On long term sustainability for third party plugin devs


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I was reading theplague :rofl:


After the recoil of Animated circuits and Blamsoft I wonder what guarantee users have before spending money on modules that will possibly be released for free in the future? @David

If I recall, @Vortico has said he’s maintaining the Blamsoft modules with respect to compatability with Rack 1.0. It sounds like source code escrow is the current “guarantee.” I didn’t recall correctly.

It’s sort of the same problem with any proprietary software though. VSTs aren’t really maintained, they just sit linked against an unmoving API that everyone else has to work around the bugs of. LADSPA and LV2 would have the same crinkle but most of those are open source, so the effects people want kept alive get hacked to keep working when needed.

I suspect Propellerhead users might be familiar with this problem. If I recall they have to buy special “rack mounted” versions of plugins to use over there, combining the worst of a host-based platform and inability to fix it yourself.

I’ve seen apps go free after years of pay on app stores - SwiftKey comes to mind the most here @Patman

SwiftKeys always planned on getting their income primarily through phones (ex. Samsung.) They sublicense it to the phone developers to make their default keyboard or patch it in to one (ex. notice how the Samsung default keyboard works almost the same as a default Swiftkeys install, but without themes or alternate layout settings.)

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I never said that. Where did you hear that?

I think he confused about your names, @Skrylar, @Vortico is Andrew Belt and Blamsoft is Andrew West

It’s Andrew Best. Very close name but not the same person.

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'tis indeed what happaned :frowning: Scratched it out of the post.

Something something to the BLAT-mobile!

Kinda like that?

Gumroad and pateron are great ideas and working models as is the idea of first access to modules with subscriber model.

Another way is user funding for specific module builds. for example the buchla DIY builds are pretty much open source (ha, well for people with the cash) where you can either DIY build or pay someone to build modules or systems. So what i mean is: basically module requests by users or a group of users who collectively fund the coding and hardwork.

So for example I would like a buchla 259 clone with nebula style convolution sampling of the original preamp and the revs, id like vactrol emulations (sampling) and i’d like the 259 to load in cold, warm, roast winter temperature modes. Or each time the 259 opens it is somehow different. I would want a comb filter somewhere in there, like a filter in a serge NTO, a strike input like the dpo. a few years ago i worked with encoder audio, as a user, on a m4l 259 clone and the result was fantastic. Image result for encoder audio immensity

The user, the ‘synth-head’, has a massive part to play in the process.

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Something that could also work is rewarding donations system, say a dev has a patreon account. Each time the donation reach a specific amount of XXX$, he or she will release a new module. Then the new modules are free for everyone, but they wont exist if they are not funded by whoever feels responsible. a kind of kickstarter to fund free modules.

You could vary that principle by making the modules available to subscribers only for 3 months or somesuch before putting them on general release.

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this donation system is basically what chris from airwindows is using

i really like this idea

This is exactly what Reason does with Rack Extensions. I second the idea above that this would help encourage people to share patches (even with paid modules) and would likely bring an increase of revenue to 3rd party developers.

VCV Rack seems to be echoing Reason in many regards. It is easy to justify paying for modules in VCV for me since VCV is still free… not the case with Reason. However, it seems that VCV will cost something someday (soon), that is, to get a fully functional version with VST, Host, and whatever else (supposed non-essentials) can be monetized while leaving VCV Rack still relatively functional and ‘free’. This is of course, not a critique of VCV Rack’s profit platform: coding takes time and money and hey, the cost/value ratio is (still) amazing!

In very dry terms, Andrew has said the following:

  • Rack will always be Open Source (so, free).
  • The VST version of Rack, planned for after 2.0 will be $99 (so, not free).

Yes that is clear. I doubt, however that VST will be the final sorta ‘upgrade’ or essential aspect of the VCV project. ‘Rack Lite’ if and that’s not meant to be demeaning, will be free but a full DAW of Rack after a few more years let’s say, not so sure. It’s the nature of the beast I suppose.

I am not nay-saying since I am perfectly content with my VCV and need little more (thank you to all developers!! my dream machine)

I’m a little bit late for the discussion but here’s my point of view.

The current model of some plugins free some paid seems to me very easy. If a person decides to support my work (and get something special as reward) they can do it. In Rack you have that freedom. Selling through the VCV store gives a small (but direct) contribution to VCV that hopefully will help to pay some of the bills. If I used Patreon, Bandcamp or Gumroad there’s no way for me to contribute to VCV, apart from buying the comercial plugins, which I do anyway.

One of the great things about Rack is that it attracted lots of small (or starting) developers. Vult was born with Rack and it wouldn’t exist without it. Without Rack, Vult would be mathematical models running only in my computer.

With the DRM system the big developers may enter the game. That’s very good for Rack but may not be very good for small developers that sell modules like me. There are many aspects in which we cannot compete with the big names. I think that my models have professional quality, but my development time is too slow compared to what a team of people working full time can achieve. And of course, a stablished brand name is what it is.

Everything is up to the users to decide. I don’t know the numbers, but I would guess that a large number of users do not get any of the comercial stuff. If new developers enter the game with the pure intention of making money, the users will decide if they stick around or not.

Meanwhile I will keep slowly developing stuff that I like, because I like the community here and I like to model stuff. Vult is about 95% my own research and every line of code is mine.


First of all, let me say hi to all, as this is my first post on the forum. And haven’t I picked ripe plum of a subject as my first interaction!

The reason that I’ve chosen this as my first post is that I am approaching VCV from the perspective of being a relatively successful music producer (disco scene) that has been keeping an eye on VCV from afar for 12 months or so; who also owns a Eurack modular system and the Softube Modular plugin (Ableton Live is my host of choice as I’ve used Cycling '74 Max for many years - mainly for midi/CV trickery rather than DSP).

I recently took the plunge into VCV and have committed most of my working hours over the last week or so digging through the modules to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of each. And as a result, have purchased the premium Vult plugins for a number of reasons. In the main, they were as follows:

  • They sound great considering how light they are on CPU resources in comparison to the ‘best in class’ options in the DAW/Plugin world (Softube Modular, U-He, Native Instruments, Cytomic etc).

  • I could see that Leonardo is committed to the project, uses social media channels very effectively to both promote and document his efforts; and most importantly updates his creations on a regular basis.

  • Leonardo involves those customers with a passionate commitment to his output as ‘partners’ that help shape his products.

  • I like that Vult plugins go beyond mere emulation.

I’ve also been impressed by certain modules within the packages from the following vendors:

21Khz, Amalgamated Harmonics, Arable Instruments, AS, Andrew’s Mutual Instruments clones (I have 4 Shruti’s that I built myself as well as various MI Eurorack modules), Befaco (I don’t own any Befaco modules but have decided to purchase a hardware Rampage off the back of my VCV testing), Bidoo, Bogaudio, cf, dBiz, E-Series, Geodesics, Gratrix, Greyscale, HetrickCV, Impromptu Modular, JW, Lindberg Research, ML Modules, mscHack, MSM, NYSTHI, Sonus Modular, Southpole, Squinky Labs, Stellare Modular and Valley.

Over time I can see myself donating to many within that list of developers (if they only develop free modules) and/or purchasing commercial options. I’ll be compelled towards that decision if those developers display similar qualities to those I’ve highlighted regarding Vult. I’ll also be purchasing some of Andrew’s commercial offerings as it seems somewhat unfair to only support third-party developers! :slight_smile:

With V1 and tighter DAW integration via the dedicated plugin options, Andrew will get a raft of new users producing all colors and flavours of electronic music. There will also be many like me that won’t in general attempt to create single modular patches in VCV as final compositions but rather, are more interested in VCV as ‘just another’ sound source, albeit one that takes advantage of the freedoms of modular patching.

I think it’s vital that VCV remains a free product (with a great library of free third-party modules) as it will be for many their first introduction to the wonderful world of modular synthesis. I also think that Vult has come up with a very fair mix of free and commercial offerings. That mix of free and commercial modules allows those on a learning path to benefit from the majority of his output at no cost, and at the same time provides significant advantages with his paid products for those who want to benefit from his portfolio more deeply.

To be balanced, I want to highlight some of the negatives I’ve encountered too (there are only a few).

  • Some of the commercial offerings are IMO too highly priced and I believe those products would be far more successful if they were priced closer to the ‘hobbyist developer’ products that are freely available as Max4Live or Reaktor add-ons ($1-$15). It has to be remembered that great modules for Softube Modular, which are best in class (Eurorack emulations) can be purchased for under $30 and at sale time for significantly less. Those modules can also be demoed before purchase. One of the reasons that commercial third-party Max4Live add-ons (and Reaktor ensembles) are priced so keenly is that there’s no way to demo them before purchase. Currently, some third party VCV commercial options are blind purchases too. Over the years I’ve found that I’m happy to purchase blindly if it’s priced at ‘impulse purchase’ levels but less so once the pricing increases.

  • It’s unfair to compare the VCV Mutable Instruments clones to the hardware or Softube versions (Braids and Clouds) but the VCV versions are a fair distance behind the Softube emulations both from an audio quality and UX perspective. The audio quality difference I put down to Softube ‘component modeling’ the complete unit and Softubes militant stance of oversampling everything within their modular emulation (this, in turn, makes Softube Modular far more processor intensive than VCV). The only reason I highlight these differences is that I believe there will be many like me, that begin their VCV exploration through the modules they know most and in the case of the Mutable Instruments clones, this doesn’t necessarily show the best that VCV has to offer. Once VCV allows the artist to choose oversampling levels within the plugin version (Bridge works at the global DAW sampling rate) this will hopefully close the gap with regards to audio quality (at the expense of increased CPU load).

These minor negatives haven’t clouded my overall impression of VCV. In a very short space of time, VCV has become a compelling software modular emulation on so many different levels. But most of all for me as a music producer, it’s capable of producing a gobsmackingly almighty range of timbre’s that ‘none’ in the traditional DAW plugin world are capable of, not even the mighty Softube Modular or Reaktor Blocks (it’s two nearest software ‘modular’ compatriots). Much like a hardware modular, it’s the vast variety of available modules that makes VCV a compelling alternative to the very best non-modular VA emulation(U-He’s Diva, Repro-1/5, Bazille, and Korg’s Odyssey being my personal plugin favorites - some of which are semi-modular). VCV may not quite pip Blocks or Softube Modular in terms of its audio quality (yet!) but it spanks them both in terms of the variety of high-quality sound generating/mangling options and with regard to its comparatively CPU friendly nature (which will be appreciated by those with more humble computer hardware). It must also be said that the slight difference in audio quality is a very reasonable compromise considering how much more accessible it makes VCV with regard to hardware platforms.

All-in-all, I’m really looking forward to continuing my journey with VCV and it’s a wonderful range of third-party modules.



Your words made me remind of the Homebrew Computer Club @modlfo, in that all of their members freely shared source code and ideas about how computers and operating systems had to be … Until some discovered that they could do money with all that … So free sharing ended, and what previously had been open code, became all of a sudden closed code, and a mere business.

It would be a pity that all that would happen again, now in the “Homebrew VCV Rack Club” and that eventually VCV Rack became merely a comercial business, and that all of a sudden became a closed code based on licenses for which anyone would have to pay.

It would be a pity also, that our “Club” could lose “small” GREAT developers like you, who enjoy sharing their knowledge with other users, asking for a fair small fee for some GREAT modules, from time to time.

Sincerely, it would be truly a pitty that this great community would be lost just because greed :pensive:

So i hope VCV Rack (and module developersrs) stand firmly against the temptation of any easy business … And this, of course, needs the support of the whole commmunity, buying from time to time some of their cheap GREAT modules … Otherwise, any complaining/lamentation later, will be absolutely futile.

Any user should be aware that it is not enough to download free modules and give thanks for them, and then download the paying modules in the “black market” (yes some modules are already there) …

This great community is in the hand of ALL OF US, and not only in the hands of Andrew and the developers … If we don’t see this, then we’'ll have no right to complain when we have to pay for everything (including VCV Rack itself)

My two cents! … Thanks for listening! :pray: :purple_heart:



No comparisson posible (as @modlfo has explained really well in his post), between a fully dedicated team and a solitary developer that has to devote him/herself to develop modules in his/her spare time after work or after personal family affairs … And 15/20 bucks/euros is not that much at least once a month (surely we spend that money, or even more, in things that we can easily do without)

Not really true, there’s always a video out there that uses them so you can see them in action and how to use it.

There’s people who make music with objects found in the trash, you know … and they sound quite well … Sure they do not sound like an orchestra in any classical music concert, but they are happy with what they do, being themselves able to get that sound from their “trashy” instruments …

So in the end, what really matters, you know, is to enjoy oneself doing music … And one don’t need to spend hundred or thousand dollars to make music, because by just tying a cord to a wood stick one can make music, even if it don’t sound like a real guitar or bass … So i am (and probably some hundred or thousand VCV Rack users) really happy to have a tool like VCV Rack with which to enjoy myself doing music … no matter if it is the Rolls Royce of Modular Synthesis or not.

My two cents! :pray: :purple_heart:


I’m stealing this quote. Every day I want to say to someone:

There are people who sold out tickets to a concert hall making music with objects found in the trash, but here you are shaming the sound of a truly innovative product, based on discrepancies you see on your oscilloscope or your (usually 99% placebo-influenced) opinion on “audiophile” grade equipment, yet you’ve sold like 5 copies yet on your pretentious Bandcamp page in the last 4 years.