The subscription thread

This is going to be controversial, maybe, but given that we are now getting closer to a 2.1 release I think it’s important to share something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. But first, a little background…

Rekord Buddy is my only source of income. It’s not a hobby or something I do on the side, it’s my one and only job. Rekord Buddy 1.0 came out in 2012. I didn’t expect it to be as big as it became, at first I was even distributing it for free. But as things picked up I realized that the app needed improvements in its workflow so I stopped all work on other projects and started working on 2.0. Releasing this took me all the way to 2016 and it seems like as soon as it was out, I was swallowed by the black hole of porting the code over to Windows and eventually into what is about to become 2.1.

Seven years… phew… I’m loving doing this and I work really hard at it but this has not been a money maker at this point in any way shape or form. The app generates income but that also has to pay for extra developers, trade shows that I demo the app at, servers and hosting cost for development, etc… If I am to continue doing this, I need to change the way I’m approaching the licensing model to make it sustainable (and profitable).

The current 2.0 app sells for $59.99. It’s a lifetime license to any 2.x versions and can be used on up to two computers. For the 2.1 release, I’m thinking of changing the licensing to a subscription for new purchases. In return, I plan on organizing the releases a lot better so that everyone gets new features on a more regular basis (the groundwork I’ve been painfully laying for 2.1 will make this possible). Basically if someone uses the app and enjoys it, then they are supporting its development by their subscription. It’s the way everything is going because it’s the only way to make it make sense financially for a indie developer like me.

So here is the plan I’m considering right now, feel free to comment below and share your thoughts:

  • A subscription costs $49.99 initially, down $10 from the current price for the 2.x license.
  • I provide updates with new features for the app every 2 months. Subscribers get a say into what gets worked on next and get all the updates for as long as they subscribe.
  • After one year, if you still use and like the app, you can renew for another year for $29.99. A reminder email is sent to make sure you get a chance to cancel before the renewal take place (not trying to trick anyone into renewing here but the system I plan on using only supports auto-renewal so the emails will help).
  • Existing 2.0 customers retain their lifetime license and the 2.x branch keeps receiving updates for one year after 2.1 ships. One year after 2.1 ships, the app switches to 3.x which will only be available to subscribers.
  • Existing 2.0 users can choose to switch a subscription when 3.0 ships at the renewal price of $29.99.

And that’s the gist of it. I know this will make some of you grumble but I think the app is pretty useful, it’s about to become even more useful and I think this is a better to do something like this than to stop working on the app because I can’t make a reasonable living off it.

So, what do you guys think?

2 Likes

I dig it. Its less than $5 a month, which anyone should be able to swing pretty easily.

Sounds fair to me :+1:

Seems like you are making it a touch complicated for yourself. There is a proven model for SaaS in monthly recurring subscriptions. I’d implement that model if possible. Charge a low, monthly subscription cost. Offer subscribers a slight discount if they pay annually vs monthly. Put everyone on an automatic, recurring payment plan. Most people will forget about this so even if they aren’t using the app you are still making money. You could/should offer your existing users a reduced subscription or limited time, free subscription since we bought the app under a lifetime license model. I feel like most DJs would be good paying $5/month or $60/year for a program that saves them so much time. Sounds like you are on that track but want to share my thoughts.

bgravel is spot on. This is a standard model if you’re going to do the recurring thing - yours seemed a bit complicated.

I also agree with the point regarding existing customers. I (and many others) purchased this “outright” but have in many cases been unable to use to its expected potential due to bugs and/or features that have yet to work fully.

Given the fact that we have helped fund this software’s development to this point it’s only right that we are not forced to fork out more money so soon.

2 Likes

Let me also add that not everyone is going to use this week in and week out and so a subscription model may not suit everyone - me included. At the moment I use it once a month max for various reasons (also because of bugs that limit my use of it). Also, not everybody lives in a first world country. I live in South Africa - $5 a month is a lot more money down here.

2 Likes

Those a great points. Let me try to address them.

Most of those models offer a cheaper annual subscription vs monthly. My plan is exactly like that but there would only be an annual subscription. The main reason for not doing monthly at $5 would be that some people would pay one month to convert their library and then cancel. While that’s convenient for them, it doesn’t work for me as a model.

So the current plan would be for current users to not have to renew until one year after the official release of 2.1. Is that too soon in your mind? To me that’s similar to what would happened if there was no subscriptions and I was to release 3.0 a year from now (for example).

A post was merged into an existing topic: Traktor library: nothing happens

Full respect for your work.
Please do any financial adjustments necessary for you to continue working full time for your users.

No doubt.
This tells me that what you call 2.1 is actually 3.0.
Even if there is not so many new features compared to 2.0, the massive internal rewrite justifies existing users paying an upgrade price again.

This is exactly why I don’t like subscriptions in general. Eventough this project definitely deserves it.
As mentioned, please do any changes necessary for this project to survive.

Let me see if the subscription system can be set to be opt-in only for the renewals. I can also provide users with a pop up window in the app if their subscription is about to run out and they haven’t set it to renew.

I think you should increase price as much as needed to afford to have this as your main source of income, hire additional devs and support staff (to actually have real time support) and deliver the features on your roadmap in near future. I would pay $10/mo for this if it worked - however i wasn’t even able to complete the purchase flow because there’s a bug…

Thanks for the feedback. I don’t think this app will ever be the kind to generate enough revenue to hire multiple devs. A good software developer is a 6 figure salary at the very least (in US dollars) so multiple of those would cost a crazy amount of money for what the app actually makes in revenue. It wouldn’t make sense and we haven’t even added support staff yet.

Regarding the payment bug, I’ve asked for help in trying to diagnose this but nobody stepped up so I’m kinda stuck. I can’t debug something that is not happening on my end, especially if I have no record of the transactions :frowning:

I think what really clinches it for me with subscriptions is that it takes me away from the pressure of growth. With one time purchases, I have to keep hunting down new customers in order to stay in business. The number of people I have to support keeps on growing. This is a dangerous spiral that I don’t think is a good idea for a small developer. If I don’t find enough new people, the app shuts down and everyone suffers (including people who still enjoyed it up until that point).

If I have subscriptions, even with a smaller number of customers, the app can continue to live and I don’t have to chase down growth just to stay in business. To me that’s the most important part in all this.

Growth, and more importantly the need for it, is a major reason for a lot of the messed up economics of capitalism. I think staying away from that is a good call.

If everything goes well, subscriptions will kick in next week

Existing 2.x users will continue to receive updates for one year and will get a chance to upgrade to subscriptions for just the renewal price when that period expires, just like any subscription user.

After that year, 2.x will be supported for another year and 2.x users will receive bug fixes but new features will only be available for subscription users.

Will Windows version and Engine support roll out before this switches over to a subscription based model?

No. Subscriptions will start sept 1st but anyone with an existing license will still be able to use any updates for one year after that.

I meant by September 1st 2020.

You’re asking me to commit and I’ve learned never to do that again.

I would say it’s highly likely.

Subscriptions are live. I added a new FAQ post here which I will update as we go along.