Does stream2own work for longform music? + exploring alternatives

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…:exploding_head:

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.


That could work. I feel like there’s definitely some sort of multi layered solution in here somewhere…

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I like the idea of a favorites/wishlist for listeners too, almost creating an incentive for themselves to listen more, and potentially dive in to some of the artist’s other works as well, to earn more artist credit to fund certain transactions for ownership.

I also think that “gamification” of music listening could be kind of cool/not bad. I am not sure how you meant your statement on that exactly, but either way, this would have to be done in a very fair, transparent, and beneficial way, for ALL parties involved in order for it to work well. I am already thinking of some really unique scenarios that could come from this that could bring a new element to the streaming world that would hopefully benefit everyone.

After reflecting on the idea for payment of 1€ for every 36 (X) minutes a listener plays of an artist, I would be interested to see how high costs may get for listeners, especially if they only listen to a handful of artists. I guess this would also incentivize “spreading the wealth around” as the more artists you listen to, the less you’d probably have to pay (in theory), which could be a good thing, but considering that payment is being made on an exponential scale as it relates to the consumption of all works by an artist combined, I just wouldn’t want costs to get too high for listeners. Resonate still needs to be competitive with the average monthly cost of other streaming services. I haven’t ran many numbers on this, or thought super hard on this yet, but just something to be aware of if Resonate decides to go this route.

Another thing I am thinking of when it comes to the idea of giving people 1 “ownership credit” for every 36 (X) minutes listened to an artist would be that is this model actually valuing music appropriately still, or is it just sort of like a delayed form of payment/exchange of credit with music as the intermediary for accumulating this value for listeners? For example, if I spend 10€ listening to your music, and then I use my 10 credits to “own” a 10€ T-shirt, am I ever really paying for the music, or am I just using my listening as a way to generate value for myself as a listener, but not the artist?

Granted, as long as the artist is actually selling their t-shirt for a profit, then this transaction will still ultimately net the artist money overall, but does this mean that music becomes more of the gateway to additional revenue, as opposed to a revenue stream itself?..does any of this make sense somewhere? lol

All in all, I just want to make sure that we are facilitiating the proper payment of artists for their craft, allowing artists to “upsell” to fans with additional opportunities, and doing this all while keeping listener costs reasonable and competitive!

Lastly, to touch on your point for podcasts, I think that podcasts could still be a part of Resonate, albeit separate from music, as you allude to. I also agree that the simplest form of payment for podcasters would be to only allow listeners to subscribe to podcasts on a fixed/recurring basis, with the ability to allow listeners “free trials/listens” of the podcast if the creators choose to do so. I believe that podcasts, if done considerately, could be a great addition to Resonate as many people seem to like them (I don’t have much of a desire to listen to them myself), and they could also allow for some intriguing conversations that people can learn from, latch on to, and connect with on a deeper level. It’s a shame that most mainstream podcasts seem to be very informal and uneducational, at least in my personal experience, but I would love for Resonate to keep the door open for those who can use podcasts as a way to connect with others on a deeper and more meaningful level. (Not to mention the increased opportunity for revenue for Resonate as well that could be put back into the community for platform improvements, member dividends, etc.)


Glad you like the idea!

When it comes to longer form works too (36+ minutes in length - like longer compilations, podcasts, and other things), maybe this is where your idea for a “percentage of the whole” could come into play, or that multilayered solution that you and @Nick_M were touching on!

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I really only meant gamification to describe the already established proposition : it’s already a “gamified” principle that a certain behavior (listening to artists for longer periods of time vs lots ot little singles) is rewarded with virtual “credits” after you gained enough “xp” (here in the form of listening time), credits that you can then spend in a “virtual shop” (here : the artist’s catalogue) to gain a digital reward (the song) of your choosing. If we were to assume this proposition, we could easily imagine using some of the usual interface tricks you see elsewhere, except now for actual retribution of the artists. For example, you could imagine a logo that’s always present on the page (a gauge of some sort) and whenever you listen to a track it showcases your current “listening time” on this artist and how much you need to listen to get 1 credit (which effectively means : how much you need to listen for the artist to recieve 1€). This would be hyper transparent and fair in a way, and I would see it as beneficial to all : to the listener because he knows how much he contributes to the artist, why, and when he can “own a song”, and to the artists because it pushes people to discover more of their work in a “discovery like” spirit (ie. not tied to having to listen to one song over and over again to “game the system” and finally create worth).

About the next point which is super important to make clear and get right, I think.

I think this is VERY tricky, and a dangerous slippery slope. Resonate needs to be somewhat competitive, but not absolutely competitive, especially compared to services like Spotify et al. This is because the reason Spotify can offer what it offers for the price that it offers it is based on them accepting to lose billions every year (and actually : to lose more billions the bigger they grow, it’s a money losing system) just so they can burry the competition and gain hegemonic power over the whole market of “things audio online” and then, possibly, maybe, make a profit (which absolutely no figures prove it might someday be possible). The only “real money” Spotify makes is from borrowing on the market from shareholders and venture fund expecting some end game where they get exponential return on investment, and that don’t care if the company itself loses billions on the way to get there as long as the stock price per share keeps sky rocketting every year. So the more Spotify loses money (as a business), the more it’s stock market valuation is high and profitable (as a stock market asset). Which is why Spotify execs and shareholders make so much money and artists do not.

So really, how do you compete in terms of affordability + value proposition with such a system ? The answer is you don’t. Resonate is NEVER going to compete on a “service vs service / price” ratio.

Even with the current Stream 2 Own model, if I listen to my favorite albums 9 times this month, and it happens that it’s a 16 tracks album, I’ve already spent 16$ which is 6$ more than a monthly Spotify sub. There’s just no way we can fight them on that ground.

And actually, if we end up considering that it really is a priority to fight spotify on their value proposition (which means : we accept that people don’t want to spend more than a regular 10$ a month on music), then it’s not that we can, it’s that we HAVE to either propose an alternate or even completely switch to a sub user centric model (while retaining all the “36 minutes / artist” system above). This is litterally the only way we could ever compete with Spotify in terms of average monthly cost.

Now, if we don’t, and if we stick to S2O, I think it’s only fair to say that competitiveness isn’t our main goal and our main goal, in a 180° backflip anticapitalist fashion, is first and foremost fairness.

I don’t understand why, if I listen to a whole album of 36 minutes, it’s less of a commitment on my part than if I listen to one song only that I really like for 36 minutes. In my book, it’s actually more of a commitment because it not only means that I liked “one song” randomly because the artists happened to make one good thing that strikes a chord, but it means I liked one of the songs on the album so much that I entrusted the capacity of the artist to enhance and develop this sonic universe throughout the course of an entire album, and actually listened to it all afterward, that’s a lot more trust than just putting a song on repeat !

So here the question is : if it’s fair… what would be our ethical reason not to pay it fairly ? And if we say “our ethical reason is it’s too damn expensive” then how are we more ethical than others ? And also, what’s our ethical reason to say “people who listens to a song on repeat means they like things more than if they listen to a whole album start to finish”? To me fairness is about thinking of worth first, and then trying to figure out a model where people get to pay the fair price.

If we’re talking music, it’s obvious to me that the fair price is higher than the current price (of, let’s remind ourselves how much we’re worth : 10$ for every music ever made.), the question is, how do we make current behaviors conscious of what they pay for, and a little more in control of how they share the money they spend amongst the artists they listen to ?

I think the friction/tension between “an actually fair price” (that would be S2O) and “the fact a lot of people are poor and they don’t see music as a prioritary expense item enough to actually pay that fair price” is why @richjensen was considering having two models side by side :

S2O - if ownership means something to you > artists get paid more, and you the user get more control over what you spend your money for
User Centric Sub - if ownership doesn’t mean enough to you to spend more each month and you just want a fairer Spotify for indie artists > artists get paid a little less but still a lot more and in a much more redistributed way than on Spotify, and you spend a lot less but don’t gain actual ownership, just a better user experience.

This way if users are self-conscious about being autonomous and not tied to a platform, they can be, S2O grants them downloads and full control of their music. If they are not concerned about taking back control of what they consume, but they still hate Spotify enough to get away, they can at least have a much less evil service controlled by artists with a focus on fairness and redistribution, while having, on their side, a service rather similar to Spotify.

I didn’t think about the “credits could be used for merch” and I don’t think it’s a completely workable idea because merch has its own cost, its own workforce problematics etc. While there’s a direct relationship between “listening to an artist for a while” and “picking a song to own/listen to offline”, there’s no direct relationship between “listening to an artist for a while” and then “buying a t-shirt” even if it has the logo of the artist on it and part of the money for the t-shirt is going back to the artist. The artist would get a lot less money because the t-shirt is an added cost, so while the 10€/$ are going straight into the artist’s pocket, for the t-shirt he’ll only make a fraction of the cost. I think merch should remain a way to ADD to the base system of Resonate and support artists more, and not part of the payement system which would allow for all kind of weird and not very enjoyable kind of trickery (depending, typically, on how easy it is for an artist to create merch and have a big profitable margin vs another more indie). If you go physical, it puts back the power of those who own the means of production into play in a very brutal way. Let’s keep that on the side and focus on what as a platform we would have control over.

Actually with the system we’re currently thinking about (except the T-Shirt/Merch part), the music is the actual gateway for revenue, the more people listen, the more you get money, except not too much, because there’s no reason people should pay you forever for making a cool song in 2021, and then money gets redistributed who other new artists who make cool things as well, even if people are not “as into it” as the previous one they liked.

However what’s decorelated with the “wishlist system”, is the fact that ownership is strictly based on “what did you listen most”, and I find that terrific, what if the song I want to own is precisely a song I didn’t listen to a lot because it’s super challenging or it’s very powerful and I don’t always want to live that kind of powerful experience? Well if I’ve listened to other work of the artists that are a little more “easy going”, I can decide to own the challenging / mind breaking one still. So to me, separating “ownership” from “what you’ve listened to most” is an absolute win in terms of fairness and “where we put the value”, because where we (Resonate) put the value doesn’t matter, what matters is where our listeners put the value. A system that says “no matter where you put the value the artists get the same amount of money, but YOU can choose what you own” seems like such a breakthrough to me, and such a powerful distanciation from capitalist take, that I’d really love to see it happen.

As for podcasts, as of now I don’t have anything super interesting to say but I’ll follow the conversation with interest. I just agree that it could bring users to the platform, but it’s also a lot of work.

One last thing, I want to thank @KallieMarie @Sam_Martyn and @Nick_M for following this very long and quite complex conversation. It’s really tough speaking about those things and I’m sorry if make extremely long posts, it’s just that I can’t see a way to be precise about all this without writing at length because lack of precision is exactly why so many endeavour of this kind usually fail and I would love Resonate to succeed.

Now maybe this thread contains a little more than the title suggests, as we’ve moved way past the reflexion over Jazz and Classical. Maybe we should move all the recent posts to a newer topic called something like “Adapting S2O to be fairer to long-form music and single listens” ? Tell me what you think @Nick_M I’ll leave it to the mods to figure things out, but this might help bring more people on board with this discussion who do not necessarily feel concerned with the specifics of Jazz or Classical and whose input we still need a lot for a newer, fairer approach of S2O.


Just chiming in mainly to say wow, this conversation contains so much amazing thoughts and propositions.

You guys seem on a good track for dealing fairly with longer form music, and even though it was kind of a sidetrack to that, I really like the idea of being able to spend earned credits on a different track from an artist than the one the credits were accumulated from.

Everything about Resonate not having/being realistically able to concentrate on being competitive on a price standpoint with Spotify and such makes a lot of sense to me. It may make it a harder sell for people, but spending money in an “ethical” way is rarely an easy thing to do, usually stems from a realization that you can “do better” with how you spend your money and the conscious choice/move to do so.

Anyway, glad to have read it all. Cheers!


Been a bit busy the past few days, so apologies for the late reply, but thank you for your contributions to this incredible conversation as well! A lot of really important points are being addressed here, and we are digging into some really deep, but crucial conversations, that will help form the future of Resonate and an even better future for the music industry!

Whatever Resonate ultimately settles on, being super transparent and continuously reminding listeners how much they are spending is crucial.

I definitely agree with everything you mention about watching the slippery slope with trying to compete with the money pit that Spotify is, and I also think your solutions are solid as well. We are definitely doing something completely different here, and hopefully we will be able to change a lot of people’s perspectives on the true value of music.

I’ll be honest that although I came in to Resonate with an open-mind, I was initially more interested in helping artists learn to use the current streaming system more to their advantage, as opposed to turning the streaming industry 180° around, as you allude to. The more I’ve been involved within this community however, the more I find myself gradually reducing my listening time on Spotify, and continuously reflecting on how much my listening behavior would cost on Resonate if we implemented some of the ideas we’ve been coming up with. Through these tests, I’ve found that I can’t afford the current listening behavior that I normally would, as it would be many times more than what I currently pay now.

For example, if we run with the 1€/36 minutes streamed of an artist setup, if I listen to an hour of an artist, every day of the month, that’s about 2€ per day, times 30 days a month which would be 60€ a month. Maybe that’s a reasonable cost for people to spend, but for those who can’t afford that, they would either have to spend beyond their means, stop listening to music after only a few listening hours per month, or they would most likely continue to use other platforms that exploit artists, even if they don’t like doing that.

Maybe all of the above is completely okay too, but I’ve always had the vision that Resonate could help more people connect with music and artists on a deeper, and more personal level, if it was a viable option for a decent amount of listeners around the world. Perhaps this is where the user-centric subscription model comes in that you mention, but I believe that would be a challenge for our developers to have the platform running two different systems…still manageable, but just something we would have to spend a bit of time working out more.

Those are just some of the things I think we should keep in mind for the listeners as we debate the best payment model. We don’t just want to transfer the burden from artists to listeners, and have a similar issue and/or discourage people from interacting with all of the beautiful work that Resonate has on the platform. I think we can definitely stay strong to our values, while also finding a reasonable middle-ground to satisfy all stakeholders.

To touch on the music credit for merch situation, maybe just keeping music credits for ownership of music only, will be the best. We could also use the platform to encourage additional purchases of artists’ offers (merch, tickets, etc.), and I will be really excited for this, as I believe this could be a great way for artists to connect with their fans better and have a larger source of income.

I feel really good about the conversation we’ve had so far, and I also want to thank everyone who has replied, reacted, and just followed this conversation overall. Being able to get everyone’s input and perspective on this is what being a cooperative is all about, so I am interested to see what others have to say about this topic of a streaming payment system that can also accommodate longer-form works fairly.

Anyone else, feel free to leave your thoughts below, even if it is in support of one idea or another, as this will be a great thread for us to come back to when we finally have the time/capacity to implement some of these awesome new ideas into Resonate’s system.

Thank you!


I concur and I can not stress this enough : show people how much support they actually bring, and make it a proeminent part of the interface.

People want to support, as much as they’re tied to the realities of their economical / social situation, they want to support. The reason Spotify is so successful is because they hide the actual support / interraction people have with their artists, and only display the worthless stats “you’ve listened to THIS wealthy major backed person for 40 hours this year ! Yay ! Oh and you’ve listened to THIS more indie artists (who also have a distribution deal with majors) a little less but still 20 hours ! Wow ! Incredible ! You’re a true fan !” What’s never displayed is how much money this effectively made and who got what.

And you know that works well for Spotify whenever you talk to someone who was proud of paying his/her subscription and explain to that person exactly how little the artists they’re convinced to “support” get out of it. Everytime they’re dismayed, struggle to believe it, go look for articles about it, see it’s true, are confounded etc. This scenario has happened to me so many times now I just can’t count. But they remain on Spotify because there’s nothing else around.

If, with a sub based model, we had an interface that could constantly display how much people gave to artists, we would invest them much more in the relationship they have, like the actual relationship they have : they already know how much they listen to an artists, this part of the relationship is experienced and felt, but they can’t know how that translates into an effective reality for the artists they listen to.

This is why I was advising for a “gauge mechanisms” and “wishlists” and “queues” where people can always check “oh this month xxxx got basically all my money damn”. It would always still be much more than Spotify but I think it would still be incredibly marginal, and as such, it would either push them to the S2O model, OR push them to Bandcamp or merch purchases, which is great as well.

There’s a reason Spotify is hiding numbers, and I think if we were to make a crystal clear interface where we don’t hide the money / support side (and if we think it’s a bit “dirty” to push $ inside the interface, you could just input the % of the monthly sub that’ll go to artists and let them make the calculation) we would make it untenable for them to keep hiding (granted we’re successful enough to make a splash in the media).

And as I said we could very well imagine a sub based model that has various tiers, meaning “the more you pay each month the more you get offline access to music each month”, kinda like what several sub services do with plugins, where you pay a monthly sub, but at the end of the year you get 200€ coupon that grants you ownership. It’s not necessarily a good idea, but it’s still an idea.

I think the most important thing is to always remember streaming as business model will never be sound, it will always be, at heart, bad. No business model that sells the workforce of millions of people for 10€ or even 20€ a month can be good. Just imagine if, to use über, you’d only need to pay 10€ a month, and then you could use any über you want for however long you want. It would never hold up, no one would back that up. Yet somehow for musicians, the ultimate gig workers if there ever was, it seems like a given now.

So what we need to do is make people who use said service aware that it’ll never be good enough, that it’s just a starting point but can’t be the end of it.

So yeah, this discussion actually solidifies my view of the need for a two way system : a “you’re poor and can’t afford much because this world sucks so take the sub but know what you’re doing” system, and a “music fan and can afford / have a desire to support artists and own things” system. It would at least make Resonate appear like it’s trying to speak to all, while being the better alternative in any possible case.


Chiming in on the conversation, which is interesting:

  • Yes, I think 1€ for 36 minutes of listening to a given track and then you “own” the track is a relatively minor change to our model that would feel like an improvement without breaking anything. I also think that this will “unbreak” a few problematic categories, like songs that are very short or very long, or even podcasts.
  • And no, I don’t want credits for a T-shirt or a different song, I want the current relative simplicity of automatically buying a song by listening to it enough times / for a long enough time. If I want to own/support a different song I already have the option of direct buy.

This is an interesting conversation. Sorry I’m coming in late.

It ties into an age old music industry discussion electronic vs classical, garage band vs orchestra, etc etc etc.

Different costs of means of production are as much an issue as length of recordings. Every piece of vinyl made has completely different costs behind it depending on who, what, where, when but the vinyl still retails at similar costs and the concerts are similarly priced dependent only on sales territory.

I do love the idea of rewarding longform listening behaviours - although, I know a lot of people who run playlists with their own albums on streaming services to wrack up playcounts… so, it’s not always as honest behaviour as someone skipping from track to track of things they love!

Is it for Resonate to dictate this pricing? Surely it’s down to the artists.
If they feel that the length of the recording dictates the price, they should be able to have control over that. Do a lot of artists really think like that though?

If an artist has made an exceptionally long recording/performance/track and is unhappy to be paid only once for the stream, one solution could be to break it into concurrent parts. Eg. a tiny break every 10 minutes perhaps.

I don’t think that would affect my listener enjoyment of E2-E4 but it would considerably alter the price of listening too and eventually owning one of my favourite pieces of music. (+ I already own 2 vinyl copies of, a digital copy bought years ago from apple and the various DSP incremental payments I’ve made via various streaming services watching live performance videos etc).

Would such additional payments hugely affect the bottom line for artists, or just listeners.

Artists being able to set their own buy now pricing could help in some way. But I think any artist who thinks a single stream fee for a piece is too low, should take the means of distribution into their own hands and chop the music into parts.

Maybe that’s too simplistic for some people, but coming from an electronic music background, it seems obvious to me. I generally favour artist control and agency over centralised decisions from platforms.

Podcasts - I would love to see resonate move into podcasts. That’s completely different listening and payment structures to be discussed though.



It’s really the issue we’re all trying to adress and the reason why this discussion is fundamental : Resonate ultimately do absolutely dictate pricing. I won’t go into the details of how and why because I think I’ve said it earlier here but I agree with you, it’s the biggest issue with the service as it stands.

The problem though and the reason why this discussion goes on for so long without a “winning strategy” is it’s always going to be a compromise. For example I’m all for the artist being able to split their songs into bits if they’re too long (or up the pricing if they thing they’re worth way more) but of that idea two things emerge right away for me : You’ve already mentionned the first one → Will artists do it? Some will some won’t, and not always because it’s their choice but sometimes because they feel they’re not worth it, or they don’t deserve it etc. Here that’s where “dictating a price” can have a good impact, in that it says “this has value” even when the artist doesn’t think it does. The other problem which actually seems even more of a problem to me is it muddies the water for the listener who then starts to have absolutely no idea anymore of how and why it’s credits are being used all over the place, unless he gets pretty obsessionnal with his listening habit (as exemplified in the “listening tension” topic).

And so again, we’re back with this thing of Resonate still being quite fragile in terms of business model because it doesn’t have a natural tendency to allow for quick and easy to understand adaptation of the nature of the transaction between musicians and listeners. It doesn’t do well with the chaotic nature of music consumption / valuation / means of production / social and local realities.

Which is why I think we need to retailor S2O to adress all those things, even if it takes time and a lot of fine tuning, even if it means adding bits and pieces here and there.

My ultimate goal is for S2O to both enforce the idea that music has value even under a streaming model format, BUT allow for this value to be fluctuating from “free and open” to “pay as you wish from there” based on various contexts both fair to listeners and music creators.

Not an easy feat by any means.

The ideas from this thread have been spinning in my mind for the last couple of days, and I came to the 36mins (per artist) = 1cr conclusion, then realize re-reading the conversation that it was actually my mind recalling what had already been said here :slight_smile:

My only problem with this solution is tied to another discussion on these forums about listening/spending tension (the feeling of having to optimize how you spend your credits), esp. related to exploratory/random listening - i.e. “I don’t want to “accidentally” spend expensive-tier listens (I don’t recall the scale exactly - let’s say whe you start spending more than fractions of pennies) on something I’m not sure I like enough yet.”

So… The 36mins idea makes it pretty easy to slip into these expensive-tier spending areas if you’re browsing through a specific artist. Whereas under the current s2o model you need to keep listening to the same track (the same musical segment) in order to scale up the spending tiers, under an artist based model, you could never be listening to the same thing for 36 minutes and end up spending a full credit.

I’d put this idea out here to circumvent this - how about scaling up as, for the same artist, you listen 9 times the same music up to an amount of 4 minutes?

It brings back from the current s2o model the notion of having to retread the same musical moment in order to gradually “buy it”.

It stays fair to long form music (the system essentially splits it into 4mins chunks - a 16min long track, listened to 9 times will have cost 4 credits).

It also works for short-form music (a 1min track will have to be listened to 36 times for a full 1cr to be spent).

Sorry if the explanation is unclear, I hope this makes sense - early morning here and only one coffee down :slight_smile: Feel free to challenge the idea as much as you want!

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Hi Melts-Yes I agree here, artists should have the option to set things like this, or even offer some free streams. Imagine if an artist wanted to drive traffic, and say announce on social media- free streams for the next two hours! The album has just dropped! Be the first to hear it!" Theres lots of exciting things an artist/band can choose to do, and they need this agency.

I too think curated podcasts could be interesting. I would like to see Resonate have several taste makers who have something similar to a radio show, where they highlight some of the week’s best new music on their shows.


I’m late to the party but I’ve been digesting this thread heavily. I’m especially keen on a lot of @LLK 's reasoning around how value is… erm… valued.

This might be better as a separate thread but I’ve been thinking a lot about what a fair payments system might look like from the perspective of what a sustainable income might look like. I can’t see that this has been discussed elsewhere and, to my mind, it is strongly tied up in the value and remuneration we might try and build into the systems around streaming audio works (including of varying lengths and contexts).

How much should an artist (more specifically in this context, musician) reasonably be expected to earn? How much of that through streaming (and by that I mean a fair streaming model as envisioned by Resonate)? What kind of audience would be necessary to reach those levels of sustainable income and are those numbers reasonable and achievable?

I did some back of an envelope calculations. They are necessarily full of assumptions and holes and guesses but serve as a conceptual starting point.

Firstly, the question of how much one should hope to earn per year. This would of course depend on where you live, both in terms of the cost of living in various cities and in terms of country to country inequalities (exacerbated by capitalism etc.). Supposedly an average of $35,300 USD (How much do musicians actually earn? | OUTPUT) but that seems steep.

That same article suggests side-gigs are common and account for ~30% of total income. I was taken by the band Charly Bliss’s comment (here - How Indie Artists Actually Make Money in 2019) that they aim to earn $1,000 USD per month through music (which basically covers rent in New York and so other income must account for other living costs like food etc.).

Anyway, $12,000 USD is ~€10,000 EUR and €10,500 is 70% of €15,000. I’m not actually saying that €15,000 is a living wage in many US/UK/EU cities but it’s a start. It’s also similar to what living stipends for funded academic work offer here in the UK so someone, somewhere believes it’s enough to live on basically.

So, I’m earning €15,000 per year, €4,500 (30%) comes from side gig(s), and the remaining €10,500 is (hopefully) from music. This is more than most I know could ever dream of earning through music but I’m working from the assumption that a fairer system makes living of music more achievable (at least under capitalism, I’ll save smashing capital for a later date) rather than more accessible to those with a day job who can afford a music hobby (all very loaded terms and assumptions intended as a starting point, not foregone conclusions).

Supposedly, ~30% of music income comes from touring. I’ll conveniently ignore Covid-19 impacts here, at least for this loose calculation. I’ll also ignore that many in the vulture article above state they generally lose money on touring and that resonates with my own experiences. According to the Output link above, teaching, salaried playing, and session work account for over 50% of income. That does not chime with my experience (through others, I’ve never personally engaged in those 3 activities) but it’s a kind of viable income stream for musicians. For my calculation then, I’ve marked teaching & misc also at 30% total.

Of €10,500 music income, €3,150 would hopefully be from touring, and €3,150 from teaching/misc. That leaves €4,200 to earn.

What about music sales then? Presumably the touring income represents merch/music sales as much as performance fees (especially when you consider transport and other costs). Also, how to estimate sales? There’s the 1,000 true fans idea which I don’t put much stock in tbh. I know plenty who’d be hard pushed to sell 100 records in a year. 100 time €9 for a download (and many scenes don’t support that pricing, expecting it to be less) is €900. Let’s be ambitious, 150 times €9 is €1,350.

Best case scenario above, leaves a financial hole of ~€3,000. That’s €250 per month still needed.

I’m not saying Resonate should fill that hole but what could an artist expect from Resonate streaming?

To work that out I took a standard Album definition of 7 tracks >30mins. That would earn €8.73 after 9 plays of the full album under s2o.

To earn €50 per month I compared 9 streams (of the whole album), 6 streams, and 5 streams. That works out at 5 x 9 stream listeners, 50 x 6 stream listeners, and 100 x 5 stream listeners.

Trying to bring this back to the discussion about track length, I also mapped these to listening time/value based up 30 mins/7 tracks = 4.2 mins average track length. €50 per month income works out at 21 minutes of listening for 5x9 listens, 3.5 hrs for 50x6 listens, and 7 hrs for 100x5 listens. This is just another example of how s2o builds in different valuation of time. Others have described how aspects of these mechanisms impactsartists/listeners above.

Anyway, €50 per month seems like lots from the perspective of someone earning almost nothing from their music but it also seems like not very much within the context of a modestly sustainable music income.

For €100 per month the listening figures double: 10x9 listens, 100x6 listens, 200x5 listens.

Doubling again for €200 per month: 20x9 listens, 200x6 listens, 400x5 listens.

I’m not sure where I’d sit on whether I’d really expect someone to earn €50 per month, or €100, or €200 etc. Where you’re lucky to get even €10 a year from Spotify (does anyone we know even get that haha?) €10 per month would seem amazing. Where I’m lucky to sell a single thing on Bandcamp, I feel silly talking about earning €1,000s through music alone. Still, do any of the payment/valuation mechanisms being discussed really represent a sustainable model for artists (though of course fans need to be considered too, this is all very artist one-sided). Fairer isn’t necessarily the same as fair.

Note also, I haven’t really accounted for any costs of being a working musician e.g. software updates, instrument repairs, recording and mastering costs, insurance, etc.

Right, that’s all very longwinded and full of assumptions, averaging, and guesswork but, I hope at least, it’s the beginnings of mapping what a basic musician’s income might hope to look like within the realms of sustainability rather than hoping to win the lottery of stardom etc.

My aim in exploring this is, it allows me to ask the following (and I think the potential answers may help inform how issues like track length might be addressed):

  • What does a sustainable music income look like (to you individually but to Resonate as a collective voice)?
  • If Resonate doesn’t agree with sustainable incomes for artists (there are certainly other valid ways of addressing fairness for musicians) what does it stand for here? And why?
  • How much would Resonate streaming earnings reasonably hope to contribute towards any such sustainable income?
  • What kind of audience must an artist reach, within Resonate, to achieve such a level of streaming income? Is that achievable?

First off, I just want to say thank you @thehouseorgan for engaging in the community, and bringing your incredible thoughts to this space! :pray:

You bring up a lot of great questions that the Resonate community should come to an agreement on to make sure that we are all following the same vision and have similar goals.

If Resonate’s goal is to just, “help artists receive more payment from music streams than other streaming services,” then I believe early data suggests that the stream2own model should be able to do this for most artists, as long as the listeners are there of course.

If Resonate’s goal is to help musicians earn a living wage from their work, then I think Resonate would have to move beyond the scope of just music streaming to do this, considering that the current streaming environment values music so poorly, and yet Resonate still has to stay somewhat competitive for consumers compared to some of the other alternatives.

If Resonate is looking to go beyond music streaming so that they could help artists earn a living, I think Resonate has the ability to do this in a few ways.

  1. If I understand the scope & vision of the project correctly (@Nick_M please correct me if I veer off course anywhere), the Community Credentials work that is currently being done could be some life-changing work for artists. Although it may not result in additional income for artists, its potential ability to leverage excess resources and exchange value between partnered co-ops could give artists the opportunity for (some of) their basic needs to be met by other co-ops that could in exchange have access to that artist’s music/skills. For example what if an artist could stay at a hotel somewhere, as long as they let the hotel play their music in the lobby, and the artist performed 1 show a week there (hypothetically). Basically, just retooling the way we think of value in terms of output rather than just money.

  2. Even before getting involved with Resonate, I thought a music streaming platform’s ability to help artists market and sell their work could be a huge benefit to artists, and the platform. Instead of just allowing artists to earn money from streams, what if Resonate leveraged its platform to help artists market their work and their additional products/services (merch, concert tickets, skills for freelance/commercial work, etc.) to others who are looking for them. To me, my basic view of marketing is all about connecting people who want things, to the people that have them available (I have a very optimistic and simple view of what marketing is lol, I know :wink:). Basically, I’m just saying that if Resonate could develop a platform & a user interface that helps artists put their work in front of more (potential) fans, encourages people to support artists, promotes underrepresented artists, and helps artists develop meaningful relationships with listeners/fans, I think artist income could definitely increase compared to what it is now.

Since a sustainable music income can be a different number for many people, depending on a number of factors, I personally don’t think it should be Resonate’s responsibility for all of its artists to earn a sustainable income from the platform.

However, I think a few key metrics for Resonate (@boopboop, maybe some additional/future KPIs?) could be things like:

  • Resonate artists should earn “X” times more total income compared to other streaming services.
  • Resonate has helped “X” number/percent of artists earn a living wage from their craft. (Almost like the antithesis of how Spotify just continually pumps a few already grossly rich artists to even higher streaming counts; Resonate can leverage its platform to “spread the wealth” through its featured playlists, community centered curation, and human moderation, among other things)

This is definitely going to take time to develop things, but I agree that the vision and goals have to be properly aligned, while also being sustainable for all stakeholders, especially the big 3 - artists, listeners, and the co-op itself.

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Thanks, I wanted to engage more in the past but I’m meant to be finishing a PhD right now so this is perhaps an elaborate form of procrastination :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:.

I’m going to respond to the KPI suggestions first. Something like those suggested sounds good to me as I do think artists would benefit from some further indications as to how Resonate might work for them.

I agree that it shouldn’t be Resonate’s responsibility for all of its artists to earn a sustainable income from the platform. My back of the envelope math was more intended to explore what a sustainable income might look like and where Resonate streaming income might fit. I saw Resonate providing a portion of that sustainable income.

Where I think that gets interesting is imagining what sized portion streaming could realistically be expected to provide and what kinds of stream counts, listener numbers, audience reach, on a platform such as Resonate, would be necessary to hit that portion. Then, finally, are those audience/stream numbers actually realistic. e.g., do you need 100 fans, 1k, 10k, 100k etc. to engage with your music, on Resonate, regularly, to say hit 10% of your income? Resonate can’t determine all the pieces of the bigger picture but perhaps, the way one might design characters/stories for UX development, we could imagine several artist scenarios and map what value (not just income) streaming might offer to them. In coming up with such scenarios we’d also have to imagine the surrounding infrastructure/system too and that’s an interesting act of staking a position within a larger ecology.

Regarding Resonate moving beyond streaming etc. I’m on the fence here. My interest in Resonate was initially as a promising streaming platform. That doesn’t mean it should stay put of course, but personally I’d to see that come to fruition before developing it into an ecosystem.

I get kinda excited at the prospect of numerous federated, cooperative services plugging into one another… I listen to something on Resonate and love it enough to want to buy it outright and there’s a widget or something where I buy the vinyl version on a federated bandcamp and Resonate knows this and handles streaming and oh, the LP was a bundle with a t-shirt being sent from a merch partner and a gig ticket handled by someone else etc.

But, at the same time, I’m a bit dubious about it just getting even more complex and my artistry being even more mediated by technology. Let’s just make listening to music online fair(er) perhaps?

I get your sentiment around marketing but I think it’s important to be careful here. I think Resonate could be great at helping artists promote their work but only in so much as it benefits both artists and platforms by bringing in and connecting audiences. There’s a long history of artists being expected to provide their labour for free under the promise of ‘exposure’. I know you’re not suggesting this but marketing instead of the ability to pay rent treads a dangerous path so I feel it’s worth flagging that danger.

But, anyway, it’s great to have people engage so thoughtfully with my comments and I look forward to seeing how this all pans out. :rainbow:

EDIT: Also, to reiterate, I think exploring some of the issues above also connects with the original topic. Under the scenarios I suggested, what does it look like for the ‘punk’ artist with lots of short songs vs the ‘drone’ artists with 20+ min tracks? And can we engineer some kind of parity between them in terms of streaming income?


Thought I’d share this as a relevant to my previous thoughts with some actual data/numbers.

My biggest issue with that piece is simply that, for most artists, streaming royalties would surely only ever be a portion of sustainable income rather than the only income stream so the whole thing ends up of quite limited usefulness.