There are a number of recurrent questions about subscriptions to Ardour that come up. This article tries to collect them all and provide a coherent set of answers.
It is much easier to manage the revenue flow from people who decide to pay to support the development Ardour if it arrives in a somewhat steady stream rather than big bumps when we release new versions. One-time payments for downloads and one-time donations are still welcome ways to support Ardour development, of course.
The Ardour project receives the vast majority of the revenue it generates in the form of small payments (less than US$10, and most of them around US$1). PayPal has a micropayments system that saves us nearly US$0.23 on every US$1 transaction. As far as we know, no other payment company offers this (and to be honest, we worry that PayPal may remove it at any time). This has huge consequences for us in terms of the fees we have to pay, and thus the actual revenue we receive when you do pay.
In some jurisdictions PayPal allows people to create subscriptions without having a credit card. This is also something that is not offered by any other subscription-offering service that we are aware of.
PayPal also handles the largest number of countries around the world, unlike many newer online credit card-based services that have limited their current offerings to North America and Europe (at best). Since Ardour is used in over 140 countries around the world, this seems respectful of our worldwide base of users/supporters.
I don't want an account at PayPal
A subscription is a 3-way contract between you, the Ardour project and PayPal. For this to be workable, PayPal needs to know who you are and to keep some information on file for you. There's simply no way this could work otherwise - even if we didn't use PayPal, some other company would need to do the same thing.
I don't use a credit card, PayPal won't let me subscribe
For reasons that PayPal will not or cannot explain, their policy about allowing customers to create subscriptions without registering a credit card varies from country to country. Germany is particularly badly effected - many Germans do not use credit cards, but PayPal in Germany will not allow subscriptions without registering a credit card with your PayPal account.
We don't like this policy but we are powerless to change it (or explain it). See "Why PayPal?" above for more perspective.
I can't/won't subscribe but I want to pay and get updates
Pay at least US$45 for a particular version and you'll get all updates to that version and the next next major version without paying again. For example, pay this much or more for version 4.0, and you will get 4.1, 4.2 etc and 5.0 for without us asking you to pay again.
Why don't you just set up a bank account in the Eurozone
There are many Ardour users within the Eurozone, and having a banking presence there would allow us to benefit from the modern, highly capable and cheap inter-bank tranfer system that the EU has built.
However, setting up a bank account in a different country without substantial fees is not trivial, and moving the money out of the country (or EU) is still remarkably expensive (PayPal is actually much cheaper for such things, which is partly why we use it). In addition, there is a lack of information about easy ways for an "e-commerce" site (like ardour.org) to interact with this banking system (i.e. to be notified that a particular transaction has taken place, and is associated with a specific order).
We may explore this option in the future, but for now, there is just a lot of bureaucratic obstacles to making it work well.