Indie VST Developer Expectations


You make some good points. I guess the reason I asked, is because sometimes I feel like the best outcome that comes from talking to other entrepreneurs is that we learn what not to do, and we learn how accept our pessimism about our outcomes.

I wish that there was also a focus on building the kind of infrastructure that could change things for our industry. You mentioned that we don’t have an app store. But the reality is that there is nothing stopping us from building an app store. There is nothing stopping us from forming some kind of alliance to pool together our marketing efforts and focusing them in one place so that we build a large community of devoted customers.

This would be an incredible achievement for the audio development community.


The KVR marketplace is a fairly open general store that’s easy to get into, Avid has closed and focused store that has barriers to entry, and there are others falling somewhere in between. So I think there is quite a wide range of stores really. What there isn’t is something with a monopoly like Apple’s store on iOS because this is an open ecosystem with a wide variety of platforms and formats, which I think is usually considered to be a good thing.


I’ve used the KVR forums, but have never seen the marketplace before. It seems interesting.

But I don’t think its for me, personally. Everyone here acknowledges that there is saturation in our industry, yet we keep creating the same plugins, using the same kinds of branding, and targetting the same small group of music nerds. I’m a music dork too, but I prefer to cater to the non-dorks. If somebody knows KVR, then chances are they don’t need my software. They’ve probably already installed a thousand other tools.

It just makes more sense to me to search for fresh people and create a new community out of them. That’s my opinion anyway, and I’m gonna give it a go in 2019. I’m either going to hit it big or go down in flames spectacularly. Should be fun. lol.


Don’t conflate need and want. It’s incumbent on us to make interesting and exciting products that people want, and helps them do things a little bit better. I don’t need interesting tasty food to survive any more than a competent producer needs much more than what comes as stock in many DAWs these days but it sure makes mealtimes less boring to keep an eye out for something new. It’s all about capturing the imagination and making something so exciting people want it, whether that’s down to acoustics, graphics, marketing or psychology. If they’re excited they’re motivated, and they’ll create better work. Music production for most people is fun, interesting and exciting. We have a massive role to play in making sure that it is with our skill and imagination.


We all have our own perspectives on this matter. And perhaps I simply came from a different background and past experiences. I was always self-taught as a producer and songwriter because I was under parental pressure to get a “real education” and a “real job”. So I had my struggles with learning what tools I actually needed and how to use them.

And there was a significant lowpoint where I felt disillusioned. On the one hand, my prospective manager, booking agent and record label put extraordinary pressure on me to develop my style and skills before they would officially sign me. And the industry expects an artist to literally push themselves to the brink of poverty just to show how dedicated they are.

And on the other hand, I was often bombarded with exciting marketing campaigns of the hot new tool that had just come out. Each time, I would be filled a sense of excitement that this new one would get me one closer to the finish line in my journey as an artist/producer. But all that happened was that my wallet got lighter. And I felt really let down. I would have been fine with spending all those thousands of dollars on plugins and gear. But I just wished I had been able to make the choice based on accurate information instead of feeling like I had been tricked into thinking that owning 10 different EQs would somehow give my music more credibility or whatever it was I was thinking.

I have been lucky enough to be involved in many aspects of the industry including DJ, singer, and nightclub promoter, and as an entreprenueur I talk to a lot of people. And my experience is that music production is fun only for people who are able to achieve some kind of progress in a reasonable period of time. But developers in our field seem to be indifferent to this. The interfaces are hard to learn for beginners. And even when you learn what the knobs do, developing a style is hard. But nobody seems to care about these real issues that would solve a lot of people’s problems. People out there are craving some basic meat and potatoes and everyone is serving up pizza.


It feels as though you think there is a long way to go with UI design. With your insights there perhaps this is an area you can focus on, advance the field, and develop your USP.


Yeah its a passion of mine and so far I’ve put about 2 years and $200k into my current project. The official release will be about July 2019 and thankfully I’ve been able to convince some cool people to continue funding me.


Agile development with early releases (without all the features for some beta testers) and fast user feedback is also something that helps to create a great product.
I often end up with a total different product than planned. I think such flexibility is one of the strengths that indie developers have and should use.


lol that means they weren’t willing to spend money because they wouldn’t make a return on their investment!


Spend money on what? Production? I’m a solo DJ/Producer. It’s up to me to get it done. And by the way, I was pulling 1000+ people a night at my gigs. On our best night me and my business partners made 6 grand profit. And I had 2 of my remixes played on BBC Radio by Kissy Sellout in 2009 and 2010 respectively; all this without any direct support from industry connections. Don’t assume that you know all nuances of the industry. Some things take time, and there’s politics involved.


they spend money on promotion, artwork, the tours and getting your songs in front of the appropriate people at radio stations so you get airplay. at least, that’s how it works in the US. no idea about the rest of the world.

No one’s coming for you, not sure why you got defensive…


Well when you respond with a comment that essentially implies “hahaha it’s because your music was shit,” then I think I have a right of rebuttal. Especially since your comment displays an attitude of indifference towards artists in general. The point of my earlier comment was to say, maybe we should care more about the experiences of artists and producers who will use our tools. And ironically, you came up with a narrative to dismiss everything I was talking about regarding my experiences as an artist, before even bothering to ask for clarifying details or context. Which is pretty indicative of the problem in our industry.

Yes people spend money on promotion, artwork, radio stations etc. But I was a bootleg remixer and I didn’t have my own consistent style or sound or persona or original songs. When one of our country’s top booking agents personally called me on the phone to say she might sign me in the next several months, and asks me to have 30 minutes worth of songs as well as collaborating with a prominent local artist on two of my songs, it is not a sign that she thinks she “wouldn’t make a return on her investment”. It means that there was no album to sell, and no show ready for touring.


I agree with this. Though I’ve got to say that finding/selecting the right beta testers is an artform all of itself! Its a decision that could have a butterfly-effect, really. Pick really helpful and articulate people and you will benefit greatly. But if you get people who pander to you, or who are overly negative about everything you can end up going round in circles on your project.


I can agree with it for any pre-release phases, but I think first impressions with potential customers are extremely important and a product needs to represent itself well (i.e. fully formed) on first presentation. People tend to form an opinion about a version 1.0 product that is extremely difficult to change even with major version updates. The people that care about your deltas are generally the people that gave you money already.


I have 3 for the last 2 years and they are worth 500 testers.


@ncthom Nice looking plugin GUI’s. Thanks for the info. I’ll check out in depth when I get more time.

@crandall1 when you say no DRM in your plugins, does that mean you don’t need any license key? Do you have X day trials of your plugins? What’s your website?


Do you have any recommendations / best practices on license key activation for an audio plugin (VST)? I want to provide a 30 day trial with no limitations.

I read the JUCE tutorial, was thinking to try a different method than JUCE for license key management/activation. Leaning towards buy VS build. Also, the JUCE Tutorial doesn’t mention how to make it work for X days, or how to hook the backend site up to email users the actual license keys… or any mention of license keys, just public & private keys:

Was looking into FastSping for payments, seems to be the most common payment processor for the plugins I personally use.

My short list of DRM license companies:


You can get a lightweight license management tool from Pace without going for the whole code protection suite. It can support any of their dongle, computer or cloud authorisation location options. You don’t have to go for for the in-depth code protection service. This has the advantage of being widely used in the audio community already, and despite occasional user push-back (which you’ll get as soon as anybody is remotely inconvenienced by whatever you select) it is in my opinion a very good service.


Pace don’t show pricing online, you have to contact them. Makes me think they don’t want to deal with small one man show indi developers.


They deal with plenty of those.