Listener tension + lack of control over spending

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:

This point and the point about subscription model is so spot on. Giving users a wallet to spend, and also letting them earn credits, share and gift credits etc. This could lead to a lot of creative promotional uses of gifting credits between listeners and artists! Subscription models do tend to work well across many platforms. I think we are on the right track!


In the topic if ‘lack of control over spending’ it would be nice to have a “do not play” list / filter.
for example it could be framed like:

  • don’t play tracks from artist x / label z
  • it could be like an anti-favorite list

This would save credits if you’re in random discovery mode and you don’t find the skip button in the 45 seconds you need to save you listening to a track you have already discovered and don’t like


Yeah some services have a “Never Play Again” button, which can be unticked later. I think it was player that used to have it if I am recalling correctly.


I don’t understand the desire to have a track paid for within just 9 plays. Why the rush? Pay-to-own is a cool concept but 9 plays seems so fast. It makes it feel more like a “try before you buy” setup than a replacement for streaming. You can’t just leave it on like a normal streaming service; it would get quite expensive fast.

I feel like just having something like, “1 cent per play until you own it” is more palatable. It’s much more clear to understand for everyone and doesn’t make you feel like you have to carefully curate everything you’re hearing. As an artist, I would not mind at all if someone listened to one of my tracks 50 times and “only” got paid 50 cents. I would make more money from many people just casually listening than few people making me a favorite.


I think 1 cent per play is a fine idea - perhaps though there’d be a way to incorporate that concept with the escalating model already built into Resonate? I think it’s rare or at least takes quite a while for most songs to reach 100 listens per a single user even if that user really likes the song, and from a user perspective I think it’s helpful to have a collection that you distinctly own as a direction from which to explore more music.

Would it be possible to take a page out of the book out how bandcamp tracks listening stats and incorporate checkpoints based on percentage of song length?

The way they classify listening stats:

  • less than 10% of song == “skip”

  • 10% to 90% == “partial”

  • more than 90% == “complete”

I’ll preface this by saying I’m not an expert in this subject but I’ve noticed the following in trying to study the way they track stats:

At each of these checkpoints during a play, the site makes a GET request with a URL that includes “&stream_duration=&phase=______”

Where the underscores are would be one of the following words: “thirty”, “partial”, “complete” or “stream_end” to indicate how far into the song the current play has reached, and the response is a 1x1 gif image. Though I’ve never seen a stat provided to an artist account that corresponds with the thirty second play phase, it may factor into the mechanism that determines how many plays on an individual release before bandcamp sends a user the prompt that encourages them to purchase a music release.

Long story short, perhaps factoring play-tracking that’s proportional to song-length could help with combining the concept of charges that escalate towards song-ownership with each play but in a way that is less On/Off anxiety-inducing than only having that 45 second mark?

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I think rather than designing one model that fits all purposes, it’s better to have multiple.

A line could, for example, be drawn between “specific playing” and “unspecific playing”. If I search up a specific track, that I might have heard elsewhere (which naturally happens all the time) I think the current S2O model is great. I can add the track to my playlist, maybe listen once, and if I happen to never listen to it again then I didn’t lose much. On the other hand, if I do, then I know the artist is fairly compensated and I end up owning it which feels good since that means I can’t lose it (like when artists pull their music because of politics).

Now, when it comes to unspecific playing, such as playing some sort of automixed radio station, or being in some discovery mode where my ability to play specific tracks is limited, it would indeed be nice if I instead paid something more similar to a typical royalty deal. E.g. a cent per play per track, or perhaps even just a fixed monthly fee. I don’t think this is unfair to the artist nor to the user.

It would encourage discovery, provide a way for users to play background music, but also make it possible to save specific tracks easily and play them later using the S2O scheme.

A final thing I’d also like to mention is that some of the listener behaviors detailed in this thread, and also detailed on other parts of this community forum, is naturally not what I would consider “mainstream” behaviors. The vast majority of Spotify subscribers discover music either through their “radio” stations, or elsewhere (and then look up/add those songs on Spotify). I don’t think their behavior is more complex than that. Resonate’s current model already covers the latter case, it’s just the unspecific discovery case it’s not as suitable/useful for.