The music software market is an unusual selling environment at the best of times, but with so much impressive freeware now encroaching on its borders, what does the future hold for the developer looking to make a living?
We asked four of the industry's finest to give us their take…
"It depends. In the end, all developers need to eat something, so we need to ensure the free software
won't match the commercial stuff. But several old and previously famous companies don't keep pace with some of the new ones, like us, so some of the very expensive stuff people used some time ago on a daily basis can now be exchanged for free stuff from someone else. But the top-end stuff is always ahead of pretty much any free stuff out there."
"In my opinion, the quality gap between free and commercial music software is not getting smaller. New free audio plugins do appear on the scene, but they usually cannot compete with commercial offerings.
"More importantly, to my knowledge, no new free music sequencers have appeared on the scene in the last several years. So, free music software cannot really cover all the needs of modern sound recording. It also feels like the use of existing free music sequencers is not on a steep rise.
"On the other hand, demand for free plugins does increase every year, as reflected by an increasing trend for free plugin downloads on the Voxengo website"
"There are some terrific free plugins and apps out there, and some of them absolutely sound great. But remember, building quality software takes a lot of work. There are programmers, designers, artists, QA engineers, technical writers, musicians, and many others working on the programs you use, often for years - and there's a company standing behind the products you rely on. These folks all want to feed their families at night, so keep in mind that there's a good reason why truly great software costs a few bucks."
"During the past few years it's become easier for beginners to create software, since there are many open-source projects available on the web. This makes it easier and faster to assemble a project. However, these resources have been created by various programmers with random skill and (mostly) lower know-how. If you use these sources, you never know about possible bugs and weaknesses. That's why we keep the development completely within our own company and don't use external sources.
"The development of high-quality products requires a lot of investment and a large team. You need very experienced programmers, talented sound designers, graphic artists, translators and lots of time.
"A team of professionals wants to get paid; this financial budget is not available to hobbyist developers. That's why there will be always a quality gap between free and commercial software."