[Ardour-Users] Could this solve Ardour's financial headache?

Thomas Vecchione seablaede at gmail.com
Thu Jan 8 20:53:44 PST 2009

You forgot one option in your list, gets support from public grants.  In
fact one of your previous posts reminded me of something I had been thinking
of that may be worth looking into for Ardour, and that is applying for such
grants, like from the National Endowment for the Arts.  There are a few
categories there that we could fall under.  Similar grant organizations may
also be possibilities, it is just the NEA poped up first in my head.  At
least ona  temporary basis that could help some.  That being said...

On Thu, Jan 8, 2009 at 11:12 PM, Dewey Smolka <dsmolka at gmail.com> wrote:

> But the point is that there are alternatives. Ardour seems to be
> following the Wikipedia model, and based on the existence of this
> thread doing it rather badly.

Not doing it badly to be honest, doing better than most open source
projects, just not doing it enough to support the developers.

I would argue that 4) and 5) are non-starters. I don't think there's
> any real hope of generating revenue for even one developer through web
> ads, and the discussion itself suggests that there are (correct me if
> I'm wrong) only about 500 subscribers out of an estimated 10,000 to
> 20,000 users.

While I agree that no revenue stream worth enough to pay someone would come
from it, and am not advocating the idea, some revenue might come of web
ads.  It depends on how many of the users actually visit the ads themselves,
and how many gets the software from other sources like directly from SAE.

Likewise option 4 is what we are currently on, as you have noticed, and
while it is not bringing in enough, it is bringing in some, and some is
better than none, even if only slightly.

I don't mean to be a Johnny Raincloud here, but this is about what I
> would expect. Just as service organizations get an overwhelming share
> of work out of a small percentage of volunteers, and colleges get a
> hugely outsize portion of their foundation budgets from a tiny share
> of constituents, so too do open-source projects get nearly all of
> their labor and financial support from a minuscule share of people
> using the product
> Option 1) seems to be what John originally proposed -- that the
> software has a free branch and a commercial branch. In this case it
> would be the opposite of Red Hat, in that the Fedora pushes updates
> while commercial RHEL prefers stable packages.

Similar, but aren't organizations like SQL still providing access to their
source/SVN of either branch for free?  I believe that is the case for other
pieces of software I use that follow this model, such as QCad. In fact I
thought both RedHat and MySQL followed a service model, where they bring in
the majority of their money from the service contracts that accompany their
commercial products.  That is not really something I can see succeeding with
Ardour myself.

Options 2) and 3) are not as out of the question as you might think. I
> would think of 2) as being an arrangement with someone like Behringer,
> who as far as I can tell sells budget mixers that come with cheap and
> simple USB intefaces but no software.

Already has existed in the past, with Harrison Consoles.  Of course part of
the problem is that there is a large difference between digital mixers and a
DAW, where the two are not interchangeable.  Harrison still sells with their
consoles a specialized DAW unit with Linux and Ardour on it.  And they
supported Ardour's development for a while as well to get in the features
they wanted.  The problem, as Paul pointed out already, is that similar
agreements are hard to come by, because unless the company can make money
off of it they don't really want to support it.  Harrison was able to turn
it into something they could advance their product with, but they are a very
specialized market.  I wouldn't treat Behringer as a possibilityin that
regards myself, plus if Ardour is trying to portray itself as a professional
DAW, you do NOT want to be associated with Behringer, Mackie, or similar,
not to mentiont hat a computer DAW is somewhat out of their market, even
Mackie has ceased operation on its HDR units, which were the closest things
to it.

> There also outfits like M-Audio -- some of their gear ships with LE
> versions of ProTools, for example. Are they paying or getting paid in
> that deal? What's it cost them?

M-Audio is owned by Digidesign, the makers of ProTools.  That is what is in
it for them.  They can sell the M-Audio hardware and cheaper versions of
ProTools to get people hooked and make money at the same time, so that those
that go on to do more professional work in the future buy ProTools as it is
what they are familiar with.  Digi is nothing if not good with their

> I see option 3) as being developing and selling a lightweight,
> integrated Ardour system on a self-contained hardware device.
> Something like the Tascam digital 8-tracks -- a small, self-contained,
> digital multi-track recorder with a mixer interface. Yes, it runs
> Linux, yes it runs Ardour. It also runs hardware-dependent stuff,
> although you're welcome to the source if you've got the hardware.

> I don't know any particular company that might be interested, but
> today's economiy being what it is, I bet that with the proper hardware
> spec and a well-tuned kernel you could build such a device in China
> for under $50 a pop. The Tascams I'm thinking of retail at around
> $400.

I believe you are being overly optomistic on several things there.  One the
Tascams, and other similar devices from companies like Yamaha or Korg, have
economy of scale going for them.  Two, as of right now Ardour still runs on
a general purpose machine, to build a specialized machine like you are
talking about would take considerable effort to my knowledge, and probably
some pretty strong modifications to Ardour.  So really what you are looking
at is the opportunity to build a custom PC at that point, and adding on the
other bits.  See Harrison's XDubber for an example.  It exists, but the
quesiton on whether it can support itself is not known, though apparently
there is some conversation on that front that I am blissfully unaware of;)

Option 7) is not out of the question either. There are a lot of people
> out there that a project such as this would appeal to -- successful
> artists, internet billionaires, well-meaning philanthropists. There
> are more of them than you think, and you only need a couple.

Probably the most likely sadly. Heh some portion of my mind wonders if NIN
or some other large name like them that is advocating a break from the
current production model of music might be worth approaching at some point,
but that requires them actually have money to start with and I don't know
how much Trent or anyone else would have.  Ah well then again that just
might be me thinking out loud as I am a fan of the recent philosophical
shift they have done, even if not entirely of their music.

> A company may also be enticed to offer support for the brand
> recognition they could get from being associated with free creation of
> music (tm). I imagine a good pitch could at least get you a meeting
> with Google.

Google at least supports Ardour some through the Summer of Code stuff.  It
would be interesting to see if they wouldbe interested in more direct
support,but I am not sure I would hold my breath.

> It's not that I'm unwilling to give $35. It's that I'm not sure my $35
> is what you need. If the goal is having multiple full-time employees,
> then not even a $35 check from every post in this thread would get you
> close.
> I'm sorry if I'm being negative or out of line. I really like Ardour.
> The Ardour/Jack system is very elegant, and there is enormous
> potential.

I don't think anyone is going to consider you negative for this to be
honest.  Everyone int his thread knows and sees the problem, it is how to
best approach it that is being discussed and you have done a good job of
laying out your opinion on the various options.

> For context, I'm recording to an Athlon XP+ 4800 (I think), running
> 64-bit Ubuntu Studio. I think it's got 4GB RAM. OS and storage are on
> separate volumes. Audio I/O is a Delta 1010LT run through a 16-track
> Behringer board -- using 8 analog-in, 8 analog-out and MIDI.
> I use Ardour because it's Free, not because it's free. I know I depend
> on others to make it so, and I appreciate it. But I don't think the
> project is going to support several full-time jobs out of paid svn
> access, web ads, or nagware.

I tend to agree with you last line there myself.  But on the flip side there
is still something to be said for anything is better than nothing in many

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