[Ardour-Dev] Licensing and enforced payments

Mike Mazarick mazarick at bellsouth.net
Sat Jan 24 12:07:28 PST 2009

What happened to the list that used to provide me with a rare, occasional nugget of useful information about Ardour?!?!

This discussion about funding is really useful, obviously needed, and provides a lot of information and insight into what people value, what they are experienced with, and what they are thinking about.

Here are some things I've seen that I like:
1.   People seem to be giving some very serious thought and putting out a lot of information about alternatives towards making some money for Ardour
2.   There have been a wide variety of options that have been put out for consideration, from building hardware to putting out a CD to selling subscriptions to (some other option goes here).
3.   The people on the subscription list are very attuned to their principles of action and belief.  It should be remembered that a lot of the internal debate will be around 'religious issues' that are not easily compromised.   To use the religion analogy, some people will feel that 'whole body immersion on being baptized from a free choice' is very important, while others will believe that 'following the 10 Commandments' is the most important, and others believe that 'prevention of illicit sex' is the most important thing.  In general, the principles held by members of the group are a very good thing and have produced some concrete actions already like putting a 'Donate' (Participate, or whatever) button on a completely different website.   
4.  The community that cares about Ardour and Paul Davis is small but very intense.   It is better to have 20 people who feel passionately about something than 20,000 people who are only marginally interested.

Here are some things that I've seen that I don't like:
1.   I am a little concerned about the public attacks on people.   Some of the messages I've seen would be more effective and best expressed via private email rather than a broadcast to the list.   This tells me that there is a lack of sophistication on knowing what (and how much) medium to put into the massage.  There are apparently very few "ladies" in the mix.  Women can often provide the best way to dress, the best way to look, and how to best express yourself, etc. so this faux pas can be overlooked as a lack of oversight.   The community is very small, and you need each other more than you know.   It is worth it to you not to alienate anyone who is "fighting on your side".

Here are some concerns I have:

1.   The Ardour development community may be much stronger if it had additional strong/experienced developers in the mix.   Everybody wants a strong leader, but what happens when the leader dies or goes away?   A really well run and organized community would survive this.  You may want to have at least two recognized and recognizable people in the community - a public spokesperson who is listening to what the community wants and a chief developer.   Paul is trying to fulfill two roles rather than just one.  Building the community is as important as building the application.   If developers cannot be found, they must be trained.  This appears to be the direction things are headed, but a division of responsibility may make this easier to achieve.   A good spokesperson should not also be doing the development (there's just not enough time and energy and too much danger of 'inbred' thoughts/designs if one ).
2.   I have personally found that making money and doing what motivates you may not always go hand in hand.  Ardour seems to be more similar to a highly skilled jazz musician than to a pianist at a restaurant or a wedding 'cover' band.   It may be a work of art that just doesn't make that much money.  It may become obvious that some other action completely outside of Ardour may be the thing that generates money.   Frank Zappa toured for many years with a very large orchestra and lost money the whole time.   He eventually went on a college campus speaking tour and was able to charge the same amount of money for a speaking engagement as he did for his whole orchestra, and was able to keep all the money for himself and not set up any equipment.  (I do not know if he found speaking engagements to be intellectually rewarding, but it was obviously financially rewarding). 
3.   It appears that Linux audio in general is going thru a rough period.   Some of the newer equipment that looks like it would greatly advance Linux audio doesn't appear to have a linux driver (an example is the m-audio profire 2626) or even have a driver coming.  The adoption rate is not growing rapidly among musicians, in spite of the $0 price.  I don't recall any mention about this underlying difficulty in any marketing plan for Ardour or similar solutions.  Some discussion of this would be healthy in evaluating marketing opportunities.   In order to do a good job evaluating different opportunities, the "passion" that is already in place needs to be suspended so the evaluation can be objective and the best option selected.   Part of this 'supension of passion' should be admitting faults and problems that are in Ardour/linux that are not in the other apps/os's. 

Here are some opportunities I see:

1.   It has become obvious to many on the list that competing head to head in the exact same market doing things the exact same thing the exact same way is very difficult and not that profitable.   Rather than just Ardour (which is the mixing console for linux audio), it may make some sense to expand the list to a handful of audio apps that make a complete package and spread the effort and spread the wealth a little bit.   This approach dilutes the control over ones destiny, but it provides a more 'unified front' of something to market.
2.   It was stated early on that there are 10,000 downloads per month of an OSX Ardour.   I can't see any reason why the binaries can't be place in the Apple Store where they can be downloaded for a fee (similar to ITunes) and the source placed on the Ardour site and still remain compliant with the GNU license.  If the price were $10 for OSX binaries the downloads may go down to 1,000 rather than 10,000, but it would offset the cost.  GNU doesn’t mandate that you lose money, it is really about freedom more than free (as in beer). 
3.  There has been very little discussion about what can be done with Ardour/Linux easier or can't be done at than with other applications/os's.  Looking at unfulfilled market areas is going to be much easier than trying to take on M-audio/ProTools head to head with a bunch of very conservative and stubborn musicians who almost universally tell me "ProTools is for pros.   All the other stuff like GarageBand, Cubase, Sonar, N-Track is for people who are learning to be pros."   This is the bias you will face with the pro music community.   The only way past this thought is to make someone else successful (then the musical pros will pay attention to what you offer).  Looking for new markets that are unfulfilled or underserved is a good starting point.   It would also help to determine if you are more interested in selling 100,000 things for $100, or 100 things for $100,000 as a goal (this will set the size of the organization needed to keep things progressing).

-Mike Mazarick

More information about the Ardour-Dev mailing list