It looks like I may have chosen the right time to step away from Maschine. Credible-ish rumors and Glassdoor posts are saying that Native Instruments has been gradually letting people go for a few months and just a couple of days ago, laid off 100 people (about 50%) from its Berlin office, including the “product owners” of Maschine and Traktor and “almost all hardware teams.” Former employees wrote about management incompetence and lack of direction. Behringer has apparently offered to hire some people.

There’s also a claim that a new standalone Maschine unit was killed off one day before it was scheduled to go into production. That sounds a bit less credible to me, but who knows?

From the outside looking in, it’s felt like NI lost some of their previous vitality, in recent years. To some extent I thought that was just my perspective changing, but there’s more to it than that. Massive X was released in a not-quite-finished state and was a letdown to many people, Maschine Mikro mk3 has some weird omissions in features, and overall their focus has seemed… just not on.

There’s no official confirmation or denial of anything, but it does sound like there’s still a team working on Maschine. For all anyone outside of NI knows it’s a skeleton crew at this point though? And it’s not as if the pace of updates was rapid or the direction was in things that people were asking for.

Update: here’s some official word.

Their emphasis on “consuming and accessing creative goods and services” makes me think their primary goal is going to be selling loops and samples, and the means to “consume” them (Traktor, Maschine, Kontakt etc.). A lot of people think it could be a subscription service. Whatever. It signals to me they don’t want to be instrument builders anymore. My method of making music isn’t to “consume and access” other peoples’ sounds.

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