Some thoughts regarding the subscription model, where I would like to express the kind of things I would be willing to pay for. Sorry in advance for the long post.
This is coming from somebody that hates the idea of renting my device (the device loses functionality once I stop paying) or software licence subscriptions (the software cannot longer be used once I stop paying). I am also an enthusiast, playing some music for myself, not an intensive user, so I am here for the long run. If my device is not usable without subscription, I would probably not invest in trying to master it, and write it off and store it somewhere or resell it. Such an approach is not for me.
The kind of subscription model I would support includes:
- I get some feature in advance (e.g. early (earlier) upgrade (*), exclusive access to new (opensource) plugin in the store), e.g. 3-6 months
- I get some feature in exclusivity (e.g. curated pedalboard of the month, 6 months before it becomes accessible to all)
- I get access to some cloud service (e.g. pedalboard sharing (but not the plugin store, which is a core functionality), a temporary 1-month full access to a paid-for highlight-plugin-of-the-month (e.g. to give opportunity to try some new paid-for plugin, the plugin is selected by the company, not choosable by each user))
- I get some small incentive (e.g. 5-10% discount on plugin store, maybe )
Possibly other non-essential (virtual) goodies or privileges, that cost nothing to the company, that are not depriving others from essential functionality (e.g. some premium access to whatever, some insigna besides the forum name to show the active subscription, have a right to vote for some community polls regarding future priorities, etc). Maybe some giveback mechanism to reward long-term subscribers (e.g. after 12 months of continuous active subscription, 1 coupon worth 1-month subscription as plugin store discount).
Once I get access to something, I should never be deprived of it in the future (e.g. if one month, you decide to offer a premium plugin to subscribers, then that plugin is now mine). Of course, this would not apply to access to cloud service or such thing, which would of course be disabled. Basically, any upgrade (plugin, software, etc) I got during subscription should be still working after 5-10 years of having stored the device in a box.
As you can see anyway, most of what I propose is about “early access”, i.e. non-paying users will eventually get access, but would have to wait. Also, regarding exclusive access to an open-source plugin, the poor-but-wanting user could still get it off the github repo, possibly without the nice skin at first, so it is more for getting it conveniently directly from the plugin store.
(*) Regarding core functionality upgrades (i.e. new releases) with exclusive access: this means having to maintain 2 branches (the “free” upgrades, with just bug fixes, and the “premium” upgrade, the “premium” becoming the free branch after a while, and a new premium being put in place - premium may include “beta” access as well). In itself, this is adds also trouble, beside doubling the maintenance, as the beta users will be limited to subscribers. Also, plugins cannot rely on new functionality being present in all devices (it is less a problem if such plugins are also exclusive to the subscribers for the same period).
I am aware that some of this functionality would require development (especially user rights management) to be put in place, so it is not really easy at first, but maybe it can be developed over time. At the same time, it should be able to provide a steady income without much more investment than what was done until now.
PS. One example of subscription model that works for me is Humble Bundle’s: I get free games every month (even though there is generally only 0-1 game that I’d care to try, at most, and often actually, I already own these ones ) and a discount that rewards my long-term loyalty (increased discount after a few months of continuous subscription). If I stop subscribing for a month and restarts the next, I lose the long-term bonus, and even though most games are not quite interesting to me, I’ll never know if next month’s rewards are useful, therefore, I have an incentive not to put my subscripion on hold. In MOD case, there is even the incentive that this helps the company to stay afloat. That is, if the subscription is not too high, keeping the subscription alive even at times where it brings little benefit is rewarding.