26 June 2009

Show Your Ardour for Ardour

Ardour is a fine open source music program; but like many fine open source programs, it has a problem: money - lack of it. In order to continue to improve the code, the Arbour team ideally needs dosh to pay for programmers and other such handy things; but it's not really happening:


As of now, June 25th, the financial side of things is not looking so good. Last month (May) didn't quite make the $4500 goal, and this month looks certain to fall short by quite a significant margin. There are currently 5-1/2 days left this month, and 28% of the target is still not met. There are no companies backing this project at this time, so its totally incumbent on those of you who use the program and have not yet helped pay to support it to step up and do the right thing. Thanks to everyone who has paid for their contributions and support.

Ardour will continue in some sense even if I find other work, and I believe that Carl, Dave, Hans and others will likely keep up some of their efforts anyway. Since the new download system started, there have been about 9000 OS X downloads and 6000 source code downloads. Less than 3% of the OS X downloads and only three source code downloads were associated with up-front payment, though it seems likely than many users donated after the fact. With a user-base like that, it seems to me that it should be possible to pay one full-time north american developer and to offer occasional payments to others for their outstanding work. What do you think?

Ardour is hardly the only project with these problems, which means that the open source world faces a larger issue: how to raise funds to pay for work that isn't being carried out mostly in bedrooms. It's not something many are thinking about (Matt Asay is an honourable exception), so it's not likely to get solved any time soon - which leaves Ardour in a bit of a pickle. Suggestions and contributions welcome.... (Via Leslie P. Polzer.)

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10 comments:

Crosbie Fitch said...

MicroPledge would have been ideal for Ardour, but this promising micropatronage site has now stalled - also due to lack of funds.

You can add me to the list of those thinking and doing something about this ( ContingencyMarket.com ).

glyn moody said...

Let's hope you succeed.

guy said...

I sympathise, but a download doesn't imply a user. I download tons of stuff just to try it out (not tried ardour yet though) and that's one of the pleasures of open source --- you're not obliged to sign a contract or pay someone just to take a look.

How many projects are successfully funded by donation? I'd guess (that's all, just a guess) that paid support, training, books etc. are a better bet.

glyn moody said...

That's a valid point. I think they're just asking that those who *do* use the program a lot might find it in their interests to support it more.

Leslie P. Polzer said...

Paul's made it! For this month at least...

Anonymous said...

Any donation based system seems likely to suffer in a financial downturn. Donations are excess money put into good causes and many people simply don't have excess money at the moment or are worried that they may not have excess money in the near future.

The trouble is that this results in a shrill call from those using donation as a primary funding source and this seems likely to result in dividends in the short term but this may serve to mask the insufficient level of support right up until the next funding crisis.

I say this as someone involved in a website that funds itself by donation and as someone who donates time and money to such causes but I doubt my opinion is more informed because of this.

glyn moody said...

@Leslie: thanks for the update - good news

glyn moody said...

@anon: you're right, we need to come up with a better system; the question is, what?

Crosbie Fitch said...

The answer is a system that isn't based on donations, i.e. one that is instead based on the exchange of work for money.

Before: "This s/w is great. Here, have $D as a token of my appreciation."

After: "If you fix bug X, I'll give you $x."

Leslie P. Polzer said...

Ardour already offers this system besides the donation system, but it doesn't seem to work that well in comparison.

A major problem of this system is that you always want to fix bug and add features to make the product better and more appealing regardless of financial input.