Is Dorico now also just a "subscription" based product?

Like the title says. I moved away from Sibelius because I didn’t want to be paying monthly/annually for an up-to-date version of the program. Now Dorico is releasing a major version every year with features more akin to a minor release, and making us pay every time. I’m very disappointed by this.
For example, the new “feature” to be able to input things on multiple staves at the same time is marketed as a flagship feature for version 5, I’d say it’s more like a thing you’d expect to be in version 1 of the program, as it is something all competitors have been offering far before Dorico was conceived.
I’ve been using Dorico since version 3 and since I’ve been waiting for a lot of features tailored more towards contemporary composers that are apparently in the pipeline according to the forums, but have yet to see the daylight. For all I know, I will have to wait and pay for 12 major versions before these features show up. What’s the point of investing in a piece of software if there’s going to be a new major version every year with a paywall? This is just a subscription based service in disguise as older major versions (that are not even a year old I might add) are left for dead.

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Sorry, this is so obviously a false comparison.

Stop paying for Sibelius. What happens? You lose access to it.

Stop paying for Dorico. What happens? Nothing. You keep the same software you had before and can continue using it.


Dorico is not a subscription-based product, because you’re under no obligation to pay – unless, of course, you want the new features that are included in the update. We do our best to provide a balanced set of features in every major release, but inevitably we won’t be able to deliver features that are of equal interest and value to every segment of our user base.

Dorico 4.0 was released in January 2022, nearly 18 months ago, and we provided no fewer than 10 significant updates to that generation of the product, the most recent only only two or three months ago. I don’t think you can really consider the money paid for a Dorico 4 update to have been a bad investment.

Dorico 5.0 arrived this week and provides a good number of new features, and it will be followed by further updates, like every version of Dorico that has come before it. The features we’ve added in Dorico 5.0 may not be of interest to you, but there will be more features to come in future updates, and hopefully in good time you will see sufficient value for your own personal use of the software that you find the update price fair, and you decide to buy at that point.

Regarding the specific case of multiple item input, so far as I know this feature is only available in Sibelius, and it was introduced in Sibelius 2018.1, which is after Dorico 1.0 was released by more than a year. I don’t believe Finale or MuseScore have any equivalent functionality.

You don’t need to part with any money if you don’t want to. Dorico 4.3.30 is just as functional today as it was on Tuesday night, before Dorico 5.0 was announced. If the features provided in Dorico 5.0 are of no interest to you, then you’re really no worse off. We will continue to provide technical support for Dorico 4 for years to come, and although we do not plan to release any further updates for Dorico 4.x, you’ve had lots of valuable features and fixes for your update fee.



I disagree that Dorico 5 is a minor update, but of course YMMV.


I would like to express my wholehearted support for the approach taken by Dorico. Admittedly, the updating process can be challenging, particularly with the current issue of the Download Assistant not functioning on macOS. However, Dorico stands out as a flexible software that undergoes continuous enhancements. The process of refining software entails considerable investment in terms of finances, time, and effort. I am more than willing to contribute to ensure that Steinberg finds it profitable to sustain its development.

The annual fee of 100 euros may indeed align with the pricing models of various subscription services, but the key advantage lies in the freedom to update at one’s convenience. Additionally, there is the option to opt for a more relaxed update path: either 160 euros every two years or even three years (commencing from the 3.5 update). This grants users the flexibility to choose what suits their individual circumstances best.

For this reason, I made the decision to acquire the update, despite the fact that many of the new features may not directly pique my personal interest. I would like to take a moment to express my sincere appreciation to Daniel and the entire team for their outstanding work. Your dedication to continuously improving Dorico is truly commendable. It is reassuring to know that I can contribute to the advancement of this exceptional software program. Keep up the remarkable work!

(Having said all that, in anticipation of the upcoming update, I sincerely hope for improvements in notation, specifically fine-tuning Slurs in the Engraving Options. Slurs often require significant attention, especially when dealing with grace notes or large intervals. I’m sure that enhancements in this area would greatly benefit workflow and efficiency for many users.)


I’m not saying it’s exactly a service like Sibelius. I’m saying I’m dissatisfied with the course of action Dorico is currently taking.
Most feature requests here on the forum have no indication of when they’ll arrive or for that matter, how many major updates will happen in the mean time. With every major update it becomes more expensive to upgrade from the version you stayed with, making the upgrade for a feature a user is waiting for more and more expensive with every major update pushed out before the desired features make it to a release.

In a previous post the team informed me that many contemporary features are somewhere on the planning but not before basic functionality (which translates to romantic/classical composing) are fully implemented, for which, also, not timeline is available. I can understand all this – it’s a relatively small team doing a lot of work, and don’t get me wrong, it’s very, very much appreciated.

When I’m being asked to judge if the upgrade price is fair for features offered, and I don’t currently deem it the case for me personally, that automatically means the price will increase the longer I wait, with every major version that’s released until a version comes along that pays attention to contemporary features.

In conclusion: more and more I get the gist that I shouldn’t have switched to Dorico for another few years as pretty essential features are still being rolled out with major updates but now, I’ve invested a pretty penny in a product that’s exempt from further updates until I deem the new features necessary to upgrade, which becomes more expensive every time I deem it not so.

I get it, I’m going to get a lot of negativity for this post and sure, rightfully so, as the Dorico team works very hard on the product they’re making, and let me be clear: there’s a lot to be very happy about and proud of in this product. I just expected and hoped the initial investment would carry on for longer before having to pay again for new features, especially from the viewpoint of a contemporary composer.

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(In addition to this, I sympathise with the sentiment that some features are curiously lacking or not as well thought out as the others, like in your case for contemporary composers, and in mine with solo piano music or spacing issues that take a lot of time.)

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The way Dorico is released is typical of almost all non-subscription software: a paid upgrade every 12-24 months, with a large discount for those upgrading from the most recent version and a smaller discount for those upgrading from older versions. Your licence is perpetual - if you want to stick at Dorico 4, you are free to do so.

The difference with Dorico is that features continue to be added in minor upgrades; this is somewhat unusual, with most software getting all but perhaps one or two “coming soon” features in the major update, then nothing until the next paid update.

Dorico has a wide user base. As the product matures, many new features will be of more niche value - a contemporary composer will not be interested in enhancements to figured bass and a copyist is probably not that interested in playback. The development team has to choose what they can reasonably deliver in a development cycle and then ship the product.


What surprises me most is that “Meno mosso” and “Pìu mosso” tempo indication both speed the tempo up, and we’re talking about version 4 of the software, still requiring manual intervention for meno mosso. Anybody with Dorico 5: is that fixed yet?

Steinberg’s update model to date is pretty fair. An update from the most recent version of Dorico Pro in the UK is £85 including tax. An update from any older version of Dorico Pro (or Dorico 1) is £136 including tax - 1.6 times the cost of updating from the most recent version.

You save money by skipping a major version entirely - you are never worse off. Indeed, if Steinberg continues with their current policies, as a Dorico Pro 4 owner you can wait until there is a Dorico Pro 5 update sale, buy an update DAC at the sale price for a “one version only” upgrade, and then store it unused until you want to activate the current version of Dorico Pro.


While I can agree that I’d love to know what will arrive when, I can understand (as I think you do as well) that being promised a feature that for wherever reason takes longer than planned would be a source of profound disappointment, and thus Dorico’s unwillingness to publish a timeline (even a hoped-for timeline) is probably wise.

And I’m sure MuseScore in particular would love to see what Dorico is planning and when. :scream:


Quite apart from the commercial sensitivity in disclosing a product roadmap, the reality of software development is that there is a point at which you have to ship something rather than keep testing and debugging or, worse still, feature creeping. The development team needs the flexibility to hold back features that are not ready to ship in a given release, as well as deciding that a hoped-for feature cannot be developed, tested and debugged in time for a given upcoming release.

Just because something sounds simple does not mean it is straightforward to implement.

In my experience as a software engineer, there is usually no value in opening up product roadmaps beyond a handful of trusted individuals who are under NDA and who understand that nothing is final until it ships in a public release.

All that is relevant has probably been said on this - the upgrade price of £85 (UK) is not going to break the bank IMO and in fact seriously undercuts the competitors models. Software development needs to be paid for after all.

That being said although I am quietly routing for
@dspreadbury and his team I think shrugging these many complaints off with an “inevitably things will be missing” line is probably the wrong approach.

This can’t feel like a positive response to the launch to you, especially after Dorico 4’s highly anticipated arrival! A major upgrade to me should have some wow factor, or at least solve a problem that plagues the industry and that nobody can possibly live without.

I think the lack of wow factor for a significant portion of core users should be a cause for concern, not brushed under the carpet, and that’s why it’s a little disappointing IMHO.

But the team haven’t disappointed before and I still prefer Dorico to it’s main competitor, which I used for years (and still have an expensive subscription to). So for better or worse I guess I’m still in…

I’m tired, and I’ve been dealing with hundreds of users over the last couple of days, but if there were a downvote button on this forum, @eddjcaine would just have received one from me.


How’s Sibelius on that front…? I can tell you how Finale is…

I’d be surprised if there isn’t something in this release that you couldn’t find a use for; and if you derive any income from using Dorico, then $99 is a snip. This is of course only the beginning of the v5 cycle, and there’s likely to be more features in 5.1, 5,2 or 5.3 that you can use to great effect.

Mind you, the later you leave it in the cycle to make the upgrade, the less value you get…


Sorry Dan - hope you appreciate I’m trying to be measured about it - was not going to say anything initially - perhaps I shouldn’t have. still on your side, honest :slight_smile:

You might have short term memory or be very young because absolutely all softwares companies on the planet before the subscription trend used to release new versions of their sofwtares more or less regularly, some yearly, some every few years, nonetheless in the the end when you pay you own for life the version you have so your comparison doesn’t stand, because absolutely nothing forces you to pay every update and nothing prevents you from working if you don’t pay, which subscription does.

If you’re smart enough you wait for yearly discounts (which I’m not quite sure if Sibelius or other companies have frequently, as opposed to Steinberg who does that for all of their softwares at some point in the year for upgrades & updates) and you have access to grace periods if you purchased a license within a few weeks prior to a new release, which again I’m not quite sure many companies do.
For instance with Cubase I had purchased an EDU license of studio 4 when I was a student, then upgraded years later to pro 6.5 with a yearly july discount, then years later to 9 same then to 11 as I fell within the grace period when purchasing 10, which all in all barely cost me a tiny bit more than what I’d pay today for a brand new license (which by the way over 10 years ago were more around 800-900€ than the current ones around 600).
And nothing stopped me from working all those years, you don’t need all the time the latest version.
I’m less impressed with Dorico 5 new features than what I expected so I’m not upgrading for now and will wait for 5.x versions to see if somthing’s interesting for me, yet if it was like a subscription I’d not be able to work right now, which is obviously not the case.

So I’m very glad Steinberg is not moving their softwares to subscription, if that’s what you prefer, paying for life or not being able to use anymore your software, well whatever floats your boat but I’m avoiding that at all cost and I’d rather skip some versions and upgrade later while being still able to work than being forced to pay for life else I can’t work.


The trouble with a subscription is that you MUST make the payment, at a time of the company’s choosing; not at your choice. Freelancers often go from feast to famine, so when times are fat, I can choose to pay for upgrades, and when times are lean, I can wait.

As for subscription: there’s no evidence that companies are more responsive to bugs, or inventive with new features.

And I’m often reminded of a scene in Goodfellas. To paraphrase:

“So, now, if he’s got a problem, he can go to the Pauli. Bugs? Go to Pauli. But he’s also gotta come up with Pauli’s money every week. Business a bit slow? … you, pay me.”

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I find this complaint delightfully odd. You didn’t pay for the 8-10 updates to Dorico 4 did you? I know I didn’t!

Every software…pretty much ever… requires payment for major version updates. This includes all the direct competitors to Dorico.

Also, do you NOT want them to develop the program at break-neck speed and thereby produce new versions every year? Also, at least from my perspective, the old software model of only getting one major update every year (or two) with NO updates in between was substantially less satisfying than getting a new “dot” update every 3 months or so (for free) with new features you didn’t see coming.

For my part, I think Dorico’s development model is very generous and much more satisfying than any other software I use. Imagine if they had kept every single dot update for the Dorico 4 cycle until today’s release and dropped a whopper of an update all at once for Dorico 5. People would be over-the-moon. But just because you’re lulled into a false sense of “not that much is happening” suddenly you’re dissatisfied. It’s a glass-half-empty rather than glass-half-full way to go about it.

And FWIW, I just updated a $300 (new) piece of software the other day; they only update once per year. You’re lucky if you get a single maintenance update all year to fix bugs. Then the cost to update is even more than Dorico’s unless you pay for their “maintenance & service” plan which comes itself at a cost.


I don’t think that applies. If you don’t renew the subscription, you can still use the old version. There are just no more updates.