A potential model for supporting iOS music app developers?

There's an interesting model used by desktop vst developer Seaweed audio which I think is a win-win situation for users and the developer. I recently purchased his Fathom vst synth on sale. I first downloaded a free mono version to see if it worked on my DAWs. It worked in one of the DAWs that I use but crashed on the other two, but since it was a good deal and I really liked the sound, I bought the paid version. Now this developer puts out regular monthly updates. Not only that but he provides great customer service. As I mentioned, I was unable to use the synth on two DAWs even though others with similar systems had no issues. I just mentioned them in the KVR forum. The developer pm'd me with questions and things to try, provided me with interim builds for me to test as possible fixes and worked over the holiday to get a fix out to me and a few others experiencing issues. Let's just say I was very impressed.

In his model that supports his continued development, he does not charge for fixes but rather upgrade updates that he puts out with new features, which he asks for a payment of $2.50. Even then he doesn't expect users to pay for every upgrade version. The suggested contribution is four upgrades per year for users who view it as their primary synth. He does not expect new users to pay for upgrades for a while. And it is voluntary as paid users get the updates free at a later date. I think this is a great model for developers who are like him, who give out regular features and provide great support.

For users like myself who do not like subscriptions I think it's a great model to support future development of a program. If only we had a similar option in iOS to support the music app developers in a similar way. Thoughts?

Comments

  • Not sure how this would work with Apple, I guess the updates would be IAP which would later be rolled into a free update for all or the old IAP could go free after a time. Eventually there would be quite a list of IAP.

    Also how many apps have significant feature updates (not bug fixes) 4 times a year? Seems to make more sense for the IAP to never go free.

    I like the mono demo idea, maybe would need to be crippled a bit more on IOS. Maybe have it timeout or something, mono could still be pretty useful otherwise.

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  • I would never pay for a subscription based software.

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  • edited July 2018

    @Dawdles said:

    @TrevorLlewellyn said:
    I would never pay for a subscription based software.

    +1. Rent to buy is fine. After a certain point there’s no more updates when you decide to bail. If things evolve in a way that appeals then you can jump back in at a later date. But anything else is ridiculous. If everyone subscribed and products continued to be relevant then you’d have people that had been using it for 15 years, people that had been using it for 10, for 5, for 1... and all continuously flowing cash simultaneously at a company for the same core product. Ridiculous. The ‘financial income vs value of updates’ ratio would be insane in favour of the company. Should be illegal because that’s the potential scenario if the model takes hold....

    Good example is photoshop, obviously this is a massive company with market share. They had issues with piracy so decided to go the subscription route. Of course many business use this software so the model worked... however this decision opened the door for apps like Procreate and with apple pencil technology a huge amount of artists ‘many pros’ started to use this app for 10 bucks. Obviously photoshop still are the standard but they have damaged their model and allowed future competition. Also new artists will start with apps like Procreate and just not bother with photoshop possibly. Now any company who is not as dominant as photoshop would defiantly risk major damage going the subscription route. People will just chose a different software even if it isn’t as good.

  • Using a bundle offer would be fair (app v1 and v2 bundle) . As long as we are talking about major new features not enhancements.
    As for bugs , I don’t think I would ever buy a v2 app for bug fixes. An app should be bug free, period.

    Like iMpc Pro to Pro2 as a bad example (left pro1 with bugs and introduced new to v2)

  • Adobe's Creative Cloud adresses a professional cutomer base.
    The subscription model is ideal because you can write off the amount spent immediately from your tax balance, while a purchase would be treated like an investment.
    (which is a total mismatch regarding software, as we all learned)

    Before CC they suffered heavily from pirated copies in regular business use, because the protection was barely existent. But that's also the reason why Photoshop became a defacto stadard - just like Word.

    No hobby designer needs Photoshop for painting or photo manipulation - any app will do.
    But when it comes to professional color management, PS is probably the most reliable contender of the pack. I remember a job where a few 10k previews of hires images were needed. All of the 'fast converters' messed up colors, so it ended as a batch job using Photoshop.

  • edited July 2018

    that is interesting, but I prefer the Jonatan Liljedahl, Igor Vasilev Plan.... make good apps, charge what they are worth, and I will be happy to pay!!!

  • @kobamoto said:
    that is interesting, but I prefer the Jonatan Liljedahl, Igor Vasilev Plan.... make good apps, charge what they are worth, and I will be happy to pay!!!

    Agreed

  • studioAB's suggestion sounds good, but that's basically what app updates with new IAPs do. Users who were only waiting for the app to work correctly will finally download the fixed version at no charge, and whoever wants the new features buys the IAP(s).
    This is perfectly implemented in Audio Evolution Mobile:
    The app is free, you can try out most IAPs for a short period and only buy what you want.

  • edited July 2018

    @rs2000 said:
    studioAB's suggestion sounds good, but that's basically what app updates with new IAPs do.

    yes, and success mainly depends on quality and a reasonably large customer base.
    It works well with some destop 'one man shows', too... like Sean Costello (Valhalla DSP) and Mike Scuffham (S-Gear), but these are extremely talented guys.

    General IOS price level is much lower, which makes it a true challenge as your main source of income. Don't forget that self-employed people have additional costs in assurance and precare for retirement (both often ignored when you're young...)

    Considering 50k (bucks or euro) per year a reasonable amount (pre tax), you'd have to sell 10k units at a $5 price tag.
    But: those sales don't happen as a constant stream of cash - there's a huge bump after release and then the curve decays quite rapidly.
    Unless your app is a real essential production tool, there's practically no hope the app will generate any significant demand in the years following.

    So the developer is FORCED to focus on new stuff - he/she cannot live from supporting an already paid product.
    That's the main reason (imho) we see so few well designed and complete solutions, but a lot of half baken patchwork.

  • @Telefunky said:

    @rs2000 said:
    studioAB's suggestion sounds good, but that's basically what app updates with new IAPs do.

    yes, and success mainly depends on quality and a reasonably large customer base.
    It works well with some destop 'one man shows', too... like Sean Costello (Valhalla DSP) and Mike Scuffham (S-Gear), but these are extremely talented guys.

    General IOS price level is much lower, which makes it a true challenge as your main source of income. Don't forget that self-employed people have additional costs in assurance and precare for retirement (both often ignored when you're young...)

    Considering 50k (bucks or euro) per year a reasonable amount (pre tax), you'd have to sell 10k units at a $5 price tag.
    But: those sales don't happen as a constant stream of cash - there's a huge bump after release and then the curve decays quite rapidly.
    Unless your app is a real essential production tool, there's practically no hope the app will generate any significant demand in the years following.

    So the developer is FORCED to focus on new stuff - he/she cannot live from supporting an already paid product.
    That's the main reason (imho) we see so few well designed and complete solutions, but a lot of half baken patchwork.

    Unfortunately there is little money in music currently. You never know things could change.

  • market vs. skills/talent vs. cost that can be applied to anything though. You can't force a developer to do anything, including making an app that is really useful.. instead of focusing on new stuff they should focus on useful stuff unless they are not in it for the purpose of making a living, then they can just focus on 'getting the masses who don't make music involved with making music'... that's the reason given for app development that I've seen most often. It happens over and over again

  • I confess being a coward myself in staying away from developing 'music applications'
    (on both desktop and tablet)
    On the other hand we may mistake the given price model as the only solution without ever trying the opposite of high priced quality offers.
    (there are some expensive apps beyond the $100 tag, some for pure lifestyle branded stuff, but some cover 'serious' use)
    The only thing that's granted is that companies like Moog WILL always sell a ton... for their brand's reputation and charisma.

  • I think the real solution lies within taming our collective app addictions and putting our money where the quality is. It's pretty easy to tell the devs that command respect with their integrity from the ones that don't and unfortunately it's not something that can just be judged by talent as there are some extremely talented devs that haven't implemented audio export for apps when they know they should have, or sample import, or proper midi in and out, even panning etc... but as soon as an app drops we scoop them up like flapjacks... It's really us app consumers that have become the engine for positive or negative changes and realities in the iOS music market. Putting the money in the pockets of the right devs would encourage more devs to make more useful apps.... it's not easy, I'm super guilty of throwing all kinds of cash in directions that I shouldn't have, trying to curb that these days.

  • edited July 2018

    I would gladly pay to crowd-fund an app or even an update to an app I own and use. I would pay to crowd-fund a new app from a known developer. I have no clue of the tax implications of this sort of set up for a developer, but it seems like a win. Has anyone tried this with any success?

  • My opinion, the devs should charge what they want one time, and we get what it is....
    Updates to make the app workflow better can also be charged for, but not fixes and updates to keep it working as iOS changes...
    I think supporting devs thru purchases and promotion is a great thing as well as a patreon support system...

    A great example (and there are many here) of a dev to support is the creator of space craft... He's listened to all our feedback to make spacecraft even doper than it's init release, but he didn't have too...
    He created the app to be what he wanted and it is great as is.... But end users have ideas to make it work in different ways and I feel like he's gone out of his way to build on his creation, but hasn't increased the price yet or made extra money on the copies already sold..
    I would happily donate a few bucks for the efforts and continued support, but wouldn't want it to be a subscription,

    subscriptions kill the fun imo cuz I may or may not use the app enough to make it worth a monthly fee, but if a new version is released I may decide to spend money on that if I feel it's going to be a part of my workflow.

  • edited July 2018

    @kinkujin said:
    I would gladly pay to crowd-fund an app or even an update to an app I own and use. I would pay to crowd-fund a new app from a known developer. I have no clue of the tax implications of this sort of set up for a developer, but it seems like a win. Has anyone tried this with any success?

    Syntorial was crowd-funded and a success with just $8600 funds (check it out on Wikipedia). Dev is coming up with Primer AU synth after which Syntorial will not have IAA and Background Audio mode by the end of this year. Also coming up with a few more educational apps.

  • Ah cool. Syntorial is great! Winding my way through it s-l-o-w-l-y.

  • edited July 2018

    @Dawdles said:
    If a dev isn’t happy with income from an app after doing more work on it then IAP for updates is the best solution imho. Subscriptions suck. Why should I pay indefinitely for a bunch of updates that might not even apply to my setup or workflow or feel significant enough for me to want to pay for? You don’t pay continuously for someone’s album that you bought just because they’re making more records that other people want to listen to. Same thing... Everything has a value. If an update or new feature is good enough, and relevant for me, charge IAP for it and I’ll buy it.

    This applies to V2, V3 etc too. People shouldn’t have to buy the whole app again at full price. That’s the job of ‘new’ customers. It doesn’t work like this on other platforms. Nearly always ‘upgrade’ discounts. Of course if it’s a total re-design then fair enough. But pretty lame otherwise..You’re paying twice for a big chunk of the R&D. This happens on hardware sometimes but that’s fair enough when they have costs for staff, premises, machinery, materials etc. With indie software on the App Store r&d is basically all there is to consider

    Spot on. I mentioned this exactly a couple of times on this forum. If an app has high quality with most features out of the box, it will gain a choke-hold on the market, become a de facto standard and sells itself forever. All the dev has to do is focus on introducing newer features and IAPs that add value which would monetize even more. A great example is Clash of Clans (though not a music app):

    https://www.google.com/search?q=clash+of+clans+revenue

    Good = one time purchase of app with subsequent IAPs
    Bad = pay for subsequent updates (v2, v3, etc)
    Ugly = subscriptions

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  • @kinkujin said:
    Ah cool. Syntorial is great! Winding my way through it s-l-o-w-l-y.

    Currently, I don't use Syntorial a lot because of its Background Audio mode hardcoded ON which drains my battery (due to the Juce framework it was written on that does not facilitate to turn it on/off at runtime as per the dev). Waiting for it to be removed by the end of the year.

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