Listener tension + lack of control over spending

Since there’s already been a long and insightful discussion on this topic, I’ll chime in to mention a few remarks I’ve had after my first long form attempt at using the new version of the Resonate Player.

I should mention that at first I was pretty excited about it : the new layout looks much better, dark mode is a great thing to have, it doesn’t feel cramped etc. I thought there was a lot to like compared to the previous versions which I didn’t find very usable.
Now, this being said, after a few hours of roaming through the catalogue and discovering things, I immediately noted a form of tension/anxiety building up as I was listening to music at random (which is always my favorite way to go). And this bit is the reason why :

I slowly realized as I went on that 45 seconds is much too short of a time scale for me to decide myself whether or not I want to keep listening to something. It’s still an “acquaintance period” where I’m gathering infos and wondering what will happen next. It struck me that all I was doing was constantly checking my credit balance and the song’s timing to make sure I wasn’t “passing the mark”. And then I remembered having read a fairly similar remark a few months back on this forum by @onapoli which you can read here :

I find it very interesting in how it describes the kind of pressure the current model can put on the listener to obsessively control his listening pattern to “maximize/regain control of where the money goes” and I think we should try to alleviate some of that pressure.

I gave it some thoughts. The thing is, however we put it, we have to decide a time mark before which the relation between the listener and the artist isn’t tampered by a transaction fee. I get that it’s more complicated on Resonate because it’s a streaming platform, and precisely, we pay for the act of listening (and only through that act, at some point is it decided that we’ve paid enough and we can own the thing we’ve listened to). I get it. That means it’s not as simple as Bandcamp that makes that act free, and the payment basically a simple “support” button.

But I think we still need to say that this “acquaintance period” where you’re not quite sure whether you want to pay for a song or not is not something you need to pay for, and 45 second isn’t long enough to decide if you want to pursue it in my view.

I should point out, for clarity, that I can take active listening (which means, I decide not to do something else, and invest my focus and attention on what I listen to) to the extreme, I make regular 300/400 songs listening sessions (mostly nowadays on either Bandcamp or Soundcloud), where I sort out artists, albums, compilations, reissues and build myself organizational trees of what I listen to, where it’s from, what’s the community of artists surrounding it etc. As of now, it’s that way of listening that feels rather impossible and tense for me to achieve when I try to do the same on Resonate. And it pains me a little because I’d really want it to be the platform for exactly just that, even if it has to cost me 30€ a month to do so. In fact it’s not even so much about it being too expensive right now. It’s got more to do with that 45 second line being so early in a track that it makes me feel like I’m losing control over the way I value the artist’s work and the time allotted for me to evaluate how I relate to it.

I’ve seen discussed the fact that we would need to switch to a minute based system rather than a song based system, and so far I think I’m quite ok with all the arguments made for that move above. Now, within that system, to make it work with what I just said, I think we need to put the “free of charge time period” further in the song (I’d personally say at the 2 minutes mark), and to avoid this moving of the goalpost being detrimental to short form songs, I also think we should up the “first stage reached” price/credit ratio.
In other words, right now the first listen is “.002” credits after 45 seconds. And my point is maybe we should move the first listen at 2 minutes and make it “.003” credits so that it marks that there’s more of a commitment already and before that it’s just discovery and it shouldn’t be priced. In terms of minutes based system it would be the same, you’d start paying at the start of the 2nd minute but you’d pay a little more.

If it’s a minute based system, apart from the first listen, it shouldn’t be too damaging to the “sub 2 minute” culture musicians, since you’d either keep listening to their songs more and the next listens would be counted fully just as if you kept listening to a longer track. Still if people want to help try to figure out a system for shorter song to make sure no one gets left out, I’d love to hear ideas. And as it stands anyway, 45seconds for free is already detrimental to a wide array of music (typically some 20th academic classical music, some more experimental metal sub-genres and many others) that lives under that mark.

This is really the most frustrating thing I’ve felt with the platform so far. I really don’t mind paying for listens, and even to some extent paying a little more, if in the end I’m also a little more in control of what I pay for and to whom, and I can just relax and listen “safely” for a decent amount of time before the price ratio starts to kick in.

I should also point out quickly that, beyond my own experience of this which wasn’t super enjoyable, I also believe that at some point, should Resonate become a bigger platform, things like this will start to influence how artists write music. If you know the 45 first seconds are critical and people could potentially not listen pas that because then they’re paying, a lot (or just enough of them that it’s an issue) might subconsciously think they need to “convince people in 45 seconds” and avoid long intros and whatnots, much in the same way the current Spotify algos of skip rate being so fundamental to being playlisted and long songs being under-performing have influenced the way artists write songs starting quickly and to the point and rarely pushing above the 3/4 minute mark.

I hope these remarks can help with the long discussion that already happened, they’re not meant to detract from what has been achieved by the team on the contrary, my only goal here is to make sure that Resonate is a platform that’s inviting to all, and that it’s especially suited for very active listeners while retaining all of its values.


Well said. I think that it is important to focus on functionality, and ease of use for creators and users, before adding fancy bells and whistles. Users need control of their catalogues, management, payouts, and listener facing profiles. Users need a lot of different features that allow them access. The one thing I hear people say over and over about Spotify is how convenient it is. We have to make Resonate CONVENIENT to use. People like an easy buffet, don’t they?

But this is not to say we shouldn’t be brain storming other things for later. We cant build the house if we dont know how to lay bricks. Cart before horse as they say. I’ve seen a lot of tech start ups fail because they have too many great ideas popping forth without the important features, support, marketing, and infrastructure laid out first.


Thank you for sharing your experiences here, and although I haven’t gone to the extent that you have in testing the “real-life” applications of the player, I too feel a lot of the same issues and anxiety that you bring up when it comes to efficiently spending your money on artists and things you enjoy, as opposed to spending it on something you aren’t sure if you like yet.

I honestly can’t think of my own answer here, but you bring up a lot of great points and alternatives that are worth considereding.

When it comes to discovery verse spending money on artists you actually want to support, maybe a listener’s mindset just has to be that you will be spending some money, like a “sample fee” every time you click play, and therefore, by preparing yourself for this standard (and hopefully relatively cheap) cost of discovery, you won’t feel as anxious about not going past the 45 second mark because you are already prepared to spend .002 € no matter what?

Another thing to consider is, what if the player had a preview button of some sort that could be set to a core part of the track (ideally decided by the artist) as a way to create another step within the discovery process to help alleviate some anxiety in this respect.

For example, I stumble across a brand new song, and instead of clicking play, I click preview to capture my initial reaction to the track. Then, if I am still undecided on if it is worth a play to me, I can either move on, or know that I can pay 0.002 € to listen all the way through the track to known for sure if I like it or not.

If I end up not enjoying the full track after first play payment, then hopefully 0.002 € isn’t that big of a burden to spend for finding out, and I just move onto the next song.

I think the current model does a good job of keeping discovery affordable, but I also know that anxious feeling as well, so whether it’s just a personal mindset adjustment, or there is something like a preview button that we could use to decrease this anxiety, I would be interested to hear from others on their thoughts around this as well.

Thank you for sharing!


Absolutely! That convenience factor is something that I think can be easily taken for granted while on platforms like Spotify, but will be heavily noticed when that convenience isn’t there.

Still a bit more ways to go I feel like for overall convenience and all of the bells and whistles and things, but as you said, let’s get the basics of the platform down first, and then work from there.

For me the spending tension kicks in around the 6th time I heard a track. I kind of like it but have not made a decision yet on whether to buy it… also, I have not spent a (to me) significant fraction of the cost yet (7/8 parts of the price correspond to the last 3 reproductions, right?).

What if I hear it for the 7th time without realizing it (it’s on a list, or in my favorites, or I stumble upon it in some kind of “discover” mode) and start paying good money for it by accident? What if the 6th time I hear it while thinking about something else and I didn’t pay enough attention to know how much I liked it, so to make my final decision I need to pay for the 7th? If for whatever reason I end up hearing a song 8 times, I might as well pay for the last one, even if it’s half the cots of the song, because at this point the decision is between having paid 50% to have heard it 8 times or pay the other 50% to be able to hear it as many times as I want to. That’s not the situation I want to be in. I want to pay full for the ones I want to buy and very little (1/8th or less) for the rest.

Perhaps some kind of optional confirmation setup could help there, a box one can check or a number one can enter in the configuration page for: “the Xth time I hear a song, I want to be required to click on it, else it will be skipped”. Of course, that seems very intrusive and inconvenient from the point of view of listening to music, but at the same time it seems very convenient from the point of view of not spending money without realizing it. Or a way to block a track to never hear it again, which may be more convenient but feels more negative.


Interesting suggestion.

Yes, I find the first several plays quite ‘painless’ and a really welcome way to explore while supporting.

Isn’t the reason for the 45 second free listen due to flying under the PROs?
Will having the ICE license affect whether or not we can extend this? @richjensen

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What are PROs @melis_tailored ? Sorry for the probably noob question but it’s always great to learn about the legal issues behind this. If there is indeed an issue, do we know how Bandcamp manages to allow for the free streaming part of their service? It might be worth investigating what kind of jurisdiction/license they fall under.

PROs = performing rights organisations. The organisations who collect the money on behalf of artists and writers, for the performance of their works.

bandcamp class all streams as “promotional listening” and they do not (or have not been) paying artist rights organisations for those streams. this is not legal, but a big grey area, but essentially the listening is at the rights holders discretion. So they got away with it as they are a shop, not a a streaming service. Their end game is sales, and they are bundling the streaming in with the sales on their service.

As a streaming service, resonate couldn’t do that, giving free promotional full listens of tracks (unless that’s what an artists chooses) it would be unethical and against everything we stand for (playing fair). Ultimately it could lead to trouble with the publishers, labels and artists - it could even cost us our independence if we were to be sued for back payment of rights abuses, which is how other streaming services have ended up giving big chunks of their shares to the major labels, who are also the major publishers.

As far as I’m aware, GEMA here in germany only allows for a 30 second promotional play, maybe it’s been extended to 45 sec. When I was dealing with this issue for my website 10 years ago, I think it was 30 sec only.


That’s really a bummer to hear . It’s also a bit unfair to Resonate in my view, since it’s “stream 2 own” I’ve never seen it as solely a streaming service, it is absolutely a shop where you buy things, except under a leasing kind of method (and to me the first full listen would absolutely be promotional “do I want to invest into leasing this song?”) with an initial investment (the credits) you can renew at will.

I definitely think there’s 0 legislation to cover that kind of business model though, but we’re used to it. (also, no as a musician I definitely don’t think it’s unfair that people get to listen to my music for free the first time).

Thanks a lot for all this, it’s critical information. And a good reminder of why I don’t like performing rights organisations despite being on one.

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Yeah, PRO conversation is huge. I don’t like them either - they aren’t working for the majority of independent, self-releasing artists I work with. They could modernise and do so much more. Lets not hold our breath. But there are new organisations and systems in development, such as creative commons (and the one from stanford I never remember the name of…)

If you’re streaming artists tracks, the artist should get paid. If you listen on the radio, dance in a club, hear it on an advert, hear it in a shop - the artist should be getting paid. If an artist wants to give a track for free or allow free listening, that should be an active choice for them. I do see your point about having a first free listen, but also not, it’s a penny, isn’t someones work worth a penny of anyone’s time?

The UK is working on legislation. And I do think the ICE license might cover it - but @richjensen knows more about that.


I’ve covered this in full length elsewhere but : “does any human discourse / conversation, through art or otherwise require payment ?” is I think also a valid question. I invest a lot of time and energy on this forum for example, but I don’t think I’d want people to pay me for it. Still these are things I’ve thought about, read about, worked on and considered carefully for years prior and then I do my best and spend a lot of time trying to express them to the best of my habilities, which is also something I’ve worked on for years. All of this is, ultimately, work. Because I’m sharing the result of that work with you all through talking here, should you necessarily pay me? I don’t think so. Part of this is being a community of human soul, poking it, seeing what we expect out of it, how we want to interract with it, and ultimately invest time / money into it.

I don’t see music as being any different.


Totally with you. Very valid.

But, if someone has uploaded music to a streaming platform and our whole thing is playing fair, in the face of a universal digital system of exploitation, where artists are being universally ripped off, abused, gaslit and having their creative endevours stolen and exploited by big tech, media and the rest. Then I think we should pay be paying them for every play, because playing fair and paying artists is our thing.

You can listen to artists for free in hundreds of other places. And as an artist you can choose to give your music away for free on every platform from soundcloud to spotify (I listen for free on spotify as I don’t have a paid account - sorry Stormzy). So why should resonate offer that as well? Artists have choices which they can excercise, and we don’t have to be all things.

Huge topic, I think we’re very much on the same page theoretically on a lot of this. But from a music ecosystem perspective, what is missing are the platforms where the artists get paid, not the platforms where listeners can enjoy the fruits of creativity for free.


I’m gonna say something awful so I hope you excuse me in advance ! But as it stands, I find the “first listen pricing” model of Spotify fairer than Resonate… The artists get paid .0033 vs .002 on Resonate, and the user doesn’t have to pay for it, the cost is instead reported on / assumed by venture funds backing Spotify with absurd investment expecting a return in the form of a future monopoly. So the “discovery” moment on Resonate is not the “fair” moment, and if someone was to consume music only by consuming playlists of new stuff on Resonate, he would be paying artists less, except they would also have to assume personally the cost of that smaller payment. I don’t find it a good thing, and I think making discovery painless is part of “fairness”, in the sense of we think it’s fair to the listener that they don’t assume the cost of that part of the experience (because they don’t control it) and only assumes the cost of the part of the experience that they choose to act on and can control (listening to something again after enjoying it) and we trust them that way.

Edit: to avoid being confronted on what I just said at face value, I feel the need to precise I really only mean it as a way to reflect on what’s fair and what’s not. I hate Spotify and I don’t think anything about their business is fair and that’s why I never use them free or premium either way, release my music there, or have anything to do with them. Just so we’re clear about that. But the question remains should the first listen be paid for.

My question is more in line with : Should trying clothes at the store be paid for a minor fee? Should looking at them through the window while walking in the street be paid for a minor fee? When does fairly rewarding work start? It’s a real question, I think, not an easy one.

Edit 2: the greatest way to solve this question ethically is actually not me advocating for it or not because really my opinion on this doesnt matter in the slightest, but it would be to ask artists on the platform to vote for what they would prefer.


I could be off the mark, but there seems to be a sentiment floating around these conversations hinting that a pre-purchase microtransaction is inherently offensive or awkward (at least in our commodity-organized culture). Like, when I worked as a barista, it was a unique moment when you decide to give someone a full drink on the house or to let them have a taste of what’s on drip. And when you do, there’s a sweetness to that gift.

But outside that elective gift, the line of the commodity transaction ritual is firmly drawn: you pay the total price (or maybe discounted if you’re another service worker) or you don’t get the drink.

Perhaps culturally we’re trained to see as appalling the situation of being nickeled and dimed. Here we’re trying to design a system that nickels and dimes people for good but the forwardness of it conflicts with what folks are used to, even though the amounts in question are so tiny. I’d truly find it hard to bear if I was behind the coffee counter – someone asked to taste the coffee – and I responded that they needed to hand me like 2 cents. It feels gross. Is it still gross when it isn’t a formal transaction with two humans navigating it?

We’re used to seeing these kinds of microcharges at the end of our purchases (tax, service fee, +25 cents for an extra of that house spicy ketchup), but in terms of having them on the front end, there may be a cultural shift to deal with here.


On the legal topic, @melis_tailored is spot on. I think we settled on 45 seconds as more of a global average and expected that it would ruffle some feathers, but ultimately lead to a dialogue and resolution since we’re presenting an utterly new model here.

Yucky legalz out of the way, I find myself almost overwhelmed as where to start. Thrilled that these forums exist now, as I’ve had conversations with hundreds of people about all the above. Wonderful, personal moments, but lost to history.

Everything you’re all saying @Iamupinthecloud @KallieMarie @Sam_Martyn @agaitaarino @LLK has been echoed, in varying degrees, by many others. Eager to share some background and thinking and usher sincere apologies in other regards…

First, OMG I was totally geeked out on the 9 plays doubling numbers. I apologize for that. DEFINITELY my bad. (My lame justification was, the first play is better than YouTube – by far the biggest music streaming service – second is same, er, better as Spotify, but wait until the next play…!)

Good news on that front is that the board voted to guarantee a penny per play. (You’ll hear more about why later. Might already be in affect now.) And maybe a launching point for further evolutions of the stream2own model itself.

Probably the simplest solution is a monthly subscriber share model, where your monthly fee is divvied up against exactly what you listen to. Ownership could probably be figured out still (aggregate per song spends) and the whole thing could be opt in.

Another idea is (if its not technically PRO illegal) is to have a third setting for artists. Not just “free” and “paid” but “first play free” as well.

And here’s where it gets messy. The customization part. The more there are, the greater the potential cognitive burden of having too many different rates and options and buy ins from hundreds of artists. Totally works at Bandcamp, because that’s a store. But deadly in a medium where anxiety is a buzzkill.

Think that’s where this whole thread started – anxiety + tension – so feels like a good thing to focus on, as I try to wrap up my already long-winded monologue…

I’ve had at times 50 euros of credits in my account and never thought once about the per song rate. Was never worth paying attention to. I still long for a “HIDE” button (rather than block) but I never gave the rates a second thought, because I knew these were just fractions. And now with a penny a play to start? Even simpler. (Think about it… pennies are still in the real world, just fractions of anything approaching value.)

That said, its just my perspective, as one member among many. And I sincerely believe that if anyone else feels anxious that they’re counting pennies (or fractions thereof, as the listener credit counts are staying the same for now) then I think that’s an immediate call for the Subscriber Share model. Set it at what you want (5, 10, 20 a month). Maybe we’ll have to throttle heavy usage at some point, but I kinda doubt it. Would love to hear if others think that would eliminate the anxiety issue?


Fact is, I’d be ok to pay a “general fee” that gets spread across all artists on the platform (out of my 20€ payment, 5€ go to EVERYBODY) and then first listen is free. This way the money doesn’t go to the lucky ones I listened to at random like you flip a coin, it’d go to anyone who contributed to the platform, and first listen is the free drink.

Edit : posted before @peter answered. Lots to digest here, interesting perspectives and things that could fall in line with various ideas evoked elsewhere. I’m suuuper tired though so I’ll leave you all discuss it without me. Feels like I’ve hoarded a lot of that topic’s momentum so I’ll just sit back and listen for a while. Thanks for the wonderfully engaging talk, diverging opinions etc. this is all great to read and think about.


The Resonate Board recently amended and clarified this policy in a way that I believe you will find quite favorable. Working on a precise statement for public announcement shortly.


A hide button would be great.


How about encouraging a listener commitment to a level of regular credit top up that you can afford. If you don’t use all your credits and you run up a personal surplus, we ‘expire’ the credits after a period and ‘sweep’ the unused amounts, redistributing the funds to contribute to an earnings ‘collar’ for artists who typically get plays at the low end of s2o.

That would:

  • incentivise active listening
  • encourage diversity of musical work on the platform by giving a decent ‘per play’ reward for artists at ‘the bottom end’ , without fund those already doing well from s2o at the top end. It’s still ‘user-centric’.
  • give more predictable income to the co-op.
  • reduce extortionate card top up fees on small top ups - regular bank DD is cheaper
  • keep the membership fee low and ‘clean’ for co-op membership… not a subsidy system.


  • would it simply increase listener tension? …we could still have the spend controls mentioned above… and remind listeners before the sweep?
  • is it just too complicated? :slight_smile: