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.