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small percentage of each sale turns into some serious coin when the number of app purchases gets into the billions. This system can benefit some app makers as well. It’s brilliant for companies whose products manage to reach truly widespread audiences, like Angry Birds. It can work out well for companies selling apps that start out cheap but have in-app purchases that “invisibly” add to their bottom line. You can even make money on free apps if they connect to a paid service that enough people want; the classic example there is Evernote, which gives away its app for free but charges a monthly fee for its cloud-based storage. But if you’re in a niche market like, for example, music recording and production, where is the sheer volume to support even a small software firm? There isn’t any. That makes a profitable business model really hard to find, if you insist on following the prevailing wisdom that people will instinctively shy away from an app, any app, that costs more than ten bucks or so. Here’s a news flash: apps are no easier or cheaper to develop, maintain, support, improve, or sell than any other software program. Knowing several
Editorial by Mike Metlay
Music Apps: When The Prevailing Wisdom Is Stupid
Recently I was browsing the App Store on my iPad and found a product page for a promising music app that I felt might be review-worthy. I noted that while the vast majority of buyer ratings were 5s and 4s, there were a significant number of 1s as well, so I took a quick look at the criticisms to see what people were upset about. I was stunned to see that while the product did in fact offer fantastic features that worked just as advertised and with exceptional convenience and elegance, its critics were upset by its exorbitant cost. One went as far as to say that he considered himself to have been “completely ripped off” and that the app should have only cost half of what it did. The app in question cost $9.99. This fellow was saying he thought it only deserved to cost $4.99, and that extra five-dollar expenditure was a symbolic defilement of his poor wallet. Please pardon my salty language, but... What the f#*%? Really? I’m sorry, but if people are crying “highway robbery” over margins of a few dollars, the musicapp purchasing public needs a bucket of ice water down its collective shorts. The App Store has been a tremendous success for the same reason the iTunes Store has; products on offer there are easy to simply buy on the spot, because there’s not a lot of worry involved in the purchasing process. A click, a password, a little money out of your account, done. And I do mean a little money... a dollar, or two or three, sometimes five, rarely ten. The system as a whole works well because each individual app purchase represents a painlessly small loss of cash, and it’s only when those purchases add up that we get the really big numbers. That’s great news for Apple, whose
RECORDING January 2013
app developers and the torture they go through every time a new iOS upgrade destroys their apps, I would even argue that the rapid growth and evolution of iOS actually makes their jobs harder than those of people writing programs or plug-ins for Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux. Virtually no iOS music app sells for more than fifty dollars, yet buyers of commercial plug-ins think of products at that price as “inexpensive”. Do you see the disconnect here?
In no other part of the music technology industry can the distance from “merely average” to “the best in the world” be bridged with so little cash.
People that sell apps often do it as a hobby (not quitting their day jobs), or in concert with more expensive hardware or software products that represent their real profit stream, simply because there’s no other way to make ends meet. It’s a brave app maker who stands up and says, “My app is worth twenty or thirty or even fifty dollars”; he may get nothing but criticism in return, even if the app is worth that much or more. You can break this cycle, and I’d argue that you should. If you can bring yourself to look away from the prevailing wisdom for a second, you can see that the rules of the game for selling music apps are the same as for any other product. The seller asks for what he thinks the market will bear; the buyer votes with his wallet. Products that give quality performance are a good value even if they’re more costly; products that don’t are a bad value even if they save you money on the front end. When you’re shopping for apps, don’t be that person who drives all over town to find the gas station that charges two cents less per gallon! Keep in mind that the price difference between a “costly” app and a “not costly” app is rarely more than ten dollars and never more than forty. You’d barely blink at adding forty dollars to any other music expenditure—a mic, an interface, a plug-in—if you were assured that the extra money would get you a significantly better product, right? In no other part of the music technology industry can the distance from “merely average” to “the best in the world” be bridged with so little cash. So why not make the jump and support the people writing the absolute best apps around, even if it means skipping a trip to the fast-food restaurant tomorrow? Mike Metlay (email@example.com) is Associate Editor of Recording.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - January 2013
Recording - January 2013
Table of Contents
2012 AES Convention Report.
Universal Audio Apollo.
ADAM Audio F5 and F7 Monitors.
Earthworks ZDT 1022 Mic Preamp.
Trident HG3 Close Field Monitoring System.
AKG K702 65th Anniversary Edition Headphones.
Grace Design m903 Reference Headphone Amplifier.
Monitors & Monitoring.
Lauten Atlantis FC-387 Condenser Microphone.
Recording Fundamentals. Chapter 13: Monitors Part 2.
PreSonus BlueTube DP V2.
Getting Into Your Head.
Shure SE215 Sound Isolating Earphones.
iOS Music Tools: Last-Minute Audio Gifts!
Sennheiser HD800 Headphones.
2012 Annual Index.
Recording - January 2013 - Recording - January 2013
Recording - January 2013 - Cover2
Recording - January 2013 - 1
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Recording - January 2013 - Fade In.
Recording - January 2013 - 5
Recording - January 2013 - Table of Contents
Recording - January 2013 - 7
Recording - January 2013 - Talkback.
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Recording - January 2013 - 2012 AES Convention Report.
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Recording - January 2013 - Universal Audio Apollo.
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Recording - January 2013 - 22
Recording - January 2013 - 23
Recording - January 2013 - ADAM Audio F5 and F7 Monitors.
Recording - January 2013 - 25
Recording - January 2013 - Earthworks ZDT 1022 Mic Preamp.
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Recording - January 2013 - Trident HG3 Close Field Monitoring System.
Recording - January 2013 - 29
Recording - January 2013 - AKG K702 65th Anniversary Edition Headphones.
Recording - January 2013 - 31
Recording - January 2013 - 32
Recording - January 2013 - 33
Recording - January 2013 - Grace Design m903 Reference Headphone Amplifier.
Recording - January 2013 - 35
Recording - January 2013 - Monitors & Monitoring.
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Recording - January 2013 - 38
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Recording - January 2013 - Lauten Atlantis FC-387 Condenser Microphone.
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Recording - January 2013 - Recording Fundamentals. Chapter 13: Monitors Part 2.
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Recording - January 2013 - PreSonus BlueTube DP V2.
Recording - January 2013 - 45
Recording - January 2013 - Getting Into Your Head.
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Recording - January 2013 - Shure SE215 Sound Isolating Earphones.
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Recording - January 2013 - Readers’ Tapes.
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Recording - January 2013 - iOS Music Tools: Last-Minute Audio Gifts!
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Recording - January 2013 - Sennheiser HD800 Headphones.
Recording - January 2013 - Advertiser Index.
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Recording - January 2013 - 2012 Annual Index.
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Recording - January 2013 - Fade Out.
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