On long term sustainability for third party plugin devs

Here is a subject open to debate, that comes after the excellent commercial Blamsoft modules turning free:

How to sustain a long term activity for 3rd party developer on this opensource spirit community.

The current model is simple: 3rd party devs are making free modules, and paid packages or donation to finance the free modules.

As the community is based on patch sharing, paid modules are a kind of obstacle to the sharing spirit, and most of the videos are published are involving free modules, so the paid modules are not advertised and not encouraged.

If the paid modules are not a success, how to keep the devs motivated to stay on vcv platform?

While we are all here for the fun, making the activity of 3rd party dev sustainable would avoid too many abandoned collection in the long term.

Do you think it’s important for the devs to be sustainable on vcv?

Is there a way to change the behaviour of the community to make the Paid modules system working?

If not, what model would work?

Any other existing model to inspire?


These are all excellent and important questions Pyer. Putting my thinking cap on…

A time-limited demo state for paid modules would allow people to try shared patches without having to commit to modules they aren’t sure about yet. I think this would provide fantastic free advertising for paid modules.


well imho the Devs should answer your questions by themself,
this would be the best way to get valid answers.

I really like the idea of sustained support,
so if I can help, I surely will do it.

Just a little warning: I’m going to make a large speculation, so I have to advise you to stay away unless you are really tired to keep patching. Time is money after all… :money_mouth_face:

@pyer Good point and vaste topic. There is undoubtedly a somewhat large apparatus of literature and theorization about business models for open-source software. The unavoidable reference can be Wikipedia as well as several articles on the subject featured in the OpenSouce website.

The difficulty is that here we are in front of a more complex reality, a distributed networked and quasi-atomic model, with dozens of single entities (plugin developers) orbitating around a driving development core (VCVRack). We have a main open-source host software with its partially independent business model, interrelated with a galaxy of third-party plugin developers. One model (the host) is the scope for the existence and development of the others (the plugins ecosystem), and viceversa, the free access and growth of the plugins ecosystem supports and has immediate positive fallout on the success of the host program.

Technically speaking, this model is working like a charm. Financially speaking, it’s more difficult. In the depicted situation, trying to find solutions inside the boundaries of known and tested business models is hard thing.
Now, I have no special ideas to suggest, because I am far to be less than an expert in monetization affairs… you see, I save on pizza but then spend all my spare money in musical toys. But I share your concern, and this can be a good place to start reasoning and put ideas in line.

Could any existing approach - crowdfunding, patronage, group-buys, partnerships, supporting events or workshops, sponsorization, etc. - be a viable solution? I don’t know, facing this model of atomized development, so successfull till now with regards to the technical results and the quality of software, but so uncertain to account for its profitability and, precisely, for its “sustainability in the long term”. Yet I think most of developers are contributing mainly for passion, but this is another story.

Maybe there could be a subscription model with open-fundings of special or collaborative projects, and maybe I’m only exploring utopias here. Again, there’s a multitude of actors involved, how to take in account for that?

Eventually, the current practice of donations and premium (paid-for) content (modules) is not to be thrown away completely, I guess. Only thing, it has to rely on supporting people, involvement, and good will of users, to keep working, even in a minimal way.


i think some kind of patronage or subscription system (like patreon) and a pay-what-you-want system (like bandcamp) would help.


That’s an excellent subject! I actually asked in one of my recent videos, what do users think about me using commercial modules in my videos. On the one hand, I want everybody to be able to download the patch and use it or learn in more in depth so using only free available modules is a big part of this direction. On the other hand, I also want to show how amazing some of the commercial modules can be, and support the developers by giving more exposure to their plugins.
We also have to remember that a lot of people who are attracted to VCV Rack (and I can be totally wrong on this actually) are attracted to it since it’s a free software. They either want to learn more about synthesis, figure out what they want in their own Eurorack case, or just have fun.
There is also the issue of the immense number of free available modules, and the fact that people are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, so adding even more modules to this collection is not necessarily their highest priority, especially that VCV Host is out and it’s possible to use almost any VST inside VCV Rack…
Another issue is that some people don’t “trust” the 3rd party developers. They don’t know if the plugins will be supported in the next VCV Rack version, and sometimes it’s hard to get a hold of developers for reporting issues and such. That’s of course not the case with the official VCV modules.This is just what I understood from users I’m in contact with.
I think that it’s kind of sad that developers like Andrew from Blamsoft, gave up on creating commercial modules and\or modules at all for VCV Rack. Being able to demo the commercial plugins can help the situation, and on my end, I will use more commercial modules in my videos because there are really great modules out there and great developers that deserve more support, no doubt about it.


This question should probably be directed at the users, more than the developers.
If a developer decides to release stuff for free, that’s great. It’s his decision, and he will be happy with that.
But if a developer decides to ask for some money for his work, that involves a double statement. 1. The stuff is worth paying for. 2. He will not abandon the product.

So there’s a responsability in this for the users to buy those modules, to build a system where developers will stay motivated to develop and support their stuff.
For that reason, I bought all of them (I am not rich, but it’s not that much money, on the scale of musical instruments investments).
Unfortunately, there’s some stuff between those modules that I never use (because they are not that great)… (Funny enough, those were the more expensive ones, and some of the first payed modules)
But what I find more concerning, is that some of the most expensive, and also great modules, have now been given away for free. In my reasoning from before, that would mean the developer has given up hope of getting some profit from Rack, and will probably turn away from developing, probably from support, too.
Why? Probably because not enough users decided to support him.

So I think the system, as it is now, works fine, as long as people decide to support the developers. That would not be different with a patreon, or pay-what-you-want system.


At a tangent, there is potentially another problem … DRM.

Speaking to a major dev a while ago, they said that they wanted to release commercial modules for Rack, but that the DRM situation had to be cleared up first.

As far as I am aware there is nothing to prevent widespread sharing of commercial modules.

I doubt if 99% of the community here would ever do such a thing but it may be enough to stop many potential players porting their algorithms to Rack.

The kind of DRM that Cherry Audio has (I think - I don’t own it) is a long way from the ethos of Rack, but it has encouraged PSP to port a lot of stuff to their platform. I’ve asked them a couple of times if they would port to Rack but have had no reply.


That’s a good question @Omri_Cohen, and I have thought about it a few times. You describe the pros and cons of both approaches and for me I would say - mix it up! You know, half the time have a video where you say “and for this I only used free plugins” and the other half say upfront “and for this video I used the Blamsoft/Vult/whatever paid plugin” - I think that would be a healthy strategy. I think you already do that to some extent, because you regularly use the paid Vult plugins in your videos, right? In general - I think it’s a good thing to keep the balance between, on the one hand showing people all the great free plugins we have, and on the other hand showing them some of the high quality paid plugins, and letting people know they’re an important part of the Rack ecosystem, and that they pay for the continued development of Rack.


Yes, and that’s already partially happening, I noticed that a good bunch of developers uses the Gumroad platform and the name-your-price option.

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Maybe the patches with commercial modules would be open in read only mode.

You can hear the patch, you can touch the knobs, you can learn,
but you cant save or change the wires.

Just thinking.

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I totally agree that demos and tutorial videos of “premium” plugins are a great form of incentive to buy and indirect adv. Particularly if we consider the high-quality and high-informative videos like the ones Omri has accustomed us.


Off-topic, but I read this post entirely in your voice @Omri_Cohen …


Patreon propose a system where you can choose to give money for each new video that comes out. Maybe this could work with modules: only free modules, but patreon system highly encouraged with a system of donation for each future new modules or update.

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It is relevant in this thread to point out that a DRM library will be available after Rack 1.0 is released that will be available for plugins sold through the VCV Plugin Manager and will allow things like time trial demos.


Well, if they used any DRM above a serial number/receipt check, I wouldn’t buy them. Dodging this kind of DRM has lead to discovering some interesting software from smaller/off name places and I don’t have a lot of regrets on that front.


Interesting. Another suggestion is the idea of the “early adopters”. Users supporting the devs get betas and/or previews and/or “Pro” versions with discounted prices beforehand that stay untouched after the official release of their products. Liqube Audio apply a similar policy for its Resonic sample manager (but it’s a closed source product).
The model of dual-feature collection of modules (limited/full functionality, or full/extra functionality, or normal set/super set of modules) is the more practiced from our plugin developers, and though with different connotations, it should appear clear to all as a request for support.
Another "donationware-derivative” example is the name-your-price option of the dev version of the Geco Panel editor by Raphael Hoffman (Hora Music) on Gumroad.
In every case, it seems that we come back always at the core factor: the real drivers of support have to be the users. A supporting and generous user base / community sets the difference for the sustainability of development, besides all the support request strategies we can try to figure out.


HIhi :slight_smile:

Yeah, I do use occasionally commercial modules, not just from Vult, but mostly Vult, yes. I will try harder to integrate more and more commercial modules in my videos.

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