Shamisen Notation App

Hi all! Hello all! Quick intro: I’m a software developer, shamisen enthusiast, and occasional creator of bachi. I have been working with Kyle on and off (sorry for all the “off” parts, @Kyle_Abbott!) for a while trying to build a shamisen notation editor. I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough recently and have begun to get serious about it. I’m trying to figure out a distribution/usage model for the editor.

There are options for both online and offline experiences. For both online and offline experiences, there will be apps for Mac, Windows and probably iPad. Online will also include a web app. For online, all data will be 100% private and will be stored fully encrypted so no one but you will have access to your notations (not even site admins). Notations will be shared between all of your devices automatically. You can download any or all of your notations (both as PDF and raw data) at any time, so there will be no long-term lock-in. Note that for all experiences, there will be no public sharing of files because of copyright considerations (although there is nothing that would stop you from downloading your notations and sharing them on your own).

The reality is, unfortunately, that none if this free. For online experiences there will be server/hosting costs, and I will have to pay once a year developer fees for development/distribution on Apple devices even if I only do an offline app. So, how does this stuff get paid for? Well, I was hoping all of you could help me figure that part out. Here are the choices I am looking at to cover my costs:

  1. Online. Monthly and yearly subscriptions. My goal would be to keep the cost for this as low as possible, probably something like $2 per month (paid monthly) or $15 per year (paid yearly). The big advantage of charging a regular, small monthly fee is that it scales cleanly with the number of users. As more users use the apps and server costs go up, so does the amount of money coming in to cover those costs. This income guarantee enables me to offer the richest experience (fully connected, automatic sharing between devices, and a web app).
  2. Online. Kickstarter or GoFundMe campaign once a year to cover developer fees and monthly server costs for a year. Note: This has some risks for me since I don’t have any numbers to estimate server costs or number of users. If I guess wrong the project could run out of money before the year is up and end up paying out of pocket.
  3. Online. 100% tip based (via Both one time and monthly Patreon-style subscriptions available. Pay what you think the site is worth whenever you want to pay. Again, there’s risk for me here if no one will tip and I’ll end up covering costs out of pocket.
  4. Offline (no sharing across devices and no web app). Small one time fee for the app (something like $3 to $5) to pay yearly developer expenses.

I’m not going to be making wads of cash from any of these choices, by the way. Even with the monthly/yearly subscription, I’m guessing after transaction fees the money will just cover my yearly developer fees plus server costs. My preferred method is probably option #1, but I really like the idea of running everything off of a tip jar (option #3). Not 100% sure about this, though. My gut tells me that #3 will either work well or fail spectacularly.

Here’s a quick poll so you can vote for the choice you think will work best. Thanks in advance for the feedback!

  • Online. Monthly and yearly subscriptions.
  • Online. Yearly Kickstarter or GoFundMe campaign.
  • Online. 100% tip based.
  • Offline. One time fee.
  • Something else. (Leave me a comment with your idea!)

0 voters

(I’m going to crosspost this on the bachido discord, so sorry for the duplication. Not sure what the crossover is between these two audiences.)

If it helps to know why I voted the way I did, I chose “offline” because I do not use my phone or tablet for music notation purposes. My phone screen is too small to be of practical use and my laptop offers a better viewing experience and more flexibility and power than my tablet.

More importantly, I don’t want to be in yet another situation where I need wi-fi 24/7 to use a program.

Oh. Maybe I should make that a little clearer. There will be dedicated, downloadable Mac and Windows apps in all cases. My plan is to make them work offline even if there are servers and a website. You can just opt to not sign in and only use storage on your Mac (that’s actually the way it works now and I plan to keep it that way), or if you temporarily don’t have a connection, you can work with local versions and changes will be uploaded when you’re back online.

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That’s the plan at least. There’s a lot of work to be done between here and there. :sweat_smile:

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:+1: from a Windows user :slightly_smiling_face:

I really hope this comes to fruition. Lilypond and JapoScore have a HIGH learning curve and limitations, and I’ve despaired of musescore ever incorporating shamisen notation.

Great to ear about your software ! :smiley:

So if I understand well.
There is an option for just having the app without subscribing every month ?
I would go for this option.

If you combine the results of the two polls (this one and the one on discord), it look like about half want a fully online version and half want a fully offline version. :sweat_smile:

So, I may combine options 1 and 4 (plus a little bit of 3). The app would run offline by default with an option to add online capabilities plus web app via subscription.

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