As someone who writes songs that tend between 6-12 mins long, I appreciate this convo.
Really interesting points all around.
So, would the main question be…
What would be a fair way to reward artists on a per-minute-streamed basis, while also rewarding listeners with ownership after a certain amount of time listened?
I believe the original idea behind the stream2own model was to break the average price of a digital download (~$1 or so) into different streaming costs that grew exponentially as people listened. This helps incentivize discovery, while rewarding additional listens. With that being said, maybe we could take this same idea, crunch some numbers, and make it fit on a per-minute-streamed basis as @LLK was beginning to suggest?
Interested to hear from some of the originators of this idea, maybe @peter or @richjensen would know, as maybe they could offer some input and critiques into this new potential pay structure that Resonate could maybe look at down the road.
I could share some number crunching of my own to start, if people think that would be relevant, but a few issues we may have to solve for that I am thinking of already would be…
Making sure that this doesn’t increase average cost to the listener by too much (I believe listeners are already asking about Resonate’s benefit for them compared to other streaming services.)
If we had a tiered pay-per-minute structure, it may not bode well if people are being charged 2 different rates throughout the same track (Ex. 3 minutes out of a 4 minute song cost $0.0006/minute, and the 4th minute of that same track costs $0.0016?) - not to mention maybe having to deal with micropayments here to keep costs reasonable for listeners.
I think there’s something here that Resonate could implement down the line, to help benefit all types of work on Resonate as mentioned above, so I am interested in keeping this conversation going.
I’ve long supported the idea of multiple payment/listening models. The risk of course is friction, as the potential to overwhelm people with a complex option will result in indecision and inaction.
The steps I’d imagine we’d go through is:
- discovery phase – open discussions as to all potential models
- vote on the top two or three
- technical analysis to the costs of implementation
- implementation and/or revision based on cost/complexity
Having multiple models available is very complex, as there’s both the heavy investment in adapting the infrastructure, plus the marketing and education side of it, which is a not a small challenge against the “$10 all you can eat” buffet model that our competitors have.
Hope that helps paint a picture of how this would unfold. Given the current release schedule, I think this conversation could get started in a few months once the new player is out, as there wouldn’t be any way to consider this before hand, as its heavily dependent on the new User API which is to be completed soon.
I think there’s also the risk that one model just eats the others (which wouldn’t really be friction per se) and render them useless anyway. Typically I know we’ve discussed here in the past a user-centric sub model (much in the same way Soundcloud is trying to do) but we all know the limitations of such a system, and while it doesn’t answer a lot of problematics, I could easily see it being favored over S2O quite quickly.
This being said I wouldn’t necessarily mind, although I like stream 2 own I also see it as an issue because it’s tougher to explain than sub based models and it also means that payments are not cyclical which is something a lot of people find very important in age where they have gazillions subscriptions and need to track their spendings accurately. Having your music mean you’ve got to think about how much it costs you much in the same way you think about your energy bill can put off many people.
I still think S2O is a better model in the absolute, but it’s also definitely a tougher sell.
This is why I advocate for things that happen more “under the hood” that aren’t exactly related to “the method we use to pay” but rather “what we pay for and why” directely implemented in the listening system. I think it’s central to undermining the streaming current business model to say “not all stream/listens are equal” because it’s true. S2O partially answers that (ie. the more you listen the more it’s worth to you is already a big claim that “a listen” isn’t a value). But only partially since it still seems to assume that if I listen to two different tracks only once and for more than 45seconds, they’re the same value to me which is already a wrong assumption.
That’s why I was advertising for an incremental value system (as an idea amongst others based on other set of parameters). And yes to answer your question @Sam_Martyn the 4th CONSECUTIVE minute of listening to tracks are definitely worth more to listener’s attention just judging by the amount of people who stop listening to things I put on my bandcamp FOR FREE before the 70% mark. I can only assume that it means “OK I’ve listened to 60% of this, I get it I get what it is, it’s not worth my time to go any further”, and if it’s not worth their time, I can only assume it’s because that extra minute has to be extra worth it to them for them to get to the end, ie. it holds more value. As is if we make a “per minute” system where it’s “static per minute”, long songs still will eventually get screwed because they’re harder to get to the end because it doesn’t have the virtual incentive of “this is a different proposition than the previous song”.
We could also imagine incremental value if you listen to an entire album consecutively to also try to tackle the ever growing issue of “playlists rulling the world”, I don’t know, it would seem like a good incentive to listen to albums and full body of work “You support a musician more quickly if you listen to his entire album than if you put the song in the playlist on repeat” like, if 9 repeats of a song make an artist 1$, then 1 listen of the entire 9 tracks album consecutively gives him 1,5$.
These are all things where I’m just thinking of the problem before the solution and so even if the solution seems kind of “complicated”, it’s because it answers a real problem, but also, if these solutions seem “complicated”, what I like about them is… people do not have to think about them ! It’s all just the underlying way the “code” estimates value, it’s not them. (“the code” in this case is really just meant as “the structural expression of our ethics”, not as “this is super tech and complicated you wouldn’t get it” on the contrary)
We can emphasize after the fact when we present what makes Resonate stands apart how this really changes the game, not “how it makes it more complicated”. I mean look at NFTs, nobody understand what they are but people still jump on it just because they think there’s more value/money to be made. It’s really a matter of saying : “we’re pushing albums vs playlists” “we’re pushing a level playing field between more unusual, long and weird music vs stuff you can listen on repeat” etc.
The thing I like most with S2O is that there’s a threshold for ownership, I think it’s actually undersold in the current communication about it, but there’s something great about S2O which is : if after 9 listens you stop paying, then it basically stops the entire financial bubble of the majors driven songs that are being played over and over and generate an infinite amount of money with basically no ceiling. I think that’s the most revolutionnary aspect of S2O as a model, without clearly stating it, it puts a ceiling on “how much money a song can make” and that’s a real leftist idea, I don’t think songs should be able to create infinite amounts of money. I actually think that’s because of this ridiculous concept that we see so many “great numbers” about how the industry has never been better thanks to Spotify et al, the majors basically found a model where they can push a few songs, and since it’s based on how many listens and not how many people bought them (and who cares if they’re obsessive or not it shouldn’t mean it’s worth), you can artificially generate money out of the same users over and over and over again when you could argue that after 3 or 4 months of subscription they’ve basically paid for that song ten times already and shouldn’t be counted as “payments” anymore.
So S2O answers that question very elegantly, but it doesn’t mean we can’t answer it through different systems. We could answer it in a user-centric sub model by saying that after a song generated a certain threshold of payment from a user subscription, say, someone listened to a song 100 times (it’s A LOT), this user doesn’t “count” as a listener anymore for example (he’s “paid” for it enough if you will) so it relieves the listener of the pressure of being like “shit, the more I listen to people, the less money I give to all the artists I like”, no he can just listen to whatever he loves, and he knows at some point those who got the equivalent of 1€/song (or 2! or 10! or 100! Whatever, the threshold is a question we should discuss together to see how to help sustain small indie artists while systemically making predatory infinite growth behavior impossible) are taken out of the equation and he’s now helping sustaining the other new artists he’s discovering or that he hasn’t financially supported as much through his listening habits.
I think this could be an interesting “counterweight” to the criticism you hear the most about user centric : “you mean the more I listen to music each month, the less I pay each artist I listen to?” (it is a very valid criticism)
Sure I see how a looot of labels (not even discussing majors) who’ve based their entire streaming business model on creating unhealthy “repeat button” behaviors to have steady streams of income basically forever would howl at the moon for even suggesting this, but I don’t think that’s who we should catter for rather than the incredible number of artists left on the side who have basically 0 solution right now to make listening to their work worth anything, and have the choice of making no money through spotify, or selling on bandcamp to only hardcore fans who still buy music.
We could sit in the middle and find alternatives, I think there are many possibilities and at no point do I want to sound like I found them. I can already imagine very valid criticism of everything I just proposed, but my main point is : we won’t have more to give for the poorer and more indie/unknown artists without simultaneously setting a limit that says “how much is enough money” as well on the top tier of those who make the most. And deciding “how much is enough” always creates friction and weird complex solutions.
Sorry for the super long post everybody, I hope this isn’t too tedious of a read.
For me personally, and for simplicity’s sake, I think that one payment/listening model is the way to go.
For me, the next question, which we have touched on in this thread (and others for that matter), is what is the best one model that Resonate could have? Considering the fair crediting of longer works issue, I feel like a stream2own setup based on minutes listened vs. streams would be the way to go, but it would just be a matter of what that would look like in technical terms, and how that would play out in practice.
Either way, I definitely think that we are in the “discovery phase” on this still, and I think it’s important that we utilize and advertise the current model first for a little while before making any charges.
Definitely enjoying the conversation on this, so thank you for your input as well!
@LLK I love that this forum format welcomes “long” replies. As I’m reading long passages here in the forum, I get this lovely feeling that Resonate is like a book we’re all writing together. I want to explore, imagine possibilities, go down winding roads.
That sense of “we’re writing the future archives of Resonate right now” inspires me to dream and makes me hopeful and confident.
Definitely a lot to digest here, but I love how much you’re thinking, and all of the possible solutions you are bringing. I read all of the post, and it’s great! Thanks!
For me, one streaming model for all of Resonate would make the most sense, both from a technical, and messaging standpoint, but I think what that model ultimately looks like, so that we can support all kind of works decently, is still up for debate via this conversation, and others that have happened on this forum in the past.
When you talk about listener behavior and the assumptions around it, I think you bring up a lot of great points, but as you allude to, how much of this would be solving problems based on assumptions, rather than making improvements off of actual listener behavior that we observe and adapt to over time?
I totally agree that Resonate’s ownership opportunities, both from listening and ownership as a part of the co-op overall are definitely major differentiators for Resonate over a lot of streaming platforms, and I agree that these ownership opportunities could be communicated a lot better as well.
I am not sure if this is much of a point to have a conversation over in this thread, but one thing I want to also throw out there is the fact that if Resonate wants to remain competitive as a viable streaming option for listeners, I find it hard to think that streaming income alone would give artists enough money to live off of. I hope I am wrong with this assumption, but I also see an opportunity for Resonate to expand here by eventually implementing other models and opportunities for artists to generate more income. Resonate could have things like the ability to sell merchandise and tickets straight from your artist page/the Resonate player, or developing additional communication and community tools (like the forum) that artists could use to deepen their relationships with their fan base to use that to create more opportunities to exchange value between fans and artists.
In this case, streaming wouldn’t have to be the end all-be all for artist income, but could instead be the gateway to building a loyal fan base for artists who can eventually be financially supported by these relationships as well, in addition to streaming.
That’s definitely a whole other conversation for a new topic, but just another way that Resonate could still remain competitive on the streaming front, while also working toward the ultimate goal of giving creators a chance at a livable income from their craft.
Financial viability and offering a good deal for listeners is essential. Aside from the ethical benefits, cooperatives drew me in because they proved that democratically-owned-and-run organizations could compete in the market as it exists, and even run the capitalists out of business. Sure, we can pursue some sort of blue ocean strategy, but I’m also deeply interested in simply how we can be better than the alternatives, like we’re talking about.
My dream for starting a worker-owned coffeehouse was that we would serve top-notch coffee to business bigwigs (among everyone else) and these folks would never know it was a co-op. They just went there caus the coffee ruled. One day they may ask to speak with the manager and get a big surprise.
We definitely need to establish deeper relationships with members and with those folks out there who will support us for who we are, but in the long run, I want us to not only be the more democratic option – also simply the better platform.
To make it a bit more clear, the coffeehouse dream anecdote wasn’t about it being impossible for folks to know that it was a co-op haha. Leaning into the co-op branding can be a positive thing – notice how REI has recently added “co-op” back into its name after years of just being “REI”.
Being a co-op should be a mark of pride. My point above was that I found it charming the idea that even folks who didn’t care that it was a co-op would still be patrons simply because it was a heck of a good business. As a comparison, the majority of people use capitalist services not because they “believe in capitalism and want to express their support”, they just do it because its a service they need. If we can be appealing in the same way while thriving as a resolute democratic business, that’s exciting to me.
@Hakanto, +1,000,000,000 (a lot lol) to both of your replies!
My vision for Resonate is that it can become the premier streaming service for both artists, and listeners. So like you said, providing a quality and financially viable service is key to increasing our reach and creating a fairer system for everyone to be a part of!
Chiming back in here with my idea, for what it’s worth, as I’ve seen other streaming services do this and it makes sense across genres!
PERCENTAGE OF THE WHOLE.
So if your song is 40% or 50% listened it counts as a stream. This why song duration is out of the equation. Isn’t that simpler?
Whatever percentage is set, it’s not minutes based. Personally I feel like if some one listens to 40% of my track- no matter how long the track is, they’ve still had that percentage of the whole.
Say it with me: PERCENTAGE OF THE WHOLE.
I think that it could work like this in terms of stream to own payment;
If they engage with the track and play more than 40% it counts as, because they could accidentally stream or be just checking it out to find out if it is the one they wanted/thought of/ etc. So again, if you play 40% of something or more it counts. This way minutes are not tabulated, and we are not back to counting down and dealing with different genres having shorter or longer stuff. Like by the minutes model means punk bands will suffer. They’ve got short 2 min songs. Its more egalitarian to do a percentage of the whole. So then if we pay artists by each stream, as stream counting as anything more than 40%, it should work?
Okay, yea I can see that. So the same stream2own setup that is currently used, but instead of qualifying a play after listening to 45 seconds of the song, you have to listen to 40% of the song in order for a stream to count?
I think it would assume a modified pay scale to stream 2 own, otherwise this % played model would yield less for long form artists as they would end up with fewer paid plays? Unless for long form tracks/podcasts to be rewarded they would jump to a ‘buy now’ prompt after 40%?
I think, as @Nick_M mentions, percentage of play misses the mark because it (then again) makes it near impossible for long form music (over 5 minutes and then over 10 minutes etc.) to be rewarded on the same ground as short form music.
In the history of music, short form music has never suffered from being short, in the streaming era, it’s even worse, since streaming allows very easily to put a song you like on repeat, and since the whole experience is only 2 minutes long, you can judge quicker if you want to listen to 8 minutes of it (after 2 minutes : do I like it ? yes ! Maybe I’ll put it again !), when an 8 minutes song will most likely not be listened to twice, let alone four times.
A percentage of listen means the 10 minutes song will be rewarded with the price of a “20% listen”, and a 2 minutes song will be rewarded with the price of a “100% listen”.
I think the reason you believe punk songs (or any short songs of any kind) would suffer, is because you see “a listen” as the moment where the song has reached its value point. This is only real in the current Spotify (or even in the current Stream 2 Own) model.
Let’s break it down between different systems :
Current Spotify model : after x seconds, listening to a track is counted as “a listen”. No matter how long the song is, you make the same money, ie. “the song” is the product, and the length is irrelevant. Nice conceptually, but in application, this means a lot of longer and weirder songs get screwed because they have less replay value, and since the value is not placed on “appreciation of the song” but “a listen that lasts more than x seconds”, the short songs (even the punk ones !) win and are favored. It’s especially true because, since Spotify doesn’t put a limit on how much money a song can make, the more a “2 minutes song” is being listened to, the more it eats a share of the global money pool, the more it devalues the longer songs you listen to only once or twice. Meaning Spotify effectively is pushing certain forms of art.
Current Stream 2 Own model : The value is placed on “how much you listen to a song” (considered a demonstration of your true attachement to this music, I’ll get back to that). After 9 plays, you paid 1$/£/€, it’s the price of the song, you know own it. While it puts a nice number of barriers (songs can’t generate infinite amount of money out of users, a decent pay is reached way quicker etc.), it’s still clearly favoring short (even punk ones !) songs : in 18 minutes, the punk band made 1€, when it’ll take 1h30 of listening time for the “we make 10 minutes songs” band to make the same amount. It also effectively means that if I’ve listened the 10 minute song twice, (so for a longer period of time than if I had listened to the punk song 9 times !), I sill only will have paid only a fraction (something like 0,008$/£/€ vs 1€ it’s a differential for roughly the same listening time that amounts to 125 times more money for the Punk band !).
Now the proposed percentage of play system : Here the value is based on percentage of listen (ie. “how much of what I wrote has been consumed by the listener, wether he liked it or not” and once again “the song” is the product no matter how long, like on Spotify). It puts us in a weird spot in terms of trying to define why we value things like that. I get the premise : all forms of art are equal, one should not be favored with a more rewarding system over another (in this case it’s considered that an incrementally progressive value per minute would be detrimental to short form songs because they never reach the threshold were the value starts growing) and it’s not because you made something longer that it required more workforce / expertise / crafstmanship, than if I made it 10 minutes long just for the sake of it. Few ! okay, that’s a very deep consideration and I think maybe we should take a step back and after that I’ll explain where I stand on this issue. However where it gets weird is : ok, all songs are equal products in principle (their value is determined by what’s in them, not how long it last) but… somehow their VALUE (ie. what the song is worth in terms of money) is based on the percentage (NOT the amount of time which is fixed and experienced by all humans similarly, but a percentage, which is widely varying from one song to another depending on its length) of how much the song has been experienced. Here to me there’s an inconscious paradox because we say “all songs are a product and they shouldn’t be rewarded on how long they are” only to then push a system that rewards them more on… how short they are.
Because that’s the thing with percentage : 5% of 1minute is worth MORE than 5% of 10 minutes even if the first means skipping after 3seconds, and the other means skipping after 30sec. If I listen to the punk band and the long-form music band on after another, and it takes me about 1 minute (for the sake of clarity, input any amount you want), to decide I don’t like it. The Punk Band recieves 50% of the money, and the “long form” music only recieves 10% ? When I’ve judged both on exactly the same amount of time ? I don’t find it fair at all, and it actually reinforce short form art over long form and I don’t think we want that, most likely you’d start to see a lot of artists complain about it. Especially since we know, in the age of the attention war on the internet, a 10 minutes song is 5 times more likely to be interrupted by something than the 2 minutes one (actually statistically even more but whatever), which means where the punk band could potentially often get its 100%, the long form one would almost never get it.
So I don’t think percentage of play is a good system at all.
Ok now, notice how everytime I’ve mentioned “what we put value on / what we reward”. I think it’s where it’s all being played out really, I think that’s what resonate or any other streaming platform that aims for ethical payments should focus its thought process on.
The first thing to state is this : Art by definition shouldn’t have to be paid for or have its value based on any “technical” criteria (which is what we’re all trying to do since the start of this topic). Art’s value shouldn’t be defined by how much money was poured into the project, it shouldn’t be defined by how many people got involved, it shouldn’t be defined by how long it is, how short it is, it shouldn’t be defined by how much it’s been played, and it shouldn’t be defined by how many people like it. None of that should define the destiny of an art piece and the capacity of its maker to live in dignity.
This is because only in a capitalist world where value is placed on perception of scarcity, private owned control of means of production, propagandist discourse that favor individualism other shared endevaours, mythos about “talent” and “genius” and “self made men” and “meritocracy”, only in such a world, does an artist (and in fact : an individual) needs to prove he can contribute in a meaningful way to global productivity (ie. reach more fans > more fans mean more workforce money to gather in one place > means we can then do bigger things > meaning we can now hire more people > the global economy grows) before he gets rewarded for his input. I’m even of the opinion that art of any form should be paid for under the form of UBI, and that’s all.
It might seem like a stretch to discuss issues this broad, but it’s not, it’s at the center of everything we’re doing here : we need to be conscious that Resonate is happening not outside but within a capitalist frame that means anyone who decide to dedicate a large portion of his time to music will likely suffer from it in the form of not being paid back the amount of efforts, time and money s.he put into it. I personally don’t care that this person’s art is shit or genius, I’d want him/her to get some form of compensation if possible, on criterias not based on capitalist’s takes of what makes are good or bad.
We need to consider this because however we spin it, we are going to do something particularly unhealthy in the end : we are going to put “a value” in terms of “money” on “the fact someone listened to something”. This is why I raise so many points here and why I make these long exhausting (trust me I’m super tired just writing this) posts. Because the whole premise IS not natural, it IS NOT healthy or simple, it’s a bad premise that stems from living in a dark predatory world. We’re just putting a crutch on a bigger problem, so we need to do it well, so well in fact as to give ourselves the power to even undermine the initial logic of our oppressors. And this requires some complicated thinking.
Now, considering all that, I’ll come back to my initial proposition and compare it to all the above.
Each minute (or each second if you feel like minutes are arbitrary and you want something more accurate of time listened to, but I think minutes might be easier to sort out and make for a clearer global image and accountability) listened to is paid for, each consecutive minute listened to is paid for a little more. Now, where does that put the “money-value” ? Here goes. The point of this system would be to say :
The artpiece itself can not be valued, we can’t say wether it’s worth this or that, based on ANY “objective” criteria, and in an ideal world, it should be free. However, the money available on Resonate to pay artists is not global money that comes from the sky, it’s the money of its users, and their behavior should dictate where the money is directed to in the most accurate and redistributed way. Their behavior can be estimated in one fixed and universal way which is the way they decide to allocate their limited time on earth. If someone decides to listen to a single piece of art for 10 minutes, surely, this piece of art held some kind of value to him/her, therefore, a transaction should be performed for these 10 minutes of listen. If someone decides to listen to a single 2 minutes piece of art 5 consecutives times, surely, this piece of art held some kind of value him/her, therefore, a transaction should be performed and should be SIMILAR to the 10 minutes of listen for a single piece, since it’s the same amount of time.
The thing is : this is already what’s happening for the 2 minute song on Resonate ! Stream 2 Own is made such that it’s an exponential scale that says every new listen is worth twice more. My point would be to rework that scale to inforce it on consecutive listens of minutes. This way, if you listened to the Punk song 5 times in a row, you pay the same amount to the punk band than if you listen to the 10 minutes song one time.
Sure you could argue that’s favoring the long song, but… who are we to say the long song is more or less worth “in absolute value” than the punk song ? That’s litterally an impossible job, however, the listener can value that he spent 10 minutes of his finite time in life listening to the same artist.
In the same spirit, I’d be all for, say, if someone listens to a whole album consecutively. So, let’s imagine the Punk album is 20 minutes long and the long form music album… also ! Because that happens a lot (A Side - 10 minutes, B-Side - 10 minutes). Well there you go, nobody’s being disadvantaged now, you’ve got two albums, requiring exactly the same amount of listening time, and getting the same amount of money if listened to in full.
Now on to the next thing because remember, our point is to undermine the idea that some artists are (infinitely litterally) more deserving than others we still need a threshold past which the song stop generating money. Currently Stream 2 Own is that threshold and it’s a nice one because it means the user get ownership of their catalogue which is great because it can give them more control of what’s worth to them (if they can download it, otherwise it makes no sense, but I think they can on Resonate?).
However let’s not kid ourselves, “ownership” is not a very meaningful thing to a lot of users now, and if Resonate happened to become bigger and more powerful over time, it’d start gaining users who come from Spotify and have absolutely no desire to “own” their music, just experience it. Which is why I seem to remember there being propositions of a “user centric” model of payements. And if there’s a user centric model of payement, there’s no more S2O, which means we’re back with the crappy system of infinite money made out of one song and one user. I think it’s a really awful system and we should consider that after a while, a user has paid “enough” for a work. And that is because, again, the money doesn’t fall from the sky, it’s a finite amount out of the users pool on Resonate, and it should be allocated with care. Just because someone is getting obsessive with xxxx Punk Band or Long-Form-Music band on the platform, doesn’t mean it should be detrimental to all the other artists he listens to on this platform, doesn’t mean they didn’t put their workforce into their work and deserve less of a payement. If he wants to support xxxx Punk Band or whatever, he should probably go buy their merch, buy their physical albums, get a direct fans-to-band subcription on Bandcamp and go see them live etc. So really, the point would be “ok, this song / album has made xxxx amount out of this one user, which is the threshold past which we consider this user has “paid” for this music”.
I wonder if we could create some sense of ownership out of this like a best of both world S2O + User Centric, say, if you’ve paid past a threshold an artist’s song, you can listen to it offline on a Resonate app or something? Don’t know. But either way, I think it’s critical to think that a song shouldn’t be able to make more than a certain amount of money per user. If we don’t do that, it’ll just end like Spotify even despite our best efforts to make it different. For now S2O protects us from this, but if we move to different models, we should consider it.
This was awfully long, but I thought about this for so long, through and through. The way streaming forces us to think about music is, in my opinion, a trap, and it’s very difficult to get ourselves out of it. We need to define, as clearly as possible, what it is we want, what kind of society we’re trying to build, so that we don’t just look revolutionary, but actually are a little. I’d love Resonate to be both a brilliant and “hassle-free” user experience, while making it almost impossible for a business model like Spotify to justify its existence and business model in comparaison to ours. This won’t come without some serious under-the-hood critical thinking for us.
Thanks to all for keeping this discussion alive.
Thank you for this post, and I also really appreciate your awareness of Resonate within a capitalist society. To me, this is a crucial factor in determining the success of Resonate.
As you also allude to in your post, I personally want Resonate to be the premier streaming service in the world, but to do that, we need to acknowlwdge the current system, create and execute a fairer system within the realms of current societal norms, and then we can really begin to change the way people view music and other creative work by using our relevancy to create an even fairer and sustainable future for the industry, on our terms.
In our case, because users are ultimately providing the compensation for the time that they listen to a work, I also believe, like you, that Resonate’s job as a platform is to create a system that redistributes this compensation in the fairest and most accurate way as well. How listeners want to use their time/compensation (whichever artists/lengths of songs they want to listen to) should be up to them.
With all of this being said, I just wanted to summarize and clarify your thoughts, so let me know if/where I may misrepresent you.
You’re saying that as a result of the current constraints within our society, Resonate should value music based on (consecutive) time listened (probably per-minute makes the most sense) because this value is a direct exchange between an artist and a listener of the finite time that we have as humans, and should therefore be compensated appropriately.
@LLK, would you be able to explain this idea of “consecutive time listened” a little more clearly?
You believe that stream2own is potentially a good way to stop excessive payment (both from the user, and to the artist), but Resonate would just need to clarify how much listening time would qualify for this payment to stop happening, and for ownership (my definition: the ability for someone to listen to a song an unlimited amount of times, without having to pay for it, and to be able to download and listen to that track offline in a private setting) to occur.
A lot of great conversation happening in this thread, so I am interested to hear from you and others on how we can start to create a concrete plan to execute this new, more inclusive, streaming model.
Thanks a lot for taking the time to read through all this ! Yes, ok for the sake of clarity I’ll try to sort out my own thoughts and make it a clearer proposition. I’ll try to break it down in clear and precise terms.
Stream 2 Own is good because it serves two purposes : the artist gets paid the equivalent of a “download price” quicker (9 listens) vs Streaming (105 listens), and it avoids infinite amount of money being given to an artist just because 1 user listens to 1 song only. If a listener listens to a song 1050 times on Spotify it’ll get ten times more money from that single user and it’ll still be able to generate listens>money theoretically infinitely. in Stream 2 Own, if you listen to a song 1050 times it’ll remain 1€ thus leaving money to pay other artists and avoiding cattering to obsessive behavior.
Those two things are a great + for Stream 2 Own and definitely beat Spotify in terms of fairness and ethics.
Now this being said, Stream 2 Own is also bad (in : as bad as normal streaming) because it favors and values short songs much more : A short 2 minutes song creates 1€ of value in 18 minutes. a long 20 minutes song needs 3 hours of listening time to generate the same 1€. This is terrible maths. Which means it would already be better to switch Stream 2 Own to a minute based system.
However, it can’t happen without a lot of thinking, the problematics to imagine are :
A minute based systems implies that we need to rethink the numbers, and it’s simple math (but complex answers) : When do we say we reach 1€ ? In the current system it’s 9 times. Ok. So What we could do is find some numbers to get the median or average length of music pieces on the bigger services so that we start from somewhere (for the sake of the argument, let’s say it’s 4 minutes), multiply this by 9 (that would be 36 minutes), and there, you already has something better : Everytime someone listens to a piece of music for 36 minutes, it’s paid for 1€, with an exponential curve every minute the more he listens to it. 36 minutes Is. A. Lot. of listening time ! But it can be reached in 3 listens by a 12 minutes music piece ! In comparaison on Spotify, it would take 21 HOURS, note here that with this system the value gap / fairness between Spotify and Resonate is sometimes higher, sometimes lower than with the current S2O. The current model pays artists 11.6 times quicker (all of them), but in terms of actual time, this model would pay the 2 minute artists only 6 times quicker (already a pretty substantial increase), and it would pay the 12 minutes artists 35 TIMES quicker than on Spotify (And it wouldn’t change anything for the 4 minutes artists, it’d be 11.6 times quicker like in the current S2O model). That’s what I call fairness and levelling the playing field, here, we’re actually adressing a real problem and bringing a solution, a solution that’s beneficial to all, but even more to those who are the most left on the side by the current model.
Currently S2O only imports the exact same inequalities of Spotify and makes the baseline a little better without adressing them.
It’s as if in your company, the CEO is paid 3 millions and the employees are paid 1500€/month, and the CEO raises everyone’s pay by 50% including his. Now the employees make 2250€/month (great !) but the CEO makes 4.5 millions now (less great !). This is what is likely to happen with Resonate’s current model (not that bad obviously, but it’s the idea).
So I hope this was clear, for the tl;dr people, here it is in one short sentence :
You’ve paid 1€ to an artist everytime you’ve listened to a song for 36 minutes (9 times the [imaginary average song of 4 minutes insert the right number here]), and you own it.
That’s the baseline for per minute payment.
This effectively mean that every minute you listen to of a song is worth more than the previous one.
Now there’s a whole other point which we might have to discuss later even if it’s not a very enjoyable thought which is :
This is all under the assumption that people still want ownership of their songs, and that Stream 2 Own is the right model to reach a critical mass of music-lovers that’ll make Resonate stronger as an ecosystem and platform.
Althought I love S2O, I doubt that.
Which means if we were to switch to a sub based, user centric model, we’d have to take another set of tough decisions to level the playing field which would be :
Set a limit on how much money can be made out of one song by an artist from a customer.
In Stream 2 Own this limit is effectively set : 1€/$/£ but it’s a transaction and you own the song.
Maybe in a sub based model, it could just be : you don’t own the song (can’t download it), but you can listen to it offline (it’s almost like you own it) once you’ve past the 36 minutes threshold of listening to it, and no % of your subscription is now given to this artist for that specific song. This would be closest I could see to S2O under sub form.
I could see this model work pretty well in conjonction with Bandcamp, which would be “the store where you go to support the artists you trully love and buy their merch and physical goods etc.” and Resonate which would be “the place where you give a fair payments to the artists you discover and enjoy to listen every once in a while”.
However a user centric model would also be another entire can of worms.
Quick example : In January User X listened to 3 bands, A, B and C, except he listened to a loooot of A, quite a lot of B, and a reasonable amount of C but less than the first 2. So A got most of the money of the sub that month, B got a good amount, C got a little less. Now the next month, let’s say User X has reached the max amount he could pay to A, so A doesn’t recieve more money in February, but now he doesn’t listen to B and C anymore, he listens to new bands in February (D et E). But he listens to them less than B and C in January because this time he didn’t have a lot of time for music. It effectively means that even though he listened to D and E less, they’ll get more money than B and C.
It’s not great. It’s better than 99% of what’s out there. But it’s still not great.
So should we “queue” listening numbers and remunerate progressively so that past listens don’t get screwed other new listens ? I guess this would quite complicated to setup and unclear in many ways. So there are many questions (mainly because : Sub Based Model suck, repeat after me !). But I still think we need to imagine an “alternative sub based model” that could be fairer overall if at some point we see S2O is a dead end that’s just too at odds with critical mass realities and expectations of a music streaming service.
Edit: there’s also another point but I’m too exhausted today to bring it up and it’s already developped in the post above so I’ll leave it at that :
I wouldn’t mind if the 36 minutes threshold wasn’t actually “per song” but “per artist”. As in : if you listen to a 36 minutes long 13 songs Punk Album once > 1€. If you listen to a 36 minutes long Prog Rock 3 Long Songs album once > 1€. That would seem totally fair to me and it would push people away from the “Playlist World Only” since they’d know they’d be supporting artists more if they listened to their full albums.
So here’s my current dream bottomline :
1€/£/$ everytime an artist has been listened to for 36 minutes.
I agree with a lot of the way you are thinking, especially with your first point in your explanation of consecutive time listened.
I also agree that we should have a system where listeners pay 1€ to an artist everytime they’ve listened to a song for 36 (X) minutes (9 - wondering why Resonate picked 9 here too times the average length of a track - either average length in general, or ideally on Resonate itself [this could be a dynamic value too based on the current and future average length of work on the Resonate platform]), and then they own it.
My only caveat to your explanation with this is that we could go by your thoughts of having it set so that every minute a person listens to a song, they pay an exponentially higher amount, or, for simplicity’s sake, we could have it set up so that listeners pay $X.XXX/minute during their first 4 minutes of listening, and then $Y.YYY/minute during their next 4 minutes of listening, and so on until their 9th 4 minutes of listening.
One thing that we would need to consider with this setup however is that if a song, or in most cases maybe a podcast, is greater than 36 minutes long, is it fair that the listener would have paid the creator 1€ after listening to the work once, and does it make sense that they would own it after 1 listen as long as it’s >36 minutes? That seems like it could get pricey pretty quick for listeners in a truly longer form context, so maybe something to hash out there.
As to your second point, as it relates to Resonate’s stream2own model and “the assumption that people still want ownership of their songs,” I personally don’t believe that ownership is that relevant to at least the “popular” world anymore either, but the ability to listen to a song an unlimited number of times for 1€, while also having the option for ownership for people who actually care about it, are both advantages from the stream2own model, and therefore, I don’t think we would even have to go down the user-centric paths that you propose.
Now, even the fact that you could listen to a track an unlimited number of times for only 1€ may not be that much of a benefit for the mainstream listener either, but without making any assumptions, it would be interesting to observe their listening habits as they could ultimately spend less money at Resonate than on another streaming service if their listening is often more exploratory (a few plays and then on to the next track), or if their listening habits are centered around only listening to a handful of tracks over and over again, then even if they listened to the same 5 tracks on Spotify on repeat, they would theoretically be paying an average of $1.99/month per track! Assuming they only listen to 5 tracks each month, and are paying $9.99/month for their streaming service.
As it relates to podcasting and other much longer forms of work, a question to first ask is, “Does Resonate want to be a viable platform for podcasting and, in our case, >36 minute long works?” If the answer is yes, then maybe also having a user-centric subscription model is beneficial in this case, or perhaps we could assimilate to Ampled’s business model here and have listeners “subscribe” to longer-form creators’ content for X€/month, in addition to stream2own on a per-minute basis?
With all of that said, I am hoping that there is something within the stream2own model for everyone, even for podcasting and longer form works somehow, but I would be interested to observe more users’ listening habits and desires for ownership in this respect, and hey, depending on a certain listener, and their willingness (or lack thereof) to pay creators, maybe at some point it’s okay that Resonate isn’t for them?
I like your bottom line thoughts, but would only question the fact that if you’re only paying artists on a per-minute basis, regardless of what work is being consumed, does this remove the ownership portion of stream2own then? How would you determine ownership of a work if you are only paying the artist directly for minutes listened?
One idea I just thought of would be that for every 36 (X) minutes you listen to an artist, you get 1 credit toward ownership of their work. Then, this credit could be used to own any 1 track from that artist that you enjoy the most, or maybe listeners could save these credits and then use them in bulk to own full-albums, or even merchandise, or tickets from that artist, depending on how many credits they have for each artist…
That may be an interesting conversation for an entirely different topic, but for simplicity’s sake, I am thinking we could just run with the stream2own model, but on a minutes streamed2own basis (36 (X) minutes of listening time means that you now own the track), instead of a play count basis.
A lot to digest here, but really interesting conversation nonetheless.
What are others’ thoughts on this?
@jpick, I believe you got us kicked off on this awesome and important topic of fair compensation for longer-form work, so I would love to hear yours and others’ thoughts and perspectives on things as well!
I actually quite like this idea as it relates to some other thoughts I had (I’ll explain right after), especially when it could be implemented in a simple “favorites” way that’s not disruptive to the usual “flow” of listeners (even on other platforms). You could always have near each song a sort of “favorite” box that you can click on, if you’ve got “listening time” credits (which should always be clearly displayed somewhere on the interface), you can click that button and BOOM you own the song, if you don’t have credits, you can still click that button and the song will be queued for when you next have credit (you could check your queue at anytime and it’d be like a “wishlist” on any modern shop website).
What I like about this system and that answers a big grief I have with all streaming services is : ownership then wouldn’t be based on “how many listens” or “the longer song” or whatever, it would go to where the listeners think it matters most. This album has a 3 minutes track that’s kinda weird and you wouldn’t want to listen to it more than twice but it was still your favorite ? You can own that one, EVEN if it’s not the one you listened to the most or the longer : You decide where you place the value AND it doesn’t change anything to how much the artist is remunerated. Also, it’s a system that could easily be applied as well in the idea of a user-centric sub based model (just decide which song you want to be able to listen to offline once you’ve got enough credits, if you pay 10€/month, you get 10 songs a month, if you pay a 20€/month sub you get 20 songs offline a month and so on.)
Following that idea we could consider that “ownership credits” are decorelated completely from payment to the artist.
As an artist, I don’t care wether when someone pays me 1€, it buys the 3rd or the 4th song of my album, or if it buys nothing, or whatever. As long as I get 1€ I’m a lucky artist already.
Anyway, yes it’s a very interesting idea, and also, for communication purposes : WOW doesn’t that credit thing just sounds like “gamification” of music listening ? Great ! Now we know what Wired and Vice will be able to talk about instead of all the social reflections on music community.
Anyhow, to me there’s clearly a problem with the “x listens/minutes / song” system, because it catters to obsessive behaviors and I see absolutely no reason why someone who listens to one song 9 times should be considered more worth of paying 1€/$/£ to an artist than someone who listens to an entire 9 tracks album from start to finish once. There’s really a deep and concerning flaw about that reasoning that favors singles (again ! So much logic are ingrained in our brains without us even realizing they are) over long form, it favors artist plugging one track over and over instead of letting them express themselves through diversity, and I think Resonate should aim to champion diversity.
About that specific point, I decided completely arbitrary because it’s a simple unit of measurement for the increments to be “a minute” but it could be “30sec” it could be “2 minutes” it could be “4 minutes” it could even be “the actual average length of a song”, this would just need to be backed up by numbers, I can go fetch some data if I have time as I think Resonate might not yet have enough of its own data to make a fair assessement.
I still think the longer each “payment step” will be, the more short songs will end up being favored, but slightly longer steps could also possibly help longer songs (like, if you reach the 33rd minute of listening time you’re already on the highest payment tiers before ownership/1€, while in my system, you still have 2 more “steps” to pass to reach the max payment). So I don’t have a problem with slightly longer increments, granted they don’t favor 2 minutes songs.
AH podcasts ! Damn them.
My personnal take : Resonate should not deal with podcasts in any way because they are completely different things than music, experienced and created completely differently, with completely different goals.
Podcast can be informative, or it can be educative, or it can be music reviewing, or it can be just a bunch of people talking about stuff (like… 90% of podcasts). All of these are already recouping (take a deep breath) : Press/Information Sector, Education, Radio, Cultural Journalism, Communication People… Damn ! We’re far from “people who make one form of art through a shared medium which is just the air vibrating at different speeds”.
So in my opinion podcasts are a trap, and “the value” of podcast is a trap. The reason why Spotify is currently pushing for podcasts is because they have an hegemonic stance and they want control of all things audio on the internet. This is not only bad it’s a nightmare. Podcast will ultimately most likely vampirize music revenue, and Spotify is probably betting on people listening to more podcasts than music which will help with paying artists less and finally making that ponzy-scheme of a money sinkhole maybe a little profitable at some point.
Let’s let a podcast enthusiast platform try to figure out a sane business model for podcasts (I personally think the business model for podcasts should be dead simple. Since most of them are regular monthly / weekly things : monthly subscriptions to the podcasts you like. That’s how I finance the few rare ones I like.) but let’s at all cost avoid equating them to music or any other form of art for that matter. They’re work, no doubt about it, but they recoupe completely different realities that are impossible to put on the same plane as music. The only thing they share is that they end up in a .wav or .mp3 file but that’s not enough to consider them the same thing.
Now since I like to contradict myself :
I find it’s kinda fair frankly. 1€ paid for listening to something for 36 minutes ? I mean, yeah it’s pretty decent, I don’t think podcasters get paid that much.
What I doubt though is that anyone would care about owning a podcast or relistening to it because again, they’re very different things. But the value proposition of “if you’ve listened to this for this long give it 1€” still seems to hold up.
But then again, I’d rather have Resonate not propose podcasts so that we don’t get into a competition / clash between the completely different realities of musicians and podcasters. It would be great if we could solve all of this in one blow, but yeah, I think it’s maybe a bit too ambitious for a start.
I love this idea too.