the bad aside, I was wondering how all those producers who lent their name to various Waves plug ins and bundles feel about this. They are associated with this and I cannot imagine they will be happy about it, I know I wouldn’t.

  14. I don’t understand why they made such an alienating decision instead of going with a PA type model.

    I guess part of it is that they’re catering towards the upcoming gen who’ve been raised on ipads and subscription services.

  15. Kim Christopher Neves



    help in the petition for waves to change its purchase and update policy. just name and email.
    I agree in part with the editor’s note. For new users it would be nice to pay a subscription. But what about users who have already paid thousands of dollars and will no longer be able to upgrade or buy a specific plugin without having to subscribe to it. That’s disrespectful.

  16. “We are used to subscribing to services like Netflix and Disney+ for entertainment” No “WE” are not. I don’t sub to these services either. And money’s been tight so I don’t have Playstation Plus or Amazon Prime. My monthly bills involve: rent + utilities (electric, internet, water), car insurance, phone ($20). And I spend on food, gas, the occasional plugin. That’s it.

    Waves will not be getting any of my money going forward.

  17. interesting to say the least. not sure if other companies have gotten this much backlash after going subscription only?
    i guess that waves was already controversial enough before this, due to WUP
    so if a controversial company does something even more controversial, i guess outrage is inevitable.

    i cannot see this as a win? considering the outrage is damn near universal, i guess that as of right now, only major studios, dependent on waves will sign up. maybe they were expecting this though? maybe they still think that after the dust settles, and enough people leave, they can still get enough subscribers for it to be worth it?

    in the last years, waves has clearly shifted their focus to targeting bedroom/beginner producers/beat makers, which in itself a crazy move, but maybe there is more money to be made selling only basic sounds and presets?

    maybe if the outrage is big enough, to the point that even the “influencers”/youtubers that the new producers follow speak out against this, so maybe new producers might also look elsewhere?

    let’s not forget that when bitwig announced their spectral tools for the 1st time as an extra purchase, the outrage online was so big that they reversed their decision, and included it to all owners lol

    so time will tell what will happen to waves i guess?

    tbh personally, i was already skeptical of waves before, only due to their WUP. i’d always claim my license when they offered a freebie, but still avoided using them, just for this reason, and definitely never bought a waves plugin. ironically, the freebie i liked the most, was BPBs own freebie Sibilance, but with perfect timing, i was able to get linell 902 deesser yesterday for free thanks to the mega20 voucher :D

  18. you arent buying the plugins. you are renting them. renting a product that will be obsolete when Waves authorization servers go down.

  19. there are enough alternatives! what kind of musicians and producers are they who support it with their names i unsubscribe waves mails …… never again!

  20. Too terrible to plan, I won’t buy waves plugins anymore, the studiorack that decided to be free, turns into a broken promise.

  21. I already don’t like Waves, they aren’t exactly optimised plugins as pretty much every computer or laptop I’ve owned has hated running them, I already thought most of what they were offering was too expensive with the only saving grace be occasional free stuff but this really is the icing on the cake, what an ass-backwards company.

  22. I stopped using WAVES a long time ago. You can find tons of alternatives on Softube, IK multimedia and Plugin Alliance.

  23. They have some great plugins, but these prices are too high. Also they are a nightmare with their various paid updates and copy protection system. I must say though their 30 dollar Wurlitzer piano is the best sounding Wurly I have ever found in a plugin.

  24. WAIT they cannot make what users run suddenly unavailable right?
    I checked my DAW quickly and all still works..
    So what’s the fuss? What you bought, you own, can keep on using forever..

    Or am I missing something?

    • Michal Ochedowski


      “Forever” is a bit of a stretch I would say. You own a certain version of particular Waves plugin. Once you change your OS or upgrade your computer, some of these versions may need to be upgraded in order to work in your newer system.

      • This sounds like a bad rumour, but some people online are claiming that if they already own licences, then go the subscription route… they loose what licences they already own.
        It sounds too bad to be true and imo would be illegal to do that anyway.
        One other thing i don’t like about this new subscription though, is having to be online all the time. For me, that is a deal breaker on it’s own.
        Otherwise going through another online computer, inserting a usb, and migrating back to the offline computer with the sub.

  25. Waves knew that people would have a negative response, it’s normal behavior from the human being. We don’t like changes. In neuromarketing they know its just about time to people get used to this news. In another hand, the company is segmenting its customer niche. Probably they are not interest in the mass (beginners, bedroom producers, etc.), they just want to look to the professional segment who don’t have any problem to pay. Waves will be synonymous of status, like Apple. It’s an aspirational concept. That move, would attract a piece of the mass previously mentioned.

  26. It’s not for me. I appreciate that you don’t really “own” any plugin anyway…just the license but a licence that expires long after we are dead is as good as “owning. Having the option to at least buy a plugin outright is surely better for the consumer. It works for SSL who have also have a subscription model. It’s about choice. Kilohearts have a nicer system whereby at the end of the years subscription they give you back money to purchase plugins outright.
    I like subscription models for things like Sample Packs, Mastering services etc… In 10 years time you still have the samples you downloaded after you cancelled.
    Opening an old project that has waves plugins is going to be a headache. Nah…I’m good without Waves.

  27. Jörgen Barkefors


    Everybody in all possible areas are trying this now. I imagine we´ll see quite a few people stuck in a whole bunch of different subscription plans resulting in economical crisis for them. If companies like waves had any decency at all, at least they would offer freedom of choice, Like for instance Plugin alliance. On my part its waves of good bye. There are far better and cheaper ways

  28. I don’t know if you guys checked your Waves Central already, but any plugin that isn’t the latest V14 is now disabled, meaning not only can’t you update them, you can’t even install them period. Like if you need to change computers, your hard drive dies, OS gets infected or you accidently remove or corrupt a plugin, that plugin is gone.

    This was a total business suicide, even if they revert back and keep offering individual plugins next to the subscription plan, I bet they’ve lost a good 80% of their customers for good.

      • So I have to download a separate installer for each version of plugins??? Like if I have V11, V12, V13 and V14 plugins, I need to download 4 different plugin management installers??? Holy shit this company is bad, no thanks I’m done with everything Waves.

  29. I’m curious, I have little knowledge of Waves’ output. I have a friend who used to love R-Bass a lot, that’s it.

    If you’re a Waves user, what are the plugins you actually use and can’t see yourself not using?
    What are the closest alternatives you would consider? What are the features lacking?

  30. I really hope this will backfire for Waves. Except Avid with Protools, who maybe could afford to do so, every single other vendor that was subscription only later added also sale of perpetual licenses. And nobody (except the mentioned Avid) in the music business has tried the same.
    I wish only the worst for Waves.

    The biggest joke is that Waves claims they did that as people were complaining about the WUP. However this is much worse than WUP. With WUP at least you could choose to only upgrade when you needed, i.e. something stopped working, and only the plugins that you actually use. With this new model you ALWAYS pay, and if you have one of the plugins that are only available in the expensive version then you just lost completely.

  31. I agree with this article, They have shot themselves in the foot. As a long time Waves user i could overlook the upgrade plan greed with the flow of freebies, on black friday/cyber monday in particular. But this is a total betrayal to existing customers like myself…..a nice gesture would have been to allow all existing perpetual license holders to update there collection to V14 free of charge ( A small gesture as nothing really changed within the plugins between v7 and 14 other than resizable windows!) at least then we would be on the latest version before being forced onto a subscription if we so choose.

    I can see the subscription model being fine for a producer starting out who has no premium 3rd party plugins, but useless to those of us that own a large collection already.

    I still don’t quite understand why they can’t sell to those of us who want to buy along side offering a subscription for anyone else who wants it. Other companies have done this.

    I am glad i own what i need from them already, but will be looking at other companies for new vst purchases from now on.

  32. Never used ’em and never will.

    Just how much better can they be than all the other options out there to make it viable for anyone to choose this trainwreck of a business model over practically any other model out there?

    Apart from an amazing selection of free offerings out there created by people who really care about the quality of what they produce, there are ‘subscribe to own’ models, which IMO, are a great idea; a bit like Hire-Purchase.

    Looks to me like they’re trying to set a new rip off standard that they hope others will jump aboard on, like pro tools, slate digital, dare I say, apple (Who make their stuff non-repairable/upgradable so their shite ends up in landfill sites when an OS ‘upgrade’ sometime in the future renders your system useless).

    OK…, Rant over and out:)

    • Funny stuff. Clearly they overestimated their products’ value in the minds and workflows of the masses.

      “Whoops!” 🤦🏻‍♂️😂

      One thing that had to be hard to swallow was hearing nearly all complaints not only express anger over the way they threw longtime perpetual users under the bus but also the general mediocrity of their aging product line, especially when compared to lots of other, smaller plugin developers. Deep pockets often cause disillusionment and delusions of grandeur. Hopefully this whole debacle will serve as a cautionary tale for other plugin developers who have been eyeing similar tactics. 🧐

      • Avatar photo

        William Frady


        The value proposition for getting a line of decades old plugins and a few additional items on a subscription is mind-boggling.

        I’m generally not a huge fan of SaaS, but I can understand if the value garnered for your monthly sub is worthwhile. I don’t subscribe to Slate or PA, but I can fully understand the decision for those doing so.

        I imagine they had some hastily put-together meeting to discuss how to stop bleeding paying customers in short order. Seems almost like a poorly planned social experiment to gauge the value of their software.

  33. Junior Anthony


    Tension is on them right now, they are backing down. To restore perpetual license soon. Customers sanction is very much viable against greedy software makers. If one need only 1 plugin he has to subscribe for 200 plugins to get 1, to have it. Thats crazy.

  34. Lol, I just received an email from Waves that perpetual licences will be back in a few days. I guess uproarrring and writing to them has been useful. Thanks to those who did! :)

  35. Seems Waves felt the heat, Going forward i think it is best to have plugins from numerous VST companies. So that you don’t depend on one company. For now my alternatives are:

    1. Plugin Alliance
    2. IK Multimedia
    3. Softube
    4. Native Instruments
    5. IZotope l

  36. Jiri aka Rivermint


    Important message:

    According to the CEO od Waves perpetual licences are making comeback, after very disturbed users questioning the issue.

  37. I just can’t get on board the subscription train, but the Waves’s WUP system is as annoying as they come. Honestly, I’d be much more interested in a rent-to-own scenario and I know I’m not alone.

  38. Important Update: Perpetual Licenses and Updates Will Be Back Alongside Subscriptions

    Did we make this happen 😂😂😂😻

  39. Konmario Romeo


    IT’S LIKE I SAW THIS COMING, things i always skip ‘When I See – iLock’, – and Now things i’ll always skip, ANY WAVES PLUGIN

  40. Kudos for them going back so fast, I’m happy for the costumers that wanted keep using Waves plugins but didn’t/couldn’t go to a subscription plan. That said, this “boundary testing” model that’s being used everywhere nowadays is very dangerous and we as customers should be aware of it.

    Streaming platforms keep upping the price and lowering features (how many devices at once, resolution, adding ads), only to see when there’s backlash and then they take one step back and now they are the good guy again, while getting what they wanted. Similar tactics are being used in gaming world, games are being released as unfinished as possible while charging full price with pay2win type of microtransaction included. Testing what they can get away with until gamers revolt and then reverting back a bit to look like a good consumer friendly company.

  41. Waves lost me as a bedroom client, perhaps with the companies making enough money.
    Subscriptions = have you grabbed by…

  42. I firmly believe that Waves planned this whole thing to promote their services in the full knowledge that there would be an outcry which would generate huge free publicity. There’s no way that they wouldn’t have known this would happen. Marketing folks know how to manipulate their customers.

    This to basically promote their subscription and make people that they were doing us all a huge favour by listening to the community. This also takes the shade off their ridiculous update plan which has been universally hated from the get go.

    Plugin Alliance give free updates, let you by perpetual licenses on sale and give you free plugins of your choice after a year long subscription.

    The joke is on us and all the YouTubers who promoted this debacle.

    • This. There was a precedent afterall: I suspect Bitiwg did the same with their paid add-on and Waves saw marketing potential in it

  43. Greed, pure & simple. As was their cynical “update plan”. I stopped buying their plugins years ago & would suggest everyone else does the same. There is so much choice these days.

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