Russia & Apple Murder Independent Journalism

Three Russian journalists were killed this week while investigating a Russian mercenary company in the Central African Republic. These are just the latest in a long list of journalists murdered by Putin's government.

In related news: Apple killed discchord this week. All iTunes affiliates received the following email:

Thank you for participating in the affiliate program for apps. With the launch of the new App Store on both iOS and macOS and their increased methods of app discovery, we will be removing apps from the affiliate program. Starting on October 1st, 2018, commissions for iOS and Mac apps and in-app content will be removed from the program. All other content types (music, movies, books, and TV) remain in the affiliate program.

This month discchord will be celebrating its 7th year, but this short email from Apple puts a pall over that.

For those of you unfamiliar with how the affiliate program works, it has been Apple's way of compensating people who help them sell apps. For every dollar you spend on the App Store, Apple takes $0.30. If you bought that app after clicking on my links, or links from your favorite YouTubers, we would get a few cents from those $0.30. (I'm not actually allowed to say the exact number.) That might not sound like a lot, but it added up!

Throughout the past 7 years, the iTunes affiliate program has been the backbone of my personal income. Some of you may feel indifferent to the affiliate program. I've seen some people express resentment at YouTubers and bloggers making money off app sales. But that tiny commission is what's kept the lights on here, by keeping me out of a full-time job. iTunes commissions account for 47% of my income so far this year.

In one sentence Apple have pulled the rug out from under me. I've seen some baffling statements of quasi-support from people saying, "I hope that doesn't affect [their favorite affiliate site] too much." Imagine Apple shows up and takes away 47% of your income without explanation. It affects me like that. For sites like AppShopper this is probably closer to 100% of their income. TouchArcade is likewise reeling from the news.


I haven't been sitting on my thumbs over here. I knew I had a good thing going, and I didn't want to sit around waiting for it to disappear. I'm always on the look out for my Next Big Thing. If you've listened to my recent podcast appearance you heard how I've been trying to improve my skillset. After re-writing the site I'm now an expert at Python and modern JavaScript frameworks. I'm also quite knowledgeable about apps. About 4 months ago I decided to combine these fields of expertise by making a better AppShopper.

If you're a casual AppShopper user you might not notice that it is quite bad at keeping up with new apps. Just today they finally spotted MyCity MySounds, which I reported on back in June. They rely entirely on the iTunes API for all of their information, but the iTunes API is notoriously spotty. Half of my work on discchord has been on ways to compensate for how bad the iTunes API is. So I built a network of web crawlers that watch sites like Twitter and Reddit to find new apps; based on what people are talking about. As you read this I have 7 servers all over the world that are busy crawling around with my code. Once I got that part done, I began working on the front-end. I'm about 2 months from having it completed, but now I'm not sure what to do. Without iTunes affiliate commissions the site will have to rely on advertising... but ad blocking is so prevalent that this seems like an unlikely way to recoup the costs of all these servers and my time.

My time is an important factor here. The new site was going to run itself with automation. Any other enterprise threatens to take time away from discchord, which requires about 4 hours every day. Now all of the afternoons and evenings I've poured into the new site over the last 4 months have been for nothing. I could have spent that time doing literally anything else and it would have been more productive.


Yesterday Apple became a trillion dollar company, while casually killing off one of the smallest. I'm not actually likening my plight to the victims of Putin, but damn. This is brutal. I was happy making pennies on the dollar. I've been truly proud of my work providing independent tech journalism. Then Apple wanted all the pennies.

We're a tiny community. We're a niche of a niche. Musicians are a small portion of the population, and musicians enthusiastic about iOS apps are an even smaller portion of those. I've tried everything to make advertising work here; including the Google ads you see now. It doesn't matter. There just aren't enough people. With over 700,000 monthly views here, I only make around $250 per month from Google.

My native ads don't get many buyers either. Developers don't make much money themselves, so I'm extremely grateful to all of the developers who have parted with their money to advertise here. I genuinely appreciate the hell out of every single dollar Patreon Patrons throw at me. This shortfall from iTunes is many many hundreds of dollars and I can't reasonably expect Patrons to make up the difference, but I invite you to try.

While Apple were taking a victory lap yesterday, I was looking pretty hard at my own finances. If I can't get the site to start generating a lot more money in the next month, I'm going to have to update my resume and shutter the site. There is a petition on, but I'm not getting my hopes up for Apple to change their mind.

If any developers out there feel discchord is of value to them and their business, now would be a great time to consider advertising on the site before it's too late. That's basically what I need at this point: BIG Patrons.

Let's Play with Patterning 2

Patterning 2 adds a lot of features that let you get creative with your drum patterns. For this Let's Play I take the most generic House pattern and turn it into something lively, using those new features!

Video Description:

Patterning is my favorite drum machine on iOS, so I was excited to get a preview of Patterning 2! In this Let's Play I show off how the new features can turn a boring drum pattern into an evolving and complex pattern! Patterning 2 is available on iTunes:

If you've enjoyed this series please consider supporting it by becoming a Patreon: If you'd prefer to help on a monthly basis, instead of per video, there is a monthly Patreon campaign: (Patrons of both campaigns get the same benefits, including Ad Free viewing on the site!)

Let's Play with 2XB303 Acid Bass Sequencer

This week I explored the new 2XB303 Acid Bass Sequencer from BEATS N BOBS. Developer Rob Wilmot, the titular Bob of BEATS N BOBS, has been doing apps for quite a long time without finding much love from the community. He poured himself into this one to change that, so Let's Play with it to see what he came up with!

Video Description:

2XB303 does what it says on the tin, with 2 TB-303 clones in a single app, complete with sequencers and effects. Let's Play with it!

If you've enjoyed this series please consider supporting it by becoming a Patreon: If you'd prefer to help on a monthly basis, instead of per video, there is a monthly Patreon campaign: (Patrons of both campaigns get the same benefits, including Ad Free viewing on the site!)

Music Production Podcast: Tim Webb creator of

AfroDJMac and I had one of the most interesting conversations I've ever had. Fortunately he was recording it! Now you can listen to our pearls of wisdom! The two of us have been doing YouTube for a very long time, and we've exchanged a few emails over the years, but this was our first time talking face-to-face over Skype.

This is quite long at an hour and a half, but there is a lot of great info in here for anyone aspiring to be more productive, and more comfortable with your own music making. I discuss stuff I haven't talked about anywhere else before, so even if you've already heard me talk quite a lot, this will all seem new.

Video Description:

Full post with show notes:

Tim Webb has gone to great lengths to bring us the latest and greatest in iOS music making news. His site covers all the latest releases, updates, and relevant YouTube walkthroughs, jams, and reviews of music making software for iPhone and iPad. In a refreshing blast of honesty, Tim is not afraid to tell you what apps suck and are not worth your time. He has been a faithful supporter of developers and app users worldwide for the better part of the last decade.

Tim was kind enough to sit down with me for a in-depth discussion about his work, developing apps, and creating and maintaining a one person business. He offers important lessons on discipline and sincerity that are applicable to all kinds of pursuits. Tim has been extremely supportive of my own work and the work of many creatives who put themselves and their art on the web. It was a pleasure to finally speak with him and learn some important lessons and viewpoints on running a successful music-based business.

Visit my site for more stuff like this, including Live Instrument downloads, tutorials and music!


Let's Play with AudioKit Synth One

After months of teasing, AudioKit's epic Synth One will be arriving on iOS this Thursday the 28th! I rearranged my schedule to get this Let's Play out as soon as possible to help people dive right into the deep synthesis!

Video Description:

AudioKit Synth One is a completely free and open-source synth for iOS! It is packed full of features, with some great effects, and an excellent collection of presets provided by the community. Let's play with it!

If you've enjoyed this series please consider supporting it by becoming a Patreon: If you'd prefer to help on a monthly basis, instead of per video, there is a monthly Patreon campaign: (Patrons of both campaigns get the same benefits, including Ad Free viewing on the site!)

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