Hobby vs. professional software creation


I thought VCV Rack kind of killed Softube Modular, but hey Clouds should be everywhere!

Clouds on Softube Modular?

There is quite a difference between a free, hobby project at release 0.6 and what a professional company can produce to sell. VCV is really impressive in many ways but my friends who are professional producers will keep using Softtube for the foreseeable future. :slight_smile:


I really would not call it a hobby project


VCV is open-source so I could have a look at the code. The code quality is high, if not higher than what I’ve seen on the other side of the fence in the “professional” software industry.


So, someone is trying to make a living out of developing VCV? Maybe I’m misinformed. :flushed:

Ok, that’s impressive. So everybody should really abandon Softube and go for VCV since VCV is better made?


Whether someone is trying to make a living out of it is irrelevant to the quality of the outcome.

Linux or Python were “hobby” projects too.

The criterion should be: do you need something that runs as a plug-in in a DAW or do you want a standalone environment? And how important to you is accurate modelling of the analog stuff?


In theory and certain cases, I agree fully. In practice and in general, hobby projects are quite often lacking refinement compared to commercial products. That’s my experience, anyway.

Good point.

I’m guessing you are saying that VCV has more accurate modelling, since it’s better made? :wink:


We obviously have a very different understanding of the term “hobby”


Which version of Clouds includes the hidden modes? VCV or Softube?


I’m not saying that to compare the quality of emulation of one versus the other, but because Softube puts more emphasis on the emulation of “classic” analog modules; while VCV provides a larger selection of digital modules.


Hobby is in contrast to professional, to me. If you are professional you are trying to make a living out of it.

Great things can come out of hobby projects but professional products generally has a higher lowest level, in my experience. I don’t think that’s a very controversial statement.


Hobbies don’t have deadlines, project plans and project managers to worry about.

You can be a good hobby coder who will be able to deliver a very high quality result with no pressure but a really bad commercial coder because you aren’t given the time to perfect your code.

Commercial software generally has more testing.


Sorry, but i must object here:
I do have to meet deadlines in hobby productions too, as i have to deal with record companies.
And no, commercial software mostly does not have more testing, as they have to meet deadlines - and this is my experience from my professional job…:thinking:
In my job i have to deal with open source stuff, which is more mature and has better support than some so-called professional stuff (like Veritas or such).


No it isn’t but it’s still just your personal opinion. Which is fine btw.

Now here’s the thing. making a living might be a relative thing. Do all pro software makers make a living out of it? Do all of them even have that as a goal? Is that really the sine qua non condition? Also, does open source really equate to hobby? If that is the case, do you think Mutable Instruments is a hobby endeavour?
In my book a hobby is something you do in what they call “spare time”. I.e. for some people, when they are done with the actual work that pays the bills, and they have put the kids to bed and done the dishes… then they sit down and build a ship in a bottle or rearrange their stamps collection or paint flowers on silk… That’s how I imagine being a hobby. It’s something you take out of the drawer to kill some time and then put back in when you’re done. Btw. it’s great to have a hobby, to have something you can do lightly, and easily and that nobody will really judge you for.
It’s not something that will haunt your dreams, keep you up all night, make you live off bread and water for weeks because whatever you’re doing isn’t paying your bills, but you just have to keep doing it (and it’s taking so many hours).
I mean, if paying your bills is the determining factor in your equation then the bi majority of musicians are just hobbyists. And maybe they are, if what you intend by hobby is something else than I do. Which is why I brought the terminology issue up in the first place.
There’s a lot of things which in my book are neither hobby nor a profession. Some of these might be what one hoped will become a profession one day, others are just what I’d call a passion (or obsession if you want). Then there’s side projects and learning experiements, and last but not least there’s many products that are free but ultimately make the user the product that is being sold.
Would you call Facebook a hobby endevour just because it’s free (ok I know I’m stretching it now… :smiley: )

But to get back to VCV rack, who said Andrew is not making any money with it? The main rack application is free, and some of the modules are as well, but some will cost you money.
Still this does not tell us much about it being a hobby or not. I know people who paint for a hobby and sell their paintings. I guess we’ll have to send Andrew a mail and ask him directly to be sure :slight_smile:


Well if you’re doing it for someone else’s benefit I’d say that’s not really a hobby.

As for testing, depends on the organisation. I’ve always worked places with a test team and there’s been all manner of test plans etc. Many people do TDD now, where testing is part of the coding process.


In my definition of the words: Yes, yes, the condition for being professional is that you do make a living out of it, no and no, Mutable Instruments is a professional endeavor since Olivier is trying and is making a living out of it.

So to you a hobby is something you do for leisure and only for yourself, never for other to benefit from? I do not share that view. Music is a hobby to me but I share my tracks. Using modulars is a hobby to me but I share my tips and tricks. Etc.

No doubt.

Yeah, I work at a software company and the view put forth by some in this thread that there are harsh deadlines in this type of company pushing the developers to release bad, untested code is absolutely alien to me.

The goals and deadlines in our company and others I’ve worked at/with is ultimately set by the developers themselves. And no one at our company would ever release any code without a pull request and proper testing. Our product is making us a huge profit and we have millions of customers, we would never risk any of that by releasing sloppy code.

I’ve used tons of free software over the years. From music oriented stuff (I started out with Protracker and went on to Jeskola Buzz when I switched platforms, numerous VSTs and so on) to more mundane tools (like Open Office and such). I guess I have a different experience from some of you. In my experience the free stuff has been really good for what they are and some even great but the average level of the professionally made tools, for me as a user, has by far exceed the free stuff. Since I started working in tech companies it has become obvious to me why this is the case.


of course I was just teasing you :slight_smile:

the answer would be yes and no. Yes you do it mostly (or exclusively) for yourself, but that doesn’t mean you don’t share it. There’s many reasons to share something you do just as a hobby: from needing third-party confirmation, plain and simple ego-boosting, to just wanting to share something so others can benefit from it.
I think what makes a hobby in my opinion is mostly the fact that you can “switch” it on and off as you like.
The moment you start to set goals, give priority to it over other things, make sacrifices to be able to do it etc. I starts to be something else.
Why do I even think that this point is important (and spend time on typing it out?). Because I think it’s something that touches us all in some way. I guess most of us here are not professional musicians, and still, many won’t just do it as a plain hobby. The word hobby doesn’t give justice to the sometimes great musical qualities that can emerge in music made for reasons that have nothing to do with making a living.
And the same thing can be said about some software.

Also I think the whole software discussion should be articulated around 3 core concepts. 1. hobby/passion/profession 2. free as in beer software / paid software and 3. free as in freedom software and proprietary software. The three can align in some ways or others.
Blender is a good example. It’s free to download, won’t cost you a cent. Still I’d call commercial software, even if it’s open source, because they have a business model that lets them make money out of it. Would I call it a hobby project? Not really, though some of the developers involved probably are doing it for a hobby, but the core team isn’t. How does it compare to other packages? Haven’t had much experience with Maya, but for my use I find it better than Cinema 4D and the likes. Actually I’m always amazed at how great Blender is. It’s part of some of my workflows and I am making a living out of it (though of course I am not making CG graphics for Hollywood films, just the occasional product render).

Then of course I know your feeling very well. There’s a huge lot of open source software that totally lacks polish and refinement (currently being frustrated like hell with Pd). Would I use Gimp over Photoshop? Or Scribus over Indesign? Never! But I can’t switch to Affinity Designer either (which is a proprietary, commercial package) because it lacks in several departments. Some software has an edge also because it’s been around for ages and has defined the way the industry works (certainly the case with Adobe).

And now I’ll stop bother all of you with my brain dumps, promise!


Craftmanship is a big word in professional software development now. Some employers want to see a github account or want to know about contributions to open source. They expect too much I think, people do have a family to spend time with :slight_smile:


Let me guess… your company is not making audio production software :smiley:


Many interesting points has been put forth in this discussion. I truly appreciate that. :slight_smile:

Yeah. To me the word hobby isn’t negative in any way. It’s just something you do in your spare time.

However, you have a good point. It has become almost impossible to make a living from being a composer/producer of music these days. That means that the implications of the word “professional”, according to my definition, when it comes to making music has changed even if the definition has stayed the same. This needs addressing. There are people with lashings of skill and dedication not being able to make a living out of it today that would have been professional producers 20 years ago.

Don’t! Your thoughts are interesting. :brain:

Haha, true. :blush: Not a tough estimation though since only trace amounts of all software companies are into audio production. :wink: Based on “millions of customers” and “huge profit” (well, define “huge”) I could have been referring to Ableton, for example.