Why should I pay for an open-source app?

I recently made the decision to start charging $2 for my open-source app, SoundSeer. This was a tough choice for me; after all, why should someone pay for something they can get for free?

What’s in it for you

The core value proposition of SoundSeer is that it lets you see what’s playing on Spotify without distracting you from your work. As I mentioned, this app is open-source, so you can get it for free. But think about the value of your time.

You have to:

  • Download the code
  • Open a Spotify Developer account and get an API key
  • Build from source
  • Manually update when changes are made, because updates are managed by the App Store

Suppose you’re really good, and you can do this in 5 minutes. If you make at least $25 an hour, and you value your time as such, you’re basically losing money.

In addition, you get the pride of knowing that you support open-source software and indie developers. (And I’m not blowing smoke. I truly believe this is important.)

What’s in it for me

Since I’m charging money for the app, clearly one of the benefits is that I receive money. But that’s not my primary motivation for doing so. I want to validate my idea. Does SoundSeer truly add value to someone’s life? Once I start charging for it, the truth will become abundantly clear. This does scare me a bit, but I recognize that the pursuit of truth will make me a better developer.

The ask

I’d like you to give SoundSeer a try. If you’re not happy, I will approve any refund request that comes my way.

However, I hope this also inspires a larger conversation about supporting things that matter. If you think open source and indie developers are important, I strongly encourage you to vote with your wallet.


2 responses to “Why should I pay for an open-source app?”

  1. Charge more. I think you could charge $4.

    1. Jonathan Garelick Avatar
      Jonathan Garelick

      Thank you for the feedback, Matt! Someone else mentioned this too. I think I will see how the first month goes and re-evaluate.

      Apple Music support is coming soon, so I think think that will make it even more compelling.

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