I’ll add my 2 cents, which will be worth about … 2 cents. lol
As you’ve noted before, this is niche software in the first place. What percentage of people use DAWs? And of those, what percentage of them just happen to also be programmers – in ANY language? And of those, what percentage can do rocket sciency C++ AND have spare time AND would rather give that spare time to developing a DAW?
I don’t think changing the language or the license would change that fundamental equation.
You could get some cool add-ons via scripting if well-documented, especially if there is a standard graphics widget set usable in those scripts. (It doesn’t have to be very elaborate – just sliders, labels and buttons.) But core developers are going to be rare.
As a DAW hobbyist, given the approx 4 years between having to pay for Reaper releases, I actually pay more for Ardour than I do for Reaper. I’m happy to do it, since it supports good people doing good work. I also bought Mixbus even though I don’t use it, just because I know its based on Ardour, lol.
The license is good. Developers of the core will be rare just due to its nature. Make scripting abilities of ardour more well-known, and package some of the better community scripts with Ardour.
Ardour is great software, I really appreciate it, and I’m thankful to those who work on it.
A slightly different angle: Reapers most powerful advertising is Kenny Goia who does a constant stream of Reaper tutorials using the latest Reaper. Someone doing that for Ardour … now THAT would be powerful advertising. The more widespread and accessible it seems, the more people will be inspired to assist in whatever way. Also, reaper has a sort of playground where people can contribute and download scripts. Something like that would promote ardour scripting.
Maybe I could use a screen-video capture for the next song of my Dad’s I produce using Ardour and other FOSS software (e.g. LV2 and other plugins). It wouldn’t be the level of Kenny’s stuff, but it could be useful because it would be an entire workflow. I also produce sermons for my church using Ardour combined with Audacity, which might also be an interesting video. I have rather unique setups.
Anyway, I love Ardour. It’s great. It’s beyond me to contribute to the core even though I’m a programmer of sorts. But maybe I can make a video or two.