Ableton Live is one of the most popular digital audio workstations (DAWs) used by music producers, DJs, and artists around the world.
Its intuitive interface and workflow have made it a favorite for music creation and live performance.
However, Ableton’s licensing policy only allows users to install Live on one computer at a time without purchasing additional licenses.
This often leaves users wondering – can I install Ableton Live on multiple computers?
Ableton Live’s Licensing Policy
Ableton is very clear about its licensing terms. Here are the key points regarding installing Live on multiple machines:
- A single Live license allows installation on only one computer at a time.
- To use Live on multiple computers, you need separate licenses for each one.
- A single Live license can be deactivated and then activated on another computer. But it can only be active on one computer at a time.
- Using the same Live license on multiple computers simultaneously violates the End User License Agreement (EULA).
So in short, no, you cannot install and use the same Ableton Live license on more than one computer at once. The only legitimate way is to purchase additional licenses for each computer you want to run Live on.
Why Limit to One Computer?
Ableton’s “one computer at a time” policy is not unique. Many other paid DAWs and software applications have similar licensing terms. But why do companies do this? There are a few key reasons:
Prevent Simultaneous Use
The main goal is to prevent a single license being used on multiple computers simultaneously. This ensures each user has purchased a separate license and the developer gets paid for each instance of the software being used.
Avoid License Sharing
Limiting to one computer prevents easily sharing/transferring a single license between multiple people. This forces users to properly buy licenses and not exploit a loophole.
Simple Licensing Model
A one computer policy creates a simple universal licensing model. Users always know what they are getting – use on a single machine. More flexible multi-computer licenses can get complex.
For companies, limiting licenses ultimately maximizes sales potential. Users have to purchase multiple licenses if they want the software on more than one device.
So in Ableton’s case, the one computer policy clearly pushes users to buy additional Live 10 licenses if they want multi-computer access.
Options for Using Live on Multiple Computers
Given the licensing restrictions, what are your options if you want to use Live on more than one computer? Here are some possibilities:
Purchase Additional Licenses
The official solution is to simply purchase additional Live licenses for each computer you need it on. While expensive, this fully complies with the EULA and gives you complete flexible access.
Transfer Single License Between Computers
You can transfer (deactivate/activate) a single Live license between different computers. The process is seamless and takes just a few clicks. This allows using Live on multiple computers, just not at the same time.
Use Live Intro Version
The free Live Intro version included with many MIDI controllers can be installed on unlimited computers. As it is a stripped down version of Live, it could work as a secondary install on another device.
Splice offers a rent-to-own payment plan for Ableton Live 10 Suite. This provides a lower cost way to get licenses for multiple computers vs buying upfront.
There have been calls for Ableton to offer a subscription model that removes license limitations. But so far, they have not embraced this approach.
Common Multi-Computer Use Cases
There are many scenarios where producers and musicians could benefit from having Live installed on more than one device. Here are some examples:
- Studio desktop + Laptop – Main studio machine + portable laptop for travel.
- Work computer + Home computer – Live at office + separate install for home music production.
- Multiple home studios – Producing on both a desktop and laptop when moving between home studios.
- Shared studio – Installing Live on multiple computers in a shared studio space.
- Live performance rig – Having Live on both a main studio computer and a separate live performance machine.
So in many cases, there are legitimate reasons users would want Live access across more than just their main music computer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I install Live on two computers but only use one at a time?
No. The Ableton license terms explicitly forbid installing Live on multiple computers, even if you are not using them simultaneously.
What exactly constitutes “one computer”?
Ableton considers a computer to mean a single physical device, regardless of how many user accounts or operating systems it may have. So one computer license cannot be shared across a dual-boot or multi-user system.
Can I virtualize Live and run multiple instances?
No, you cannot run multiple instances of Live using virtual machines on the same host computer and single license. Each VM counts as a separate computer for licensing purposes.
Is it legal to share/borrow a friend’s Live license?
No. The Live EULA states each user must properly buy and register their own license. Sharing or borrowing someone else’s is prohibited.
What if my computer dies and I need to replace it?
Ableton allows users to deactivate a lost/broken computer online. You can then activate your existing Live license on a replacement computer.
Can I install Live on multiple computers just for testing?
Technically no – Ableton does not make any exemption for “testing”. You need a separate license for each computer Live is installed on regardless of the usage.
Pros and Cons of Multiple Installs
There are both advantages and disadvantages to having Live installed on multiple computers. Here is a quick comparison:
- Convenience – Seamless workflow across multiple devices.
- Portability – Move projects and access tools easily without transferring files.
- Backup – Redundancy in case one computer fails.
- Creative freedom – Produce music anywhere inspiration strikes.
- Cost – Buying multiple licenses is expensive.
- License management – Deactivating and transferring licenses can be a hassle.
- Plugin incompatibility – Plugins may need to be re-purchased for different OS/formats.
- Stability risks – Multiple installs increase risks of software issues.
So in summary, while multiple installs can be beneficial in some cases, the costs and compatibility challenges are key considerations.
Ableton only permits its Live software to be installed on one computer at a time with each license purchased. While restrictive compared to more flexible multi-computer licenses, Ableton believes this model maximizes sales and discourages license abuse. For users wanting Live access across multiple devices, options include buying additional licenses, transferring a single license between computers, using the free Live Intro version, or looking into rent-to-own payment solutions like Splice. Ultimately, the right approach depends on budget, specific usage needs, and convenience. But all users should be aware of Ableton’s official licensing policy when considering multi-computer installation.