Why are the Roon yearly subscription costs high?

This is not a cynical question at all, Im just trying to understand if there is any aspect I’m not seeing that justifies the high cost.

  1. I agree that by itself, Roon is a unique & excellent software and much thought and efforts have gone into (and continue to go into) developing it. If Intellectual Property is the reason for cost then it would make sense with the lifetime billing of $699 but not when it is a yearly or monthly subscription. Basically customers are paying over and over for IP.
  2. If licensing involved in bringing part of immersive experience such as artist bio and music tag information (Valence) is the reason then that would be incorrect. I found Roon pulls the same information (word to word) as that is displayed in Tidal. Interlinking artists, composers and then suggesting music are just algorithms. If this is the case, basically we are paying twice for the same music information - to Tidal and then to Roon. To add, most music services seem to pull data from All Music database which is free and in public domain. The website even recommends music.
  3. MQA support may has licensing costs but then I don’t think it is that high to justify the recurring high subscription cost.
  4. Third party code libraries used also may not be the reason since majority libraries used seem to be open source.

So, is there any reason that I’m missing?

Price is not based on cost. Price is based on what the market will bear. Evidently, 250,000 people think Roon is worth $119 per year. I did until I decided it was also worth $500 for lifetime.


Wrong. AllMusic is a commercial venture and commercial downstream users of their metadata or reviews need to license it.

The price that roon charges it’s not that bad for what it offers, for example the new Audirvana is cheaper but not for much and only offers a faction of what roon can do.

Roon is a great piece of software, for me it deserves the value they charge. But every one evaluates this with a different point of view.

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Audirvana also charged to go from version 2 to version 3. Roon does not charge for upgrades, of course.

You left out from your list what is probably the single largest cost: software development (ie engineers, development managers, product managers, QA, hardware validation, etc). I suspect that support is also a large expense for Roon.


Audirvana has the new version that came out on the 16 May, and is on subscription model now.

JRiver has the same BS upgrade " hand over your :dollar:) system.
I started with JRiver24 and foolishly paid to upgrade to JRiver25.
I could see no difference for my $50…
Then blow me within 5 months they announced JRiver26 and wanted another $50…
Bye bye JRiver!
Hello Roon.


AllMusic itself is actually a subscriber to Rovi/Tivo, which is the same source Roon gets a lot of its data from. Allmusic itself does not create any data for any down stream users. If you try to upload images or correct metadata on their site, it tells you to e-mail Rovi/Tivo.

This is incorrect. We have paid millions to TiVo for licensing this data. This data is absolutely not free for commercial use. While some of the data may be public domain, the collection of data is not. Some of the data is very much copyrighted, such as album covers, photography, lyrics, and all the reviews/bios. In fact, it gets massively complicated, as different entities own the copyright in different geographic regions, so where the content is viewed can impact who is paid and how much.

We use data from many sources, not just Rovi. They mostly cost us. Hell, even “free and public” MusicBrainz costs us. It’s not terribly expensive, but it’s not free for commercial use (the way we use it).

We actually mention this explicitly in our privacy policy which you agree to when you start Roon the first time. We log where you are and what you viewed, so we can indeed pay those copyright owners.

It’s a recurring cost, repeated every month, determined by usage of core decodes.

There are only so many bios and reviews that have been licensed for redistribution. Multiple data sources have the same reviews and bios. Remember, all those must be negotiated with the copyright holder (the author usually). The difference in Roon is that we show you more than word to word what someone wrote.

Support, updates, bug fixes, etc. Yes, even bug fixes. If you buy software outright, you have to deal with any issues. Did you forget what it was like long before SaaS? Updates for bugfixes weren’t free. SaaS has made software better because software developers all chase that renewal.

Plus, our cloud services that power recommendations, radio, etc… We ingest terabytes of data daily from labels, from metadata services, and from the streaming providers. All that cpu, storage, and bandwidth costs us daily.

The only reason we don’t lose money on most life timers is because they buy other things (gift codes, Nucleus), and do referrals.

  • Simultaneous multiple end-point playback even when on a single user Tidal/Qobuz subscription
  • Seamless integration of local and cloud based music
  • Stream to any USB dac via a simple endpoint without relying on streaming service capabilities (casting etc)
  • High performance and usability even with large libraries
  • Per endpoint dsp/convolution allowing for room correction
  • Content upsampling to tweak the sound your taste
  • etc

@danny thank you taking the time to respond. Though I disagree with you on some of the points, I did overlook the cloud storage and compute costs. Even if cloud adoption is in the rise, costs for cloud infrastructure still remains high. But my disagreement on those certain aspects is neither intended to downgrade Roon nor to start an argument and compare it with other software, (I’m absolutely convinced that Roon is a fantastic software and there are no parallels. And I have tried them all - Audirvana, Jriver to name a few) it is purely my personal view on some of the costs that get passed on to subscribers and it is not specific to Roon. However, my views doesnt make me hate Roon as a software, I still love it. :heart_eyes:

PS: I also thank all members for their views and correcting some of my wrong assumptions!


$12 a month is pretty hefty money outside the US/Europe. Probably it makes more sense to come up with region-specific pricing like Spotify.


Being a software developer in my day job I want to mention the costs for keeping the software profitable. Roon is constantly supporting and updating the software and this translates to an hourly rate for each person involved. So one of the reasons for the cost is that, constantly evolving changing and fixing anything that may crop up. Remember that the integrations do not remain static either. If, say, Tidal changes something Roon has to adjust.

So it is more than paying for IP, it is also paying for support and constantly improving the software.

So looking out there at software in general the price is totally within the ballpark.

Thing is also the yearly billing. It’s better to translate it to monthly and compare it to other services out there. Roon costs 10 dollar a month if you take the yearly plan, which is less than a DropBox account costs.

For what the software gives and the continuous support I think it is a fair amount.


Roon is almost free for me. I get to have Tidal HiFi + Roon instead of a Tidal HiFi family plan. Everyone can listen via Roon with the non-family plan.

Your annual reminder from a curmudgeon married to an MBA.

Lifetime Licenses are rarely a benefit to the vendor. They are good for building seed money in the startup phase but eventually the goal is always a more sustainable economic flow.

For most us working stiffs every day we get up work it is to earn money. Paying annually means Roon has to deliver on user experience or they are subject to churn.

I like having a modicum of power and influence along with the flexibility to maintain or sever the relationship. Sometimes it’s a bit deeper than money.

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Isn’t it funny, how what one person can see as expensive another sees as not only worthwhile but to be honest, quite cheap! $119 US a year equates to around £7 per month here in the UK - for what Roon offers I find this excellent value and certainly not a burden. Added to my Qobuz subscription of £12.49pm that makes it under £20 quid for the most amazing range of music, lots of it hires (regardless of what John Darko keeps saying! :blush:) added to Roon’s amazing features, well… we live in great times for the music lover and audiophile!

Now of course a few years ago I was also hugely resentful of subscription services as I just wanted to pay for software once and have done with it, but I’m over that now - crikey I have a mate who pays £70+ for a bloody Sky TV subscription, now that is a complete waste of money, I don’t watch films and I hate sport! :rofl:


Compared to cable tv, Roon is a steal.


For the sake of clarity, and in the light of @danny’s response, what points do you disagree on?

Well for me Roon is a bargain… less than a crappy cup of coffee a week. I went lifetime 5 years ago and support the product within the community where I can. You dont complain about hifi hardware and now we have streaming etc software is part of the hifi chain for 99% of us.