I recieve a large number of emails from Musink users. These emails generally fall into three categories:
“How do I…“,
“Have you ever considered adding feature X…“,
“Can I please have…“.
The first of these I am very happy to help with, and usually involve linking to a page on the Musink Help Wiki or Musink You Tube channel.
The second of these I usually appreciate greatly, and a topic I shall cover in a later blog post.
The third of these, however, are usually very tricky to reply to and the reason I write this blog post.
I would really like…
The overwhelming majority of these emails are written politely and ask for things which seem, at the surface, quite reasonable. What is often lacking behind these requests is simply context or background information about Musink, and software businesses in general.
Hi, my name is Lee
I am the developer of the software Musink which many of you love so much. I’m more than that though. I am the business manager, the tech support team, the systems maintenance manager, the public representative, the web design team, the author of all wiki content, the cleaner… and so on. Yes, the email you recieved from Musink may say “the team at Musink”, but 364 days a year, that team is just me. If you have not yet read this article on how Musink came to fruition, please give it a read to appreciate the kind of dedication I have to what is now your music software.
I live in a rented room, in a shared house, in a country which is not my own. I study full time as a PhD candidate, attempting to advance science to improve the lives of children with often-horrific brain injuries. I am on a modest scholarship that covers little more than basic living costs. My personal laptop takes 20 minutes to boot, I do not own a car, and I have a still-growing student loan that would make your eyes pop out of your head.
Nothing is for free
In a world of Gmail, Facebook, and Spotify it is very easy to forget that nothing is truly for free. Everything has a cost, somewhere. Servers cost money to run. Data needs to be backed up. Telco companies need to be paid. Developers need to eat.
I need to eat.
When you buy a product online, chances are, you found that website by clicking a link, or writing in a link you found in a magazine, on TV, or on a billboard. Directly, or indirectly, you found this link because of advertising. Guess what? The company you just bought from increased the price of what you bought, to pay for that advertising. You just bought advertising for someone else. It also increased the cost of what you bought to pay for that website. You just paid to keep some body’s server running.
Gmail, Facebook, and Spotify are advertising-driven. While they may appear to be free, in reality, when you buy something online, you are paying for those services.
Musink Lite is free … for you
Musink Lite is a version of Musink which is free to download and contains all the basic Musink features. It costs me money and time to maintain, to host online, to develop, to test, to write help documentation for, and so on.
I commonly turn down requests from unscrupulous companies to put adware or spyware in Musink Lite. Musink Lite is a gift to the musical community, and I will never infect it with third party nonsense like this. If I am turning this down, and nothing comes for free, who pays for Musink Lite?
A substantial amount of the revenue from Musink Pro is immediately spent to keep Musink Lite free for people who are just starting to compose, who are ‘poor students’ like myself, or who cannot justify paying for software that they only will use for a very short time. This money comes out of my (rather empty) pocket.
So, please, before asking “You give Musink Lite for free, so why can’t you provide me with a free copy of Musink Pro?“, consider the above. There would simply be no Musink Lite if I gave Musink Pro away. There would be no Musink at all.
Musink Pro is Unbelievably Cheap
It’s true. Musink Pro is sold well below its actual worth. In fact, for the average user Musink Pro is almost 10 times cheaper than competitor products.
This is for a number of reasons:
- I don’t want to put software out of the reach of students, financially-struggling artists, or low-decile schools
- Complex price structures would cost me additional time and money, and so drive up the average price
- I believe that its better avoid piracy than to cover its cost with higher prices for honest customers
- I believe it is better that many people enjoy Musink Pro at a low cost, than few people at a higher one.
Two For One?
I am very glad most customers are so keen to get their hands on what I have created for them to enjoy. The Terms of Sale, License Agreement and so on, which must be read prior to sale, explain clearly that the software can be used by many users, but must be kept on a single computer. If you change computers, I am even willing to move your license for free as a nicety. Is a this fair system? Should it not allow two computers, or three? To evaluate, a few points should be made:
- One computer per licence is the standard license for the industry.
- It is unlikely that your two devices have absolutely identical operating systems. Each of these operating systems costs considerable time and money to test Musink on (over a week each, currently). The more frequently an operating system variant is used, the more testing it recieves. More licenses = higher costs.
- Providing complementary licenses to existing users is no different to giving the product away for free, or dropping the price to $30 , which is below production cost
There are also our lessons from above:
- If you purchase software that allows itself to be on multiple devices, you have already paid for that privilege in the purchase price
- Raising the price of Musink Pro to allow multiple devices would put the software out of the reach of many musicians
- Musink Pro only costs $60 a copy . At that price, Musink Pro can be purchased for multiple PCs, and still save you hundreds of dollars over competitor software
There are also a number of technical issues with allowing multiple computers, which can be overcome but, again, would drive up the price of Musink Pro. Remember that Musink Lite is Free software, if you really need to run Musink on multiple computers, and don’t want to pay for the privilege.
But I only want more time…
One request I have received a number of times is “Can I please have a free version of Musink Pro? I only want to use Special Feature X and can’t justify purchasing it for just that feature“.
It’s true, Musink Pro has some great features. It is also true that most people won’t commonly use all of those features, but which features will be used varies greatly between people. What is going to be useful to you also may not be obvious until you have the feature available. For example, no new car owner is likely to get a discount because they are only buying a new car for the plush interior. They may also be pleasantly surprised one day when they get distracted and find the car has collision control, preventing an accident.
Musink Pro has features which I thought would be useful for others, but never expected to use myself. I now use every single one of these features. Most of these save me considerable time in my compositions. Don’t limit your creativity by defining in-advance that you’ll “never have a need for X”. Musink Lite has already saved you time. Musink Pro will do better still. What is your time worth? Even at a low rate of dollars-per-hour, Musink Pro will pay itself off in no time.
Please Don’t Steal
Of course, there will always be a minority who would rather their credit card remained finger-print free and seek an illegal copy. Luckily, Musink Pro remains mostly unpirated and the overwhelming majority of users are honest contributors to the community.
To the absolute minority of people considering getting a peg-leg and waving a cutlass, I simply plead that you do not.
For Your Sake
There is a high chance that what your download will not ever run on your computer. Your download will much-more-likely contain a virus than be successfully “cracked”, and will probably damage your computer. If you copy a license key, all software with that license key will probably cease to work. In the distinctly unlikely event that you have surpassed all checks and balances, and your system registry has not yet corrupted, your software will never update, and may still shut down or crash windows at any given moment. If you ever need help with anything, you won’t have an account to ask for help (I check!).
If your computer is worth more than $60, please do not attempt to steal Musink.
For My Sake
You are not stealing from a giant company whose CEOs swim in coins and wear $800 suits. You are stealing from me, Lee. I am a musician; a student. Chances are high that your bank account has less debt than mine. Your theft would not be neutral: it costs me money to cover bandwidth, to develop, to maintain, to provide updates, to write help documentation for Musink. Thefts of Musink would be not only against me, but against all other musicians legitimately using the software. Don’t steal from musicians!
If your soul is worth more than $60, please do not attempt to steal Musink.
To all of you brilliantly creative people who create beautiful music, thank you so much for enjoying Musink. For those of you who have already started using Musink Pro, thank you so much for enjoying the superior version of the software. I am so happy to share it with you. I am glad you enjoy it, and am I even more glad that many of you want more still.
While musing over your new creative tools please think of me, understand where the software came from, and remember the bargain you got it for.