[LAU] Payment In Kind Experiment

drew Roberts zotz at 100jamz.com
Wed Dec 12 15:46:12 EST 2007

On Wednesday 12 December 2007 10:13:16 plutek-infinity wrote:
> >From: drew Roberts <zotz at 100jamz.com>
> >
> >Payment In Kind Experiment or Funding Musical Free Software Development
> >
> >Was: Re: [LAU] A year of Linux Audio revisited - would like to know your
> >oppinion
> >
> >New ideas at the bottom, quote for context.
> >
> >On Wednesday 12 December 2007 06:49:08 Pieter Palmers wrote:
> >> Chris Cannam wrote:
> >> > On Wednesday 12 December 2007 05:50, Robert Persson wrote:
> >> >> Here is a good explanation of how groove quantise works in protools:
> >> >> http://www.audiomidi.com/classroom/protools_corner/ptcorner_63.cfm
> >> >>
> >> >> For some really fancy midi stuff going way further than groove
> >> >> quantise, you could take a look at some of Ntonyx's products, such as
> >> >> StyleEnhancer and StyleMorpher. If Rosegarden could implement some of
> >> >> those features that would be very useful for composers.
> >> >
> >> > Groove quantization is one of the oldest outstanding feature requests
> >> > in the Rosegarden tracker, submitted by me in 2002:
> >> >
> >> > http://sourceforge.net/tracker/index.php?func=detail&aid=633259&group_
> >> >id= 4932&atid=354932
> >> >
> >> > Unfortunately, as for so many features, this has simply never
> >> > percolated to the top of my priority queue, or stack, or whatever my
> >> > brain uses, and nobody else has ever shown much interest in coding it.
> >> >  And sadly I only have eight hands and three heads and there are only
> >> > 132 hours in the day.
> >>
> >> IMHO this remark gets to the heart of the problem. As a human being we
> >> have limited resources. I personally have to settle with one head, 2
> >> fingers and 24hrs in a day. The fact that humans also have to eat, and
> >> that food is seldom available 'for free' makes that some part of our
> >> resources are allocated to surviving. Oh, and having 'a life' also
> >> consumes an astonishing amount of these resources.
> >>
> >> There is no way around the fact that one has to eat, and that that
> >> doesn't go well with writing free software in the 'free beer'
> >> interpretation. Which seems to be the main reason why people turn to
> >> Linux. I've done a quick check on the cheapest offer from Cakewalk
> >> (Project 5) that might have all functionality that came up in this
> >> thread, and it is 100euro here. If all Rosegarden users were to pay
> >> Chris 100euro, I think Rosegarden would have more features than 'Project
> >> 5', or maybe even Sonar.
> >>
> >> The catch 22 seems to be that we currently attract a lot of 'free beer'
> >> attention. But in order to get really professional software, you need
> >> time, and time = money. So in order for the programs to become more
> >> professional, we need people that are willing to pay for them. Which we
> >> don't seem to have.
> >>
> >> You could think of it this way: suppose you have a Linux tool that has
> >> 20% of the functionality of an the equivalent Win/Mac tool, you could
> >> argue that it's worth 20% of the money. Now add all tools you use on
> >> Linux and try to estimate this '20%' value of your software collection.
> >> IMHO that's what you would have to be prepared to pay. Of course I know
> >> that this is a rude extrapolation, and that 20% of the functionality
> >> usually doesn't get you anywhere. But to be honest, I think most of the
> >> tools are more near 80% of the 'competing software's functionality.
> >>
> >> To give you another idea, from my personal pet project (FFADO):
> >> we are registered on the ohloh site
> >> (http://www.ohloh.net/projects/8040?p=FFADO), and one of the things they
> >> do is scan your code repository and use some industry standard way of
> >> value-ing the code (COCOMO). In the FFADO case they end up with a value
> >>
> >>  > $1.000.000. In other words, if you were to have a commercial company
> >>
> >> develop the code, it would cost you 1M$. But hey, pick me, I'll do it
> >> 'for free'... Rosegarden is also present on ohloh, and is valued more
> >> than $2M.
> >>
> >> I admit that these numbers are large extrapolations and have limited
> >> applicability, but they do provide some reference.
> >>
> >> The only project that seems to be able to break this circle is Ardour.
> >> I'd say that that is due to the fact that Paul didn't have to worry
> >> about his survival for the time it took to bring Ardour to a critical
> >> level. I.e. a level that was high enough for people to start paying for
> >> Ardour as soon as Paul's self-funding approached it's limits.
> >>
> >> For myself I can say that I'm spending an incredible amount of time and
> >> energy into coding open source, and that there is not that much in
> >> return. Well, there is the respect from fellow coders, gratitude from
> >> users, even free hardware (lucky me). But that doesn't pay the bills. So
> >> I have to go out and spend time at 'something that someone actually pays
> >> for'. And hence it takes 3 years to reach the functionality that comes
> >> 'out of the box' on another OS. If I would be sure I can earn a decent
> >> living with writing 'free' software, I would seriously consider it. But
> >> alas...
> >>
> >> Note that this is not really a reaction to the original blog giving an
> >> overview of the current Linux audio status, but more an attempt at
> >> expressing my view on why this is as it is, and why it's IMHO not very
> >> likely to change soon. It's like the Ableton guy said at LAC07: "I'm
> >> pretty happy with the we-sell-shrinkwrapped-boxed-software model, and I
> >> don't see a reason to change that.". Read: "why would we give it away if
> >> people seem to be willing to pay for it?".
> >>
> >> 2 cents for discussion,
> >>
> >> Pieter Palmers
> >
> >Nice write up.
> >
> >I have had this or a very similar thought recently in another context. So
> > here is my first attempt to develop it some for this context.
> >
> >We have people writing music making software and people using the same
> >software to make music.
> >
> >So. What can we do?
> >
> >1. Every software project that wants to could offer a version for sale
> > that is basically identical to the one available gratis. Hey, perhaps
> > with an autographed manual or a certificate of support to hang on the
> > wall, or perhaps to get your name in a "funders" list in the code.
> >
> >2. Request for coding help.
> >
> >3. Request for support in the form of Free Music.
> >
> >3.a. Please send us music using a Free License that you made using our
> > stuff. If you don't have any originals of your own, here is where you can
> > find some to do your own take of and send in. We can include this as a
> > showcase of our stuff.
> >
> >3.b. Help us put together a CD of such Free Music that we can sell and let
> > the proceeds support the project. ***
> >
> >*** This may just be the key idea. Now we get funding not just from the
> >limited number of people who use Free Software to make music, but from the
> >much wider number of people who are willing to buy music.
> >
> >If anyone wants to discuss these possibilities further, I would be most
> > happy to do so. A brainstorm in making 3.b. effective would be welcome.
> a very interesting idea, drew. indeed, it is probably necessary to leverage
> resources outside of the software users, since our user base is so small. a
> key question, to my mind, is how to make something like this look desirable
> for folks at large -- the simple fact that it has been made using free
> software doesn't in any way make it music that anyone might be interested
> in purchasing.

Perhaps a little, but certainly not for most and I agree. However, Free Music 
made with Free Software might be a bit more interesting.

Good music at a good price that also fits in the above mold might be even more 

So, assuming we have the music already (haha - I am in serious danger now...) 
what are some good ways to "sell" it?

I was looking at CD Baby, yesterday. Somewhat interesting, but they want 
physical CDs.

Anyone know how to get music into the itunes store?

Other possibilities:


cafepress.com - seem to sell CDs but I see no way to make one in my account.

Would magnatune be willing to handle music with Free licenses? (Do they 
already? - I can't tell now, something is busted with search on their site at 
the moment.)

opsound.org - may work. They want CC BY-SA music.

Would Fading Ways be willing to handle Free licenses? (Do they already?)

Other ideas?

> another thought which i've been entertaining is to direct a certain
> percentage of any personal profits made using free software back to  the
> software authours. it seems to me only reasonable that, if i am making
> money with these tools, some of that money is a result of the work of the
> respective coders. it's difficult to come up with any sort of rigourous
> algorithm to assess how much each application contributed to the final
> profits, but i think it's time (for me, personally) to implement some fuzzy
> instance of that principle, anyway. unfortunately, as alluded to above,
> even if we ALL did that, the user base is probably not large enough to
> fully support the coders.
> best.

all the best,


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