I Finally Paid for My Reaper Subscription! And McAfee Sucks.

Steve Levandoski
4 min readJan 31, 2024


Sometimes you just need someone to cut you a little bit of slack, a helping hand, an alley-oop. I had no disposable income. I thought it would take me two months to get a new job. Six at the most. Nope! Instead of income, I had eleven months of outgo. Choices had to be made. Belts tightened. Niceties jettisoned.

The first thing I got rid of was my McAfee antivirus. McaFee is the kind of friend who won’t take no for an answer, showing up hours early to the party while you’re still in the shower. No matter how many times I tried to delete McAfee, even after using their uninstall program, it would just reinstall itself and give me pop ups like this.

McAfee is the most aggressive of panhandlers

Meanwhile, I got a 911 call from my buddy Jay. Director Brian Wild tapped rockabilly singer and collage artist Mighty Joe Castro to provide the soundtrack for a booger monster called The Boog,” Joe needed collaborators to write and record the theme song.

Of course I was in. Who wouldn’t be? I already had everything I needed to record us in my basement, except for a reliable program like Pro Tools to mix and master the audio. I looked up programs like Cubase, and Studio One but they are all subscription based, and cost more than a month of Netflix. I didn’t have the money for that.

Reaper is nagware. On bootup, a prompt asks you to pay the piper, with a five second delay to let the guilt soak in. You are expected to pay for it, but they aren’t going to shut the lights off on you if you go past the trial period. I figured that I was only going to be unemployed for a couple months, so why not? I promised myself that I’d buy a subscription with my first paycheck.

Oh wait. McAfee is chiming in again:

Stalker -”A person who harrasses or persecutes someone with unwanted and obsessive behavior.”

Reaper has a really cool backstory. The reason that the program is so affordable is because its developer, Justin Frankle, isn’t in it for the money. After selling Winamp, a legendary media player from the file sharing days, to AOL back in the early 2000’s, he didn’t need a paycheck anymore. Reaper is a pet project for him, just for funsies.

He says that he “programs out of frustration.” If a product isn’t up to his personal standard, he writes his own. He also picked up recording music as a hobby, and wasn’t feeling the existing software like Logic. Instead of complaining about it, he created Reaper, his take on the Digital Audio WorkStation (DAW). And he charges reasonable prices. $60 for private use and $225 for commercial economics if you make more than $20,000 a year on music. Its stock plug- ins gave me all the compressors, and eq, and reverbs that the Beatles had, and much, much, more. I had no excuses.

In this killer interview, Frankle asks the question,”Why can’t art also be functional? Carpentry can be art. Why not software?”

My answer is that he can call it anything he wants to, as long as I get to use the end product for my stuff. As symbiotic as Doozers and Fraggles.

Puting the “fee” in McAfee.

There is a difference between someone working for cash and someone doing it for more esoteric reasons, not only with affordability, but with functionality. When the focus isn’t on pulling every last dime out of your digital wallet, it falls into craft. Reaper is going to be my eternal DAW of choice. Not just because of them hooking me up with a deal. I love how customizable and light weight the software is. You can even put adorable little VU meters on every track and mixer channel. When you don’t need to bog it down with anti cracking software, or resource sucking animations, everything runs quickly. Rendering is almost instantaneous.

I was able to utilize my downtime mixing the soundtrack for a cool movie. I got to learn a lot about recording due to their great tutorials. And I would have never been able to do this without the program. Oh and with my first paycheck I got the license, just like I promised. The Boog is doing well at screenings such as the Asoria Horrorfest, and TerribleFest in Toronto. And we couldn’t have done it without Reaper. Hopefully, these tools will fall also into the hands of more talented musicians than me.

As for McAfee I wrote a poem:

McAfee, Get Away from Thee

By Steve Levandoski

McAfee, get away from thee

You’re like a stalker in bar

Who follows me to my car

Always popping on my screen

A toothy puppy that will not wean

And no matter how many times I hit delete

Who comes back to my screen as if on repeat

McAfee, get away from thee.