Activation Manager is a SCAM!

We all need to boycott upgrades, excite any social media influencer, every Youtuber, and anyone we can to spread the word that the dongle MUST be reinstated as an option for licensing.

For the 6th or 7th time this year, I’m unable to use my own copies of the software I bought for my business because activation manager isn’t working again. I NEVER experienced a single issue with eLicenser. I always had access to my licenses. The worst I ever experienced was having to update it every once in awhile, which is an inherent flaw in all software. Even so, I updated it and continued about my work. I never had a dongle need an update when the PCs remained offline, so the need for a connection to update wasn’t a problem anyway.

Aside from issues like today, where I have to close my business and inform clients that their projects are going to be delayed, there is an even greater issue you should DEFINITELY be concerned about…

With the dongle, you have your software and your license in a self-contained system and nothing can ever take that from you. You can box the computer and your dongle, put them in storage, and archeologists can open that storage unit 1,000yrs from now and open your sessions (assuming the computer survives). With Activation Manager YOU DON’T ACTUALLY OWN poopies! You are eternally reliant on Yamaha/Steinberg continuing to allow you access to the DAW you paid $1,000 for (plus the sum of all your upgrades). If Apple (or whoever) decides to buy Yamaha and move us all to Logic or just shut Steinberg down and strip it for parts (which is inevitable, considering the direction the market has been moving for the past 20+ years), we will simply lose all access to our work and, with it, every project you have stored!

I understand that some people need the USB port because they’re just bedroom studio guys/ladies working on a laptop. That’s fine. That’s why I said it must be an OPTION. Even if you’re using activation manager and satisfied at the moment, having the option to move your license to the dongle would allow you to save your license in the event you catch wind of a catastrophic issue before it happens.

Allowing Steinberg (and many of their competitors) to continue preventing us from actually owning our perpetual licenses gives these software companies too much power over us. It seems safe to assume all of us who paid for our $1,000 DAWs have done so because what we use it for is extremely important to us for one reason or another. We’re also pretty much all artistic people and I have yet to meet an artist who’s happy to giveaway power over our art to a corporation.

Corporations are swallowing each other up everyday, merging into larger conglomerates. When they do so, cutting costs becomes the sole focus and quality of the products suffers more and more. When there’s nothing left to cut, they cut away components of those companies and absorb only what makes the most money. This is because a corporation has to continually report profit growth, despite the fact that there’s always a maximum point of growth (which most of these companies are already at or near… like Steinberg). They essentially have to feed a beast who grows hungrier every time they feed it. Its simply not sustainable.

So, as I said, this isn’t a far-fetched scenario where these licenses could maybe someday be a problem 100yrs from now, but an INEVITABLE threat that absolutely will become a threat to us and Activation Manager leaves us at the will of a company who’s market-share is rapidly declining behind inferior DAWs. Yes, Nuendo and even Cubase Pro are definitely better than Fruity Loops, Logic, the cheap version of Pro Tools (HDX too), yet these companies are taking more and more of the market away from Steinberg anyway. Steinberg can’t change this path by making a better product because they already do that.

We MUST protect our access to our software to preserve our work. That can’t be left to a corporation; especially not in this market.

1 Like

It is likely a PICNIC error

Hell, no. You can speak for yourself only.



I have a Mac Studio and just picked up a new M3 Macbook a few weeks ago. The SAM has worked fine on both machines without issue and I’m doing a great deal of Post work.

I had more issues with that damn eLicenser - having to ‘re-seat’ it several times a week because it wasn’t always recognized (no matter what USB port I used). Since going to the SAM, I’ve had zero issues.


1 Like

It’s not a ‘scam’, it’s a reasonable solution to the many requests over the years to get rid of the dongle, as well as disentangling Steinberg from aging EOL technology.
SAM works as advertised here and I’m not interested in going backwards.


I agree with KT66, it’s not a “scam”.

Let’s reserve words like that for actual scams.


No kidding. It’s a pretty normal solution these days for licensing. We can argue if it is the best way to do it, but lots of companies are doing the “software that does download and activation” thing. Waves, NI, Toontrack, Plugin Alliance, IK, just to name a few from the audio world. It’s not uncommon outside audio either. That’s basically what Steam and the others are in the games world. It’s just how many companies like to do licensing these days.

Also, as activation managers go, it isn’t a bad one. Easy to use, once something is activated you don’t need to re-up it unless something happens, and if you do get a dead license because of an error or hardware failure, you just go to the website and remove it.

I personally don’t have a strong preference either way, I use only my desktop meaning dongles aren’t a problem, and I have an iLok for other software so I have to deal with one, but the activation manager has been no more difficult than the eLicenser was. I get the software, install it, activate, and then don’t think about it, it just works when I launch it.

I really can’t ask it to do much more.

@TiKkO8803 What about Offline activation? This is what I would try if I were in your predicament.

I don’t think you guys are following my main point here…
I don’t think SAM needs to be scrapped completely. It has its uses. However, the freedom to move your license to the dongle and back to SAM as you please is something we MUST have in order to have any control/ownership at all.

We are all 100% dependent on Steinberg now. Yes, that’s very common now. I can’t argue against that fact. YouTube marketing has built a home-recording bubble that’s gotten Wall Street excited (especially during the pandemic lockdowns) and they’ve been buying up every company that has something they can sell to amateurs and consolidating them under a handful of umbrellas. They’ve realized that controlling the licenses is best way to control US, and switched licensing systems across the board to serve their own purpose. That’s a BAD thing, not a “get with the times” thing.

I’m having trouble fathoming how creative people have such a hard time with foresight right now. Steinberg has been fairly safe in their own little corner of the industry because they’re owned by a powerhouse corporation already. That would’ve meant something 20, even 10, years ago. Today, however, Yamaha’s $9.5Billion dollars is NOTHING. There are plenty of INDIVIDUALS with the money to buy Yamaha. Apple is worth $3TRILLION (roughly the same as the entire UK GDP). Amazon is also worth TRILLIONS. Yamaha’s future is not entirely secure. As corporations continue to grow rapidly (Apple grew by nearly 50% from $2Trillion just a few years ago) and consolidate, Yamaha will soon be bought up. When that happens, every product from all of their subsidiaries will be evaluated and the ones that don’t make enough profit will be discontinued. Those that remain will undergo excessive cost-cutting with little to no regard for quality. You don’t have to worry about making quality products when all other options lead back to the same few parent companies. All they have to worry about is making sure every quarterly report shows profit growth to the shareholders so that the execs at the top get to keep their jobs and bonuses.

I can’t predict whether the bubble will burst on music software/hardware or Yamaha will be bought up and gutted first, but we won’t be able to do a damn thing when it happens. Nuendo’s market is mostly made up of a small niche of professionals who pick the best tool for the job over marketing and trends. We’re not a big enough market to save the DAW central to our work. So, we will lose Nuendo soon enough. As soon as Yamaha/Steinberg gets a whiff of Wall Street looking to buy up their shares, they’ll end Nuendo and we won’t be able to continue using our “perpetual” licenses for very long.

If Steinberg: Decides to permanently layoff the Nuendo team to cut costs and preserve Cubase, Goes bankrupt, Is sold by Yamaha to some Wall Street group that’s interested only in its value as an asset, or any other of the million things that are happening everyday in the business world; we will will be screwed because we have no way to possess our own key to our DAWs.

If you don’t see why we need the option to hold our own keys, you haven’t been paying attention to what has been going on in the industry that makes our tools for the last decade.

Other than my own belief that the earth will someday spin off into the sun (which will really screw up everyone’s day), none of your points on either of your posts resonate with me.

I own an elicenser, but I categorically reject any/all points you’ve made for keeping it alive.

Bummer about your 7 lockouts.

1 Like

Nah, that doesn’t really solve anything in the long run. Problem is that the dongle still needs drivers to work, and also may need new hardware from time to time. So, if the catastrophe you predict comes to pass, well you are still screwed in the long run. The company that buys it out just stops supporting the dongle. They don’t update the drivers, they don’t sell any more of them. Eventually either Windows/MacOS get to a point where the old drivers don’t work or your dongle dies and then you are again without a license.

The only solution that truly has an infinite timeline is one where there is no activation/dongle, where you just get the software. I like that one, but I understand why most companies don’t do it because piracy is a thing for sure.

That aside, having a forever license for old software is only so useful. It eventually doesn’t work well on new systems, and then eventually doesn’t work at all. You end up having to load it up in a virtual machine, which has issues of its own. You have to move on at some point. Go and try to fire up Cubase for Windows 3.0 on your computer, it flat out won’t work. You’d need to get a VM running Windows 3.11 to make it work well, and then you’d suddenly remember just how much both OSes and DAWs sucked back then.

While I completely agree that I don’t want my licenses arbitrarily taken away, I don’t think a dongle is the magic prevention against that you think it is and even if I do have a license forever, I’ll still move if Nuendo gets killed off.

That’s actually why I’m here: I was a Cakewalk user for a long time. Then Gibson suddenly killed off Cakewalk. The software still worked, and it continues to work, I can install the final version of Sonar Platinum and use it just fine on my current system. However, I didn’t want to be stuck on a platform that wasn’t getting any development, so I went shopping, tried Cubase, loved it, and decided to switch since Steinberg offered a nice crossgrade deal for all the Cakewalk users. Even once Bandlab bought it and brought it back, I stayed here because I like it better.

Same deal if Steinberg gets killed off some day. I’ll start looking for a new DAW to use, I won’t just hang on to Nuendo until it is an outdated husk, even if it still works.

1 Like

The Earth isnt spinning off into the son everyday. The situations I mentioned are only hypothetical in the sense they haven’t happened to Steinberg yet. They’re happening every single day to a LOT of other companies.
Steinberg’s marketshare among DAWs has already fallen behind Logic (way behind Logic) and even Audacity. I don’t even know of anyone who had Audacity. Outside of this forum and groups centered around Cubase, I don’t know many who use Steinberg DAWs anymore either though :man_shrugging:.

When we’re sent remote work, clients tell me they recorded in: #1 Logic, #2 Fruity Loops, #3 Pro Tools, #4 Abelton, #5 StudioOne, #6 Reaper, #7 Cakewalk, #8 Cubase, #9 Reason, #10 Luna.
Cakewalk is projected to skyrocket with their recent changes, and Luna will do the same after they fix all its Windows Beta bugs, due to the popularity of Apollo Twins and Volts among amateurs. Apple’s Mac product placement on YouTube has already pushed them to the top and they’ll continue to get bigger and bigger. SSL has a Wall Street parent company now that’s been absorbing audio software companies under SSL. MixBus10 was a learning experience, but the SSL name on MixBus is going to become a major threat when the 4000G version is released in another year or so with the ability to add a bed to Atmos projects.
Cubase used to hold thar #1 spot. They’re ranked #4 in global marketshare now and that share is going to continue to rapidly decline as all these competitors with bigger corporations behind them grow.

The OPTION is what Im pleading for. The OPTION would allow you to use SAM. Then, in the event you see Apple or whoever working on absorbing Steinberg and realize they’re just gonna take the employees and any patents/contracts they want and dissolve the company, or whatever the issue may be, you’d have the OPTION to transfer your licenses to the dongle and use your software for as long as you choose. If not, you risk losing access to every session you cared enough about to save.

There’s zero chance nobody at Steinberg has thought of that. So the fact that Steinberg is eliminating eLicenser instead of making it an OPTION shows that they’re already cutting back wherever possible.

Consider this:
If you bought your house, but the realtor wont give you the key and you have to ask the realtor to open the door for you every time, there’s no other possible way in, and you cant change the lock; how secure is your ownership of that house?
If the realtor doesn’t unlock your door, whether its because theyre unavailable, choose not to, died, or simply decide your house isnt yours anymore-- Its not your house to begin with and you can lose it AND acces to everything in it at any time.

All Im saying is I want the OPTION to grab my key whenever I choose.

A simple solution similar to what iLok does with the ability to transfer between iLok Cloud and the physical iLok would offer the convenience some find with SAM and the comfort of being able to secure the continued use of the only software that can open our saved sessions.

As it stands, Steinberg can decide it would be cheaper to delete my account than to let this discussion continue and my studio would lose access forever to our thousands of dollars in software and the ability to open our clients past and current projects.
In fact, it wouldn’t be the first time this year a software company that controlled my licenses did that. My Session Recall account, along with all of the product licenses I bought (1 for every piece of hardware in the studio), was deleted because their software hadn’t worked in months and I complained about them giving the run around instead of a solution.

So, if you don’t see me here for awhile, you know what happened.
Hopefully that will discourage them from taking any action :man_shrugging:.


So no difference to the USB Stick. If it breaks you are done, the license is gone.

So you honestly believe the old eLicenser is different? Every licensing system is to control what the user can access.

To me it seems you are shooting completely over the top. You should

I clearly don’t want the eLicenser back, as soon as the last instrument has been upgraded I will happily pack it away.

Sorry, but what are you smoking? Because you express your opinion (in endless repeating posts) you believe your account and licenses are deleted?

Really, start thinking about what you are writing here and in what direction you are drifting away.

Software is a service, and always has been. Even in the dongle days.

I sold a computer years ago with a mixer and some other hardware. I let the kid have all the software with it so that he could have his own studio. I taught him to treat it no differently than if everything were hardware because I wasn’t gonna let him have my logins because I wasn’t sure if he’d be able to use my cards associated with the accounts or how any of that worked at the time, but if he kept the computer like a hardware recorder using it as-is instead of trying to add more unnecesary plugins, the computer would never be too old to continue doing what it was doing then (unless he breaks it or whatever).

Its been quite some years now, and that old PC with Waves, whatever other plugins were big at the time, and Nuendo 3 or 4 and some firewire hardware is still tracking his band and facilitating whatever he needs to do. It still sounds as good as it would if he were on a brand new PC with all the latest hardware and software. Some of those software companies no longer exist and I’m kind of bummed that I can’t use them anymore, but he uses them. BlueTubes/Nomad Factory, Propellerhead ReBirth, ReWiring the other DAWs into Nuendo. All possible because his licenses are secure on drives and dongles on a PC that has no clue what year it is or anything other than record, mix, export. If the world came to an end and he found a generator, solar panels, or whatever; it wouldn’t stop him from making new music.
You and I, on the other hand, can’t do anything without Steinberg and a decent internet connection.
The option to save our own licenses would allow us the option to have that independence.

Wrong, as soon as the license is activated you don’t need the internet anymore. There is even a support document that explains in detail how to create offline activations.

Just to repeat myself, I do NOT want the old eLicenser stuff to stay.

No need to create another endless answer with off topic explanations, for me it is end of discussion.

Bring back serial numbers!


This is the thing we should focus on. Why do you have this problem?
As far as I understand the new Steinberg License System works like this:
Steinberg runs a server on the internet, to which computers from customers connect after an install of Nuendo through the Activation Manager. The server sends a piece of code and the AM then authorizes the computer system to run the software. Afterwards that computer system can run Nuendo until the end of time without any further contact to the Steinberg server. However, if you change certain parts of the hardware, the license will turn invalid and needs to be renewed again.

If, after a successful installation and activation of Nuendo and the computer hardware not being altered, you start Nuendo it only makes contact with the Activation Manager that is installed on the machine. This AM runs a little server like software on your machine and Nuendo contacts that software every now and then during its usage to confirm the license validity. But that is all happening locally on your machine.
Anytime you get a message that a Nuendo license could not be found a restart of the computer should fix this issue, so that you don’t loose too much time for your clients.
Obviously some troubleshooting with Steinberg support is advisable in order to avoid the trouble for the future.

I’m not always happy with the way Dolby does business. But the fact that you can, for example, activate their encoders (DME or DEE) by simply entering a licence code is a great thing.

But I can also live with Steinberg’s licensing system. It would probably be different if there was an “online obligation” that forced me to go online every time I started the program so that the licence server could be queried in the background. In this case I would have a problem because our computers in the studio do not have direct access to the Internet for security reasons.