3 May 2015

Clarifying A Few Points About Vocal 2.0 and Our Fundraising Campaign

Hi, everyone! Nathan here. I’m the lead developer for Vocal. In case you didn’t know, I kicked off a crowdfunding campaign for the project a few days ago. I wanted to take this opportunity to clear up some questions and make a few statements in regards to some of the questions and comments I’ve received in the past few days.

Where’s the money going? Isn’t $14,000 too much?

On our IndieGoGo page I mentioned that all costs so far have been funded out of pocket. This past year I’ve spent somewhere between $200-$300 on the project through things like domain registration, website hosting and bandwidth, and a few (very small) donations to people that have helped us with design work or code in some way.

First and foremost, if we meet our goal the money will be used to pay those costs for the upcoming year(s). We also want to pay our designers and other contributors more money. They’ve done great work, and they deserve to be compensated.

Although that’s top priority, that’s obviously not where the bulk of the money will be going. I plan to quit my primary job and focus on open source development semi full-time. Vocal 1.0 took well over a year to create. I genuinely spent hundreds of hours on it, entirely unpaid.

Vocal 2.0 has some huge features planned that will also take hundreds of hours, probably even more than 1.0 did. Adding a new podcast directory with search support, and baking it in to work seamlessly with the rest of your library, is a giant undertaking. Device syncing is also a monumental effort. These are really important features, but they will take a ton of work. The only way I can get a great product out in a reasonable amount of time is to focus on it nearly full time.

So, here’s the exact breakdown of the $14,000 goal:

$14,000 - 4% IndieGoGo fee - costs to operate the campaign = ~$12,000 remaining

That’s $1000 per month for me to live on for one year. When you figure in rent of ~$500/month, phone/internet/electricity bills of around ~200/month, that just leaves $300 for groceries, fuel, insurance, and other expenses. It really is the absolute bare minimum for me to live.

Keep in mind that that goal is below minimum wage in my home state of Tennessee, USA. This isn’t a get rich quick scheme. I’m not filling my bathtub with cash (although I think I would look cool in a monocle and top hat). I’m just wanting a decent meal and a place to sleep while I work on something that I am truly, truly passionate about.

Isn’t $14,000 too much for a podcast app? Podcast apps are pretty simple.

Podcast apps are not remotely simple to design and develop. There are so many pieces that fit together. It’s like an RSS feed reader app + a music player + a video player + library management all put together and talking to each other, and that’s only for 1.0. In 2.0 we’re adding a lot of complexity by communicating with multiple APIs and providers, tons of new UI design and implementation work, and an unholy amount of testing. We want Vocal to work as well on as many Linux distros as possible, and that means individually testing and tweaking the code on each and every one of them. Plus packaging it for each distribution. That’s not to mention the amount of testing needed to ensure the new Android + iOS + multiple desktop sync works as it should.

Also, keep in mind that $14,000 is actually pretty low for a podcast app. The only truly modern desktop podcasts apps that I’m aware of are Instacast and Downcast (both on Mac OS X), and both cost $9.99.

If you assume that the same number of people who downloaded Vocal over the past two weeks bought just one of them, then that app would have already made $20,000.

I’m not asking for $10 from every user (although I think Vocal is worth $10). I’m just asking for people who like the project to give what they can ($1, $2, $5, $20- anything) and help support the project. Small donations add up, and each one is appreciated greatly!

Are You Still Working on Birdie? If you get funded, what will your schedule look like?

Yes! Absolutely. I’m starting to put the final plans together and I intend to begin actual work in the next two or three weeks.

As I said in our IGG profile, I will be developing these apps completely full-time for 5 months out of the year, and then working a couple days a week for the remaining months.

During the full-time months my schedule will probably look something like this:

Mon-Wed - Work on Vocal, ~10 hours per day (~30 hours per week)

Thur-Fri - Work on Birdie, ~10 hours per day (~20 hours per week).

I think Birdie 2.0 will be ready much quicker than Vocal 2.0, so I plan to work entirely on Vocal during those other months. I am probably underestimating that figure, though, so that’s subject to change.

So, really, you get two apps for the price of one!

You keep using the phrase “semi full-time.” What does that mean?

I am a college student (CS major, in case that wasn’t implied) getting ready to start my final year, I have one 5 hour per week on-campus job that pays the remainder of my tuition after scholarships are applied, and I also work semi-full time for a school system as a Mac technician for a 1-to-1 deployment. I have worked there, if you include my initial internship, for over four years now. I work there 5 months full-time, and then one day a week throughout the rest of the year.

Basically, if we get funded I’ll be quitting that job and using that time to work on these two open source projects. Think of it this way: when I’m not in class finishing up my final year (and I’m only in class a couple days a week), I’ll be working on one of the two projects.

I have other questions/concerns/comments. How do I get them to you?

If you have any of the above you can personally reach me in a ton of ways. You can comment here on this blog post, you can Tweet to @nathandyer_me, you can ask me on Google+, and you can send an email to mail [at] nathandyer [dot] me.

I also plan to host a public Hangouts on Air where people can come on and ask questions. That will be coming up in about a week, so stay tuned for more info on that.

Please Consider Supporting Vocal

As I said before, please consider supporting out campaign. Even if you only have a few dollars, they’ll add up. If you have more, then obviously that is appreciated as well. If we all work together I am confident that we can meet/surpass the goal. If you can’t donate, I understand. Please just help spread the word.

Thank you all so much! Support Vocal here: