Very sadly I will never purchase Dorico

I’m really sad to hear that. I depend on notation and this arrangement is unworkable for me. Dorico may end up being the best notation ever but if I can’t use it I, of course, won’t purchase it. Given that the crossgrade price is temporary I may never own it. I was told two years ago that Steinberg was working on a different solution to dongles but that, apparently, still does not exist. Is there any tangible reason to believe that it will ever exist? Even EastWest has a no-dongle solution! I will stay with Sibelius.

Hi Daniel:

A few follow up questions on the licensing:

  1. Does the eLicenser dongle have to be plugged during the entire time that Dorico is running, or only at the startup? (With Pro Tools it used to be only at startup, but it now has to be connected all the time)

  2. The decision to only have one license at a time, is that a technical restriction of the eLicensing system, a business decision, or a little bit of both?

I already have 3 different dongles – one for Pro Tools 10/11 (and the Complete Production Toolkit), one for all my Eastwest libraries (several dozen), one for Waves plugins … not looking forward to adding yet another dongle. Aside from the risk of losing / breaking, it sticks out like a sore thumb from devices like the Microsoft Surface Pro.


Man, what a lot of hot air… (not you Peter)

I’ll try not to fuel a fire here, but rather to persuade Steinberg to change their minds. This is a very honest dose of my perspective. It’s respectful. But I’m not holding back. This is how I feel about the licensing schemes employed by Steinberg:

The future

The Surface Book doesn’t even have a USB port on the tablet. The world is moving away from ports and moving toward wireless. In 2010 the iPad was introduced. It disrupted several markets very quickly. If anyone thinks it will be long before dongles are dead, they are fooling themselves. How will dongles survive the day we get rid of ports altogether?

Even now, Pro Tools and Cubase are starting to see disruption by another DAW that is gaining market momentum. I won’t name that DAW out of respect. But the market is an objective climate and will speak for itself in the end. You really have to see what’s out your window for what it is. We can either move with the times or stay put and let the world move on without us. It’s certain that dongles are dead or will be soon enough. But taking a baby step with a software iLicenser is simply not enough.

Consider this-

I can install my DAW on 5 machines and move seamlessly between them. Think about that from my point of view for a minute. Steinberg, tell me… please find a reason… how could a move to Cubase from what I currently have possibly improve my user experience? I’m a reasonable human being. If you can name one reason, I’ll be interested.

What I’m really saying by that is that for Sibelius, Finale, and Notion users, as well as many others… how can Dorico even stand a chance? Don’t get me wrong, I want it to succeed because I like what I’m seeing. So I’m not saying Dorico should fail. I want it to succeed. I’m on your side here. But let me be clear… I like what I’m seeing out of London, just not Hamburg.

Light-hearted nonsense

Before anyone sees more in my comment than I’ve actually said… I love Germany (people, culture, music, and especially the food… oh man, the food). If it weren’t for family, I’d go back and probably live there. I swear it must be in my blood. But Hamburg is gambling Dorico’s future based on an old and well-hated idea. And that worries me a bit. Steinberg should celebrate the success and hard work of good people. But whichever person decided that the eLicenser was a good thing… well I’d hand them a wad of cash to survive with and then wish a good life for them in another company. Every company makes mistakes. What sets you apart is what you do about them. If you want to keep a good ship sailing, it has to be a good ship. That means cutting out a few bad ideas from time to time.

I wish Steinberg the best. The best comes from listening and acting, not sitting around waiting for users to change their minds. Please listen.


By default, Dorico does not use the USB-eLicenser. By default, it uses the Soft-eLicenser. This means that you do not have to connect the USB-eLicenser at all. If you buy the download version of Dorico, you will not even receive a USB-eLicenser: that will only be included with the boxed version.

You only need the USB-eLicenser if you need to run Dorico on more than one computer. You then transfer your license to the USB-eLicenser, and if you want to continue running Dorico on more than one computer, you leave the license there, in which case, yes, the USB-eLicenser needs to be connected for the entire time the application is running, not just at start-up.

If you want to transfer the license from one computer to another more permanently, you only need the USB-eLicenser as the temporary repository for the license: you transfer it from one computer to the USB-eLicenser, then plug that USB-eLicenser into another computer, and then transfer it back from the USB-eLicenser to that computer. Thereafter you no longer require the USB-eLicenser on that computer.

It’s worth pointing out that the transfer of a license from a USB-eLicenser back to becoming a Soft-eLicenser is not currently possible, but it is anticipated that it will be possible by the time of Dorico’s release, or shortly thereafter.

It’s a little bit of both. The Soft-eLicenser from a technical perspective does only allow activation on a single computer, and there is no current capability to allow more than one computer for a single activation code. We considered supplying more than one activation code with each Dorico license, but this opens up the possibilities for unscrupulous people to share or resell their second activation code, which may seem far-fetched but in fact happens all the time (compare, for example, the large secondary market in Steam keys in the PC/Mac gaming market). The solution our management have decided upon is the best balance available between our business needs and our customer needs, based on the current capabilities of our licensing technology – with the emphasis on the words “current capabilities.”

Thanks Daniel — one more follow-up question: how easy / difficult do you expect it will be to move the license from the USB e-Licenser to a Soft-eLicenser, and back, and do you expect that that can be done any time, 24/7? I’m thinking of the way that licenses can be moved from one iLok to another (I know the analogy is imperfect because iLok licenses are always tied to the physical dongle).

If it’s really easy, then for all practical purposes this would be a practical solution for most people who have to switch back / forth between two or more computers, and who don’t want to leave the USB stick in the device that they are using.

For example: Dorico is installed on a desktop computer, but occasionally for road trips you may want to move the license to a Microsoft Surface Pro. But you don’t want to keep the dongle in the Surface Pro for whatever reason (it might get stolen, lost, break, you need the USB port for something else, etc).

This video seems pretty straightforward to me: (Yes, I know they mention the transfer to the USB dongle is a one way street; apparently that may change).

It still wouldn’t solve the issue of people using a device with no USB port but I guess you can’t solve everything at once. Scoredfilms mentioned the surface book tablet; but I wonder how useful Dorico is without a regular computer keyboard in terms of how to enter notes, setting up scores etc.; my understanding at this point is probably not very much. But that’s a bit of a side note for this particular model of computer.


If the only way to protect your own bank account is to put up a sign that says “our needs come before our customers’ needs”, then the company is looking at its business the wrong way. All but 2 DAWs are dongle free and everyone else even allows multiple installs. 2 of them allow 2. 6 of them allow 3, 5 or unlimited. So quite frankly, the justification offered here just doesn’t hold up on that chart.

I hope you guys are working on a different solution. Otherwise Dorico will be the first and only notation program to tether users in a way that users simply aren’t happy about.


If you did a chart of which ones get pirated, the Ys and Ns would be reversed.

Ha ha ha! Funny point, but not exactly accurate…

1 - Google says they’ve both been pirated. I trust the all-knowing Google.
2 - Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Security is a myth.
3 - Piracy, while not ideal, also combats disruptive economics. Microsoft, Adobe, and many others all proved that years ago.

The real question is if you’re making your product good enough that everyone is using it, legit or otherwise. I suggest getting more people using your software will do you better in the end. And if my suggestions don’t have any weight here, then I’ll just keep using the DAW I moved to on my desktop, laptop, and tablet and even a couple extra computers just for the fun of it. Because hey, I can. :wink:


They did:


I think you have to appreciate that Steinberg has had a system in place of protecting its software against piracy, that was here well before the arrival of Dorico.

It depends on a combination of elicense software and hardware. In itself we can all agree that protection against piracy is a reasonable objective. I am not sure whether there is any point in arguing which is technically the best protection against piracy. I am not not a software piracy protection expert, and presumably neither are you, but correct me if I am wrong.

Yes, I would love for Dorico to adopt the “Reaper” system – which is that essentially there is no copyright protection system (other than a nagging screen) — and leave it up to the user to do the honorable thing. But that is not the world we live in.

I’m just interested in finding a workable solution where people can have Dorico on more than one system, preferably without having to have the hardware dongle plugged in the whole time.

I would expect it to be done in exactly the same way that a Soft-eLicenser is moved to a USB-eLicenser today: you would quit Dorico, run the eLicenser Control Center application, plug in your USB-eLicenser, and then drag the Dorico license from the USB-eLicenser to the Soft-eLicenser. I believe this process would require an Internet connection so that our central activation server can be made aware of the transfer – I will find this out from our eLicenser team. But there is no reason to believe that it would not be possible any time, 24/7.

Totally understood and appreciated but… it is an archaic system. I purchased Cubase Elements to use on my laptop because it doesn’t use a dongle. (I have to be just do without the advanced features of Cubase Pro). I just purchased a new laptop and am going through the usual nightmare with support trying to get it authorized. I’ve been working on it for days and still can’t use it. NO OTHER SOFTWARE package that I use gives me this grief. Steinbergs system is a terrible one. With Native Instruments, for example, their software takes care of everything. Cakewalk Sonar (which I had to install since I still can’t use my Cubase Elements) has a software manager that takes care of everything. No grief and no downtime. Steinberg is using last century’s technology and it’s customers are paying the price. Why does Steinberg remain so far behind? This is an honest question that I would love an answer to.

The thing I find most frustrating here is that Steinberg seems to be willing to throw out the convenience of honest users in exchange for the appearance of security. As has already been pointed out, there is not truly bulletproof security here. If an unscrupulous user wants to break Steinberg’s system, they will. So the only thing that is certain, is that the new system will be a significant burden to Dorico users and a significant barrier to adoption by new users.

I know many people hate subscriptions and continuous checks, but if there was a “Cloud eLicenser” option that required my computer to check in with a server once every 10 days or something, I would much rather have that than any of the backwards-looking solutions proposed so far.

This whole thing is just extraordinarily frustrating to me. And it’s only more frustrating when the application I read about on the blog is so compelling. (I think this is really the source of the ire on this board. People are really really excited about Dorico, and then the licensing scheme comes as an unexpect FU/gut-punch at the end.) I know Daniel and the Dorico team don’t make these kinds of decisions, but they’re the only people we can complain to.

Pro Tool’s iLok is a hardware based dongle as well … as does East West and many more companies. There are many people that hate iLok or any dongle with a vengeance which is why they won’t use any software that uses it … so I understand where you are coming from.

iLok is actually a bit more onerous than the Steinberg eLicenser since, per Daniel’s post above, you’ll likely be able to move the license back and forth between the software version and the hardware UBS dongle. By contrast, the iLok has to be physically inserted into your computer all the time Pro Tools is running.

A couple of years ago PACE (the company that developed the iLok) had a major technical glitch involving one of the updates to their software, as a result of which anyone who had just gone through the upgrade couldn’t use Pro Tools for many days … can you imagine the effect that had on e.g. professional recording studios that are fully booked, and that have to turn away clients because they are dead in the water? A major disaster …

Anyways, copyright protection is here to stay and nothing is perfect; we’ll just have to find a way to live with it. Right now the way the eLicening system is likely going to work for Dorico is fine with me.

No, with iLok you can easily move a license back and forth from the dongle to machine and visa versa

Peter, I’m under no illusion that this works for you and that they have been doing it since before Dorico. Just because someone has been doing something doesn’t mean they should continue to. Just apply that to world history for a moment to prove that point.

I respect that it works for you. But I believe it’s reasonable to state that it doesn’t for me and defend why I believe it’s a practice that has poor results for users and even for Steinberg. I left Steinberg for another. I use a different DAW without this trouble. They make money. I have a great experience with them. So there is no necessity involved here. If they care about retention and growth and good visibility, why continue to do something more people hate than respect?

I respect different opinions. But I also believe in engaging my own views with those who have something else to offer. That way my life is polished by those around me. I call it “working together” :wink: I just wish Steinberg was doing more about this. The thing is, you’re talking to someone who wasn’t keen with the dongle since well before Dorico. I respect many things about Cubase. It just didn’t work out for me. I just want to see Dorico avoid what I believe are the mistakes in Stenberg’s past. If users didn’t voice themselves, progress would die. Change isn’t always progress, but progress always starts with engagement which brings change. The more we engage and hear out other people concerns, the more likely we find win-win solutions. That’s why I’m not only voicing my own beliefs, but bringing economic points into the picture as well. Those have little relevance to me as a user. However, they are entirely relevant to Steinberg and whether this practice benefits them enough to maintain a sour taste in people’s mouths, and deter many from buying in the first place. My hope would be that my engagement here is seen as a good and welcome thing for enticing improvement, not as a threat to Steinberg. After all, I’m proposing that this particular change would help Steinberg.

Microsoft Windows, Adobe Photoshop, and many others grew in popularity because of piracy. That’s a well known fact that even those companies acknowledge. They still try to limit it. But the manage it for good like a disability rather than treat it like cancer to be removed completely. That, their price, and their product all are what made them or kept them so successful and standard for users. If I owned Steinberg I wouldn’t love piracy of my hard work. But I would love even more if every music student, teacher, amateur, prosumer, and professional were using my product. Because then I at least have access to that size of user base. That can open up now money making potential for a company which not only allows then to regain what they lost, but the visibility and growth far outweigh the alternative. If 70% of your user base is pirating. Most all of them wouldn’t have paid anyway and would have pirated something else. But you gain a 233% addition in users that way, which means far more visibility, which means far more sales from those who don’t pirate. Bill Gates was smart because he saw it objectively and not through the lens of insecurity. There are many ways to make money with a large user base. There are far fewer ways to make money with a small one, especially a small one that is tethered down uncomfortably.


This has scared me seriously. I think many people will stay with or turn to the brand-new Sonic Scores Overture 5 which has great DAW-type features, too. It may not be as “professional” as Dorico, but it sure is very interesting, user-friendly and more than great enough for even quite demanding composers and musicians around the world. And NO dongles or other stuff like that is needed. Only a serial number.

But please be so kind and patient and tell us what happens, if a person purchases Dorico and installs it on his/her studio Windows PC and that PC then gets broken, or the owner simply wants to buy a new computer. Or if (s)he replaces the motherboard and all hard drives of the old PC with new ones. Is a nightmare awaiting him/her when (s)he wants to install the purchased and already once installed Dorico on the new or old but refurbished PC?

Thank you ever so much. Appreciated.

I’m also just going to stick my hand up as well and say it’s unusable for me too solely because of this.

No way!! Is that true?

Just learned some interesting today … totally did not know that. Well, that is useful to know, thanks! :slight_smile: