Thursday, May 22, 2008

Additional Thoughts on Dual-Pricing

  • Go ahead and reduce polyphony on the non-commercial version.  6 voices is enough.
  • Don't remove any features like OSCs or filters or mod-routings... that'd be lame and people would continue to steal.
  • Limit the number of concurrent instances.  Two is enough, but four would be better.
  • Here's the really neat idea: enforce a cc-by like license.  So that songs/albums that use the software must (legally) list the software being used.  Free marketing for you!
  • Of course, no technical support.  (Support is where a whole lot of cost goes for software.)
I also want to point out that it is very important to release a high-price version of the software as well as the low-price.  First, those are the people who will require support, and you (as the developing company) pay through the teeth for that.  Second, and more importantly, it will ameliorate the perception of the software being "cheap".  PoiZone, for example, sells for $80 or so (last I checked).  It's a nice synth!  I'm not sure why it's that low.  ...But for reasons that may be lame but are entirely human, I kinda passed on the synth because it was in the bargain bin.  There's just something about a low price that suggests cheapness.  But if you sell a non-commercial version on the cheap when the "real" version costs $500, far more people will say "Aww, man, I need this synth".

Yes, you will get fewer sales of the commercial version.  But I imagine the non-commercial version will sell profoundly well.  I think in the end, you'll end up with more overall income.

My two cents.

Passive Mode

I've spent the last two weeks reliving my old gear lust days.  As a result, I've spent a lot of time (a lot of time) watching video demos and listening to audio examples and reading reviews on the web. In the past few days, my internet travels have landed me on copyright issues.

Specifically, I watched a talk by Larry Lessig on copyright... and this reminded me of a post where I made an ass of myself a few weeks ago.  I also read another article (very long) at CDM about copy-protection on virtual instruments.  I found myself getting sucked into reading the comments on these two CDM posts... something I very, very rarely do.  (My experience with comments has been one of flamewars (resulting from appropriate bait), back-patting, and generally lame opinions from extremists).

I thoguht I would make my stance clear in a post, here, in two quick points and a pre-emptive defense:
  1. I think copyright laws stiffle creativity, and that copyright lawsuits are harmful in all but the most extreme cases.
  2. I think copy-protection on software is profoundly lame. I believe the solution is dual-pricing, where a nominal fee ($20-$50) is charged for (download-only) non-commercial users and a higher fee ($200 and up) is charged for commercial use.
When I say things like this, people inevitably ask me (lame, IMO) questions, so I'll pre-emptively respond:
  • Yes, I own the software that I use.  (Despite the fact that I release my music for free and have never earned a penny for it.)
  • Yes, I have stolen software.  ...It so happens that I'm not using any now, but I will admit that I have in the past, and may do it in the future.
  • Yes, I will buy the software once I deem it's a tool I will consistently use.  Like I said, I own everything I use now.
  • I am a software developer.  Yes, I know what goes into development.
  • No, I am not a commercial software developer, my I suppose my paycheck doesn't come directly from software sales, so I can't speak to that.
  • No, if someone used my music in a commercial way (even a complete rip-off), I would not sue them.  Unless they attempt to tell me that I cannot freely release the originals anymore, because that's ridiculous.  I release my music cc-by, only because they removed the non-by option from cc.  I don't care if I'm credited, as long as I am allowed to (truthfully) say I wrote it.  I don't release it non-derivs, I don't release it non-commercial.  In fact, I think both options are lame lame lame lame lame.  They violate the whole spirit of cc, and I cannot respect that.  cc-by I kinda get, just because some people really need acknowlegement.  So be it.
  • Yes, that is a promise, and yes, you can call me on it if I ever violate that.
  • Yes, I would buy tons more software if they would follow the dual-pricing scheme.  Zebra and Z3ta+ and Albino3 and MMV and Jupiter 8V and Morphine and Toxic3 and...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Album names

I'm fascinated by names... I find it one of the more pleasant aspects of writing music, that we have to name songs and albums.  It's just fun, for me.

My next album will be named "synanthropic", which I heard on a TED talk today.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


A rather beautiful demonstration of MMV... makes me want it:

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Next Album: Whom

I just sent my new album to the folks at Kahvi for release. The administrator's comment was "very nice release indeed".

The covert art (to the left) was drawn by me--charcoal and conté, 18x24 (originally).

I'm not sure when it will be released... within the next six months, certainly; hopefully sooner. Definitely not in the next few weeks, though.

This was an album I really needed to get out of my system. As I've said in other posts, this is a "finding myself" album.

Now that it's done with, I'm looking toward my next project (I already have an idea for a "concept album"). In preparation, I've spent a few hours this week "porting" some of my favorite patches from a synth I used to use (Albino) to my new synths (Virus, Predator, Atmosphere, impOSCar). Far and away, the Virus sounds the best (not to mention, it's the only synth that can match Albino's complexity). Of course, each synth has its own character, so more often than not I would tweak the patches a bit to take advantage of those traits. As a result, I ended up with much larger patch-banks in all m'synths. : )

But, like the album, now I know I can put Albino to bed. Rest in peace, my old friend.

Friday, May 2, 2008


I kinda miss Trash.

"Clean" sound isn't always "better" sound... sometimes an over-saturated signal sounds better than the real thing.  Like impOSCar's filter does *horrible* things to the signal itself... it doesn't behave!  But despite that, it seems to sound better than most filters.  The Virus's filter is similar.

It's kind of like the tendency for music these days to be over-compressed / limited.  When you look at the signal in an editor, it looks horrible!  There's very little information there, the signal is so hot.  ...And yet somehow it still sounds better than the music from 15 years ago, when post-production thought "clean" was still in.


I sometimes wonder what it would sound like if someone would build a synth with this in mind.  ...Not that they should let quality slide--no... just that they need to realize that a distorted signal sometimes sounds better.  What if you put distortion/saturation/ringmod on the OSCs, before the filter?  Or what if you had a multi-pole filter that distorted or saturated the sound between each stage?

KVR and Reviews

...I've been playing around with Predator a lot lately.  But I'll talk about that later.

I decided that it was high time I left a review of the synth on KvR.  But when I went to do just that, I was stopped.  Apparently, you must have written 10 posts on their forums before you may have the honor of contributing to their database of reviews.

This made me see red.

I sent this email to them:

I love KVR.

I love it for the news and the reviews.

I HATE the forums.  Like any other on-line forum, it's just a bunch of people whining their opinions that I don't care to hear.

Why, then, should I be restricted from using the features that I *love* about KvR, if I refuse to contribute to that which I loathe?

Please re-think this policy.  It's lame.

Please join me in telling them that this policy is inane.

Pseudo-review: Esem's Scateren

Recently, I downloaded Scateren for a fourth time.

I like some parts of it... but very few.

I can't get behind this album, despite the fact that I've kept trying, over the period of several years.  I know esem; I have since the very beginning... even before he was known as esem (I can tell you where the name esem came from).  I've had many conversations with him (albeit online).  I love-love-love his music.  But not this album.

When I try to put my finger on why, I can only come up with vague impressions... it's too light, for one.  It's too chaotic, there aren't the same kind of themes that I got out of his earlier stuff.  It's too polite.  I can get past--nay, I enjoy--the redundancy in some of esem's music, but on this album, it just comes across as tedious and lacking inspiration. I can still understand why someone might find it soulful and expressive... but it just doesn't click with me, personally.

That said, I really can't wait until esem releases another album. (It's been far too long already!).  I still have full faith in him.  He has a magic touch, a unique style, and a talent for expression.


Songs with lyrics are very different from instrumental pieces.  It's an entirely different kind of experience.  Apples and oranges.  Ostensibly, they seem closely related, but no.  They're different beasts.

Singers form a relationship with listener.  ...This is, of course, why the singers in bands always get the most attention: it's the singer to whom we are relating, not the band.

Once that relationship is there, by the way, the music becomes secondary.  The first time I listened to NIN's With Teeth (the album, I mean), I thought it was boring and cheesy rock music.  ...But I have a long-standing relationship with Reznor, ever since Closer tempted me into buying an album that was way beyond my comfort zone, back in '94.
As a result, I gave the album a few chances, and soon it was like I was listening to an old friend.  The music didn't matter as much.  Of course, after a few more listens, it became an album that I couldn't stop listening to.  ...I went through a month of having that album on loop.

His new single (Discipline) appears to be doing the same thing for me, too.


Okay, truth be told: I am not a fan of Kraftwerk.  They're before my time, and I prefer the derivative works.

That said, I saw this post on how Kraftwerk concerts suck, and I couldn't disagree more (caveat: I've never been to one, 'cause I don't like the music).  Quote:

this is part of Kraftwerk's schtick - but people still want to see a show that kicks ass, and it just doesn't kick ass when it looks like the performers are checking their email!

That's like going to a pop art show at some museum and expecting to see beautiful paintings.  Yes, it's true that people want to see beautiful art... but

that's not the point.

Kraftwerk is making a statement, and from the sound of it, they do it perfectly.


[NP: 4 Ghosts 1, by Nine Inch Nails.  ...And, no, I don't really like this track.  The album is hit-or-miss, but I'm giving it a few chances before I cull the bits that don't work for me yet.  I don't think I'm supposed to like this track.  It's making a statement.]