I’m a listener and a musician. I’m writing from my personal listener account, but I also make music with an artist on resonate.
I’m not especially interested in streaming platforms – I’m here because I believe strongly in the co-op model, and I’m hoping that resonate can become a download shop as well as a streaming platform.
I’m coming from a paradigm where music is not disposable. In my world taking 200 person-hours to make a music track would be a reasonable minimum, and listening to a good album hundreds of times over decades would be quite normal.
From my POV streaming is something that corporates invented to maintain their control over the music ecosystem, continue to extract money from back catalogue, and gather data on listeners. As a result I find the whole idea of streaming for my regular music listening a little gross. (This isn’t intended to diss anyone who finds genuine value in streaming for regular listening, just explaining where I’m coming from)
There’s one exception – browsing for new music. Streaming platforms are great for finding something new and perusing a lot of music quickly, often only playing part of a track and moving on.
If I find something I like on a streaming platform, I want to buy it and download it within a dozen or so clicks. That could be by way of a link to direct sales from the artist’s website (remember when people did that?) – or it could be buying from the streaming platform. However if I find something I like and I can’t buy and download it in full lossless quality, it goes on the too-much-trouble list and I move on.
If I buy an album or a track, I expect to be able to download it in full lossless quality (preferably flac) to be stored locally, moved between devices , burned to CD, or whatever I need to listen to it. Anything else is not ownership of the track.
Of course there should also be an option to download in a smaller lossy format for listeners with limited devices or suffering from corporate capture who can’t play flac.
For an initial offering I think flac plus one lossy format would be an absolute minimum. (Look at all the choice of download formats bandcamp offers for comparison.)
I think, in the spirit of freedom, that artists should not be absolutely required to offer downloads, but I also think that allowing downloads should be the default, and artists should be strongly discouraged from disallowing them in most cases – why alienate your most serious listeners?
As a musician, I care about piracy, I guess - but realistically – if someone wants to pirate the track they will. They can simply record the stream ffs. The best anti-piracy measure is to make it convenient and rewarding for listeners to pay.
I’d also rather someone listened to my music and didn’t pay, than didn’t listen to it. If they like it they might come back and pay for it or something else later. I believe that most piracy is not a choice between a a person listening but paying or not paying. It is much more often a choice between them listening or not listening.
A pay-what-you-feel option (with a minimum) as on bandcamp is also a no-brainer for me. This idea could be extended, for example there could even be a suggested “normal” price above the minimum as a guide to what a waged person in a western/wealthy country should pay.
A bit more about quality: As an artist I would like people to always hear my music in the quality I released it at – so lossless should be available wherever the devices used make it practical and worthwhile. Lossless music streaming is quite practical on a real computer with a decent net connection. It is way less bandwidth than streaming a 1080p movie.
As a listener I’d also like lossless streaming when browsing for new music, however since I would intend to download the lossless file when I find something I like, it is maybe less important. If I can’t download the file, then my interest in the whole platform wanes, but also the need for lossless streaming is greater.
The obvious solution is to have a user-switched resolution button for streaming – that perhaps defaults to the lossy format, but allows listeners to get the full version. This is an audio equivalent to the choice of resolution that youtube allows.