You never give me your money...

    You wanna send me some love, eh? Well, when I first opened shop I didn't accept financial contributions. Instead, I encouraged (and still do encourage) users to contribute to other open source audio projects such as KxStudio or Ardour. I tried to contribute through bartering: I made plugins, or a podcast, and others made other projects that we all shared freely. I like that system, but it isn't always enough. This is a rather sensitive subject, but I began to feel like plugins have a unique model for raising funds that large scale projects such as those don't. Plugins usually reach completion, large projects need continuous funding for specialized developers.

I started tryng to raise money for several reasons. First was because I previously had no expendable income to give to other projects. I hoped to raise money to donate to projects that have been valuable to me. Second was because I wanted to turn this hobby partially into a commercial enterprise. This would help my wife feel better about the amount of time I've spent developing.

Please keep in mind that I am and have always been fully dedicated to open source. I will stop developing before I stop developing open source projects. Commercial projects do not have to be proprietary. I decided to experiment with a fund raising campaign employing the OpenAV Productions release system. The original release date was set to one year from the announcement. Users donated what they want to move the release date closer. For every $2 USD donated the release date was moved 24 hours closer to the present. At some point the time/money requirements are fulfilled and the source code is released.

Their DSP was released when the fundraiser was announced so you could preview them as you please using the host generated UI. But if you wanted some sweet eye candy to go with them you had to donate or just wait. This made it so I was able to provide a good product immediately, and only hold the unnecessary GUIs for money. But only a limited time.

This system means the plugins and GUIs are GUARANTEED to be open-sourced even if no-one had donated (luckily that didn't happen). Furthermore donations of any size are valuable. Even a $.01 donation would bring the release more than 7 minutes closer. Every contribution makes it better for everybody. Therefore every contribution is valuable. Those who have much to give can even free the plugins in a single day if they value them at that level.

I still believe in a bartering system. Even during the fundraiser I provided the option to "donate in kind" to free the plugins by making a demo video on youtube, a bank of presets, bug reports, patch submissions, writing documentation, starting your own projects etc... even just make an awesome song and tell everyone you did with with free/opensource software. Thats what the Linux Audio community really needs even still. I was surprised and dissappointed that no-one has ever taken me up in this regard during the fundraiser. Thats not to say people haven't contributed a lot to my projects, but they've never tried to exchange them. It seems most contributors just do it as a favor. I've tried to do the same for others too.
The first fundraiser was for the GUIs of the original 7 infamous plugins. Only about a month of the 350 days was purchased back. I really appreciated all the people who contributed, but I expected more to be honest. Then there was an 11 month wait. I made a couple videos about the plugins, trying to generate more advertisement, but that didn't seem to have much effect, so I just hunkered down and sat it out. The deadlock turned out to be good in several ways. One was that it gave me a long testing period. Even though I thought they were done I found several issues during this period. And also I was able to work on some other projects that I'd been considering. So it made me diversify in a good way. Since I was "forced" to set aside this project I worked on porting Rakarrack to lv2 and making an OSC to MIDI bridge.

So the deadlock wasn't all bad for anybody. I was actually planning to do a premature release, but time got away from me and next thing I knew it was time to release. And surprisingly I recieved several kind donations after the release. After the fundraiser! So it paid on both ends. Not a ton, but enough to feel appreciated, and probably more than if I'd have just left a donation button on the site.

With the second fundraiser, a single plugin was used (lush life). This seemed to be much more what folks were looking for. I also made the demo video in advance and distributed it with the announcement. For these and/or other reasons it released after just 6 days. It was exciting to have so many people interested in my work.

I plan to do more of these as I complete plugins. I'm not sure how I'd change the system. If you have suggestions, I'm open to answers.

Huge thanks to our Donors!

Thank you all so much!