Payout/ credit for user-made playlists

What if any user could be compensated for use of their playlist? Beyond a certain level of Resonate credit, it could turn into actual income.


I’ve always been curious about this idea! Or a way for curators on the platform to receive compensation for curation work (once playlisting and other curation tools exist). Perhaps these curators would receive a tiny cut when someone listens to their playlist, or would recieve scaled payment depending on how long a listener stays on a particular playlist.

I guess the only caveat here is the idea of do we want people making playlists simply because they enjoy the playlist and want to share it, or do we think that monetization will influence what curators do (trying to create playlists that they imagine listeners want, rather than simply expressing their own taste).

Obviously, this isn’t so clean cut. I’m sure we can find creative ways to do this right which reward people for their contributions and also don’t overly gamify curation and expression.


Good points. I think it inevitable that a monied system be gamed, and you are right to question whether we’d be rigging it to people’s benefit.

Curation is similar to making music itself in that people will do it for free because they enjoy it. However, when such work isn’t paid, (at least for the public, such as we see at Spotify), it’s still being used to extract value for those who can afford to make playlists–whether native Spotify playlists that are groomed to keep people on the app, independent playlist curators who offer placement for payola, or brands that curate playlists for stores (like Starbucks etc).

I’d like to think that pay for playlists would decentralize this work by making it worth more people’s time. I’d like to think that people being paid to do what they love will feel enabled to do it however they want rather than feeling the need to game it even deeper than what we’re seeing presently.


Personally I think the attraction of playlist creation is in spreading the word and exposing other people to some music you are passionate about.
If one was paid to create playlists, especially with more money going to popular playlists or for time people spend on playlists, surely you’d get a rash of playlists that were just full of very popular, easy to market music, and other playlisters would be disincentivised from including music that was less popular or less instantly gratifying.


What if there were a diverse collection of periodical podcasts built from curator playlists? Program would consist exclusively of tracks from the archive, plus curator stories, artist interviews and features. Perhaps this tier of programs would unlockable by subscription with revenue splits between curator-producer, platform, and artist. Each track in the pod would set up a paid play for the artists. Objective would be to aid discovery and be the basis for recruiting new artists to the platform.


Since I think the problem we find ourselves confronted to here is the problem of having money-making interfere with (to the point of becoming prior to) actual genuine interest for the music shared, maybe we could try to think backwards about this, which is : instead of thinking about wether or not curators should also be paid (I think they should) or not for their work and if that payment would be detrimental to “their work”, think about what we actually want “their work” as curators to be and what we actually value about it, and then think about the remuneration of specifically that and not just of “the fact of sharing music links”.

So, it seems if I read the previous messages correctly that we all agree that curation as a sort of gatekeeping and/or payola service and/or investment/risk/reward tactic where you consider the monetization first and foremost is not exactly our idea of curation. Opposite to that, our vision of “the value of curation” (the thing we should monetize) is the capacity of people to help create a bridge between music that fails to reach its audience, and possibly create pipelines so that constantly new music reaches new ears to the benefit of the audience and musicians alike. Now I think we’ve got a better sense of what we should monetize.

It seems to me that, to prevent predatory behaviors and push forward the definition of curator I just stated instead, we could set a ceiling to the “curated value” of what’s being shared on the playlists. Basically, we could imagine that if a song goes past a certain number of listens prior to being playlisted the curators doesn’t get a cut of anything because the song already managed by itself to get some exposure and its own momentum, and so the “curation value” of the playlist curator would be minimal (which I think would be the tendency if we made curation monetized, as market capitalism kind of showed us how multiple low risk investments is quite a common mechanism, more than going all in on a super risky project). Typically in terms of interface, if a song is past a certain treshold and you share the link, a small window that says something like “this song is already trending, you won’t make any financial benefit from sharing it, still share?” or if it’s a bit too much, just a small visual indicator under widely listened to songs that states the same idea with a simple word (no number of listens or anything, it could be simply color coded for example).

We could also imagine that if a song gains momentum AFTER being shared on a playlist, there would, again, be a cap on how long the curators make anything out of it. I think it’s only reasonable up to a point to consider that the curators deserve money for how succesful a song becomes, and we should only consider the value of curation to create “a spark” so to speak, which means after a certain number of listen there would be no more money to be made. I think if we kept that limitation to a low(ish) number (this would require data anlysis really to set the bar I don’t have any figure in mind), it would kind of prevent curators to try to find “hits” since past a not so high number they wouldn’t gain anything out of a song being super popular or just finding its audience in a more niche or medium way.

This is all from the top of my head, maybe paying curators is just entirely a bad idea, and maybe what I’m proposing is too convoluted, but I think it’s good to always consider work as deserving of a monetized compensation and curators are definitely important especially in the cluttered and atomized current music landscape, where people turn a lot to “trusted sources” for their music listening experience.

I even think that to some extent, if we were to propose a rewarding but well thought out curation system that keeps everyone satisfied financially AND ethically, from musicians to grassroot curators to invested and politicized listeners, it could be a major argument against the current use of AI and big celebrity podcasts or other forms of gatekeeping.


A lot of this rings true to me. Having metrics that determine payout to curators based on popularity would force playlists to be fresh with new music often.


Thousands of people curate playlists on Spotify without any monetisation.
I just think it’s human nature to want to expose other people to music you are passionate about.
Sorry, I’m having a bit of a problem with building a more fair streaming service to those like Spotify, while paying people to push certain music, which will enviably mean other music gets ignored. Again, once you reward people commensurate to tracks that gain plays and popularity, you create a scenario where people will just add tracks to their playlist they know will gain popularity. Why would you make a playlist of very left field, niche tracks, knowing you’ll likely never earn a euro from any of them?


First, let me say I do agree with all the pitfalls and dangers of payouts for curation that you’re pointing (although I feel like I actually tried to answer a lot of them already in my previous post, and I would be curious to hear your thoughts on the propositions I’ve made above and how you think they’re not suited), and I don’t think it’s a given that we should do it. This being said I’d like to come back on a few of the points you’ve made;

It’s also human nature to socialize and talk but still Facebook and Twitter make money off of it because socializing inherently creates value, and value can be extracted and monetized, it’s a question of how and to who benefits from it. just because we do something “naturally” doesn’t mean it doesn’t require some effort, and it shouldn’t be valued, if we push your reasoning further, we’ve been making art and specifically music since the dawn of mankind, it’s much more natural to us than going at the office and work, why should we monetize music at all? (It’s actually a real question and maybe a debate for another place as I think it might be a little above our power here to change the whole relationship to work under capitalism, but I didn’t want to just say that like it’s absurd, it is a real question.)

So to me there’s a bit of a paradox in your comment (again, this is not at all to point fingers, or criticize your remark in a negative way, it’s very healthy that we have this discussion and you might completely be right in thinking it should stay the way it is) in that you can’t say on the one hand that you aspire to “building a more fair streaming service to those like Spotify” and on the other that it’s completely ok and good that “Thousands of people curate playlists on Spotify without any monetisation.”. Which one is it, is the Spotify model of not monetizing well… anything really but themselves, is it good ? Or is it not ? And why stop the problematic question of monetized work to the creators alone, and not extend it to curators so that we make a fair streaming service for everyone ? You say it’s human nature to want to expose other people’s artistic work, but I will tell you that I know how a few people make playlists on their free time, and I can swear to you that they put dozens of hours of active listening per week that most people wouldn’t be able to, and they still take the time to sort out those listens into meaningful, curated, tastefully thought out fashion, if we don’t value this as work, then I know plenty of things that shouldn’t be valued as work either.

I think, here, we’re at a crossroad in our reasoning : we can either choose to start a long debate about what is and what isn’t work, capitalists like nothing more than doing this, ie. decide whose productivity is desirable and should but put forth as “making money” and whose productivity is seen as a serviceable byproduct that people should just “enjoy doing in their free time” (but that they, in the end, definitely will beneficiate from either way !), OR we can try to think backwards and consider first and foremost all the different types of work that will create the value of our communal platform, and find a fair way to make it proportionate to the amount of work it represents for each of them so that no one gets spoiled.

If we do that the question would become : Will Resonate benefit from the work of regular playlist makers, curators etc. ? Will it make the platform more valuable to the users who come here to discover music ? Will it push people to listen to more music thus help musicians to reach more listens and finally sales ? I think the answer to all 3 of those questions is “Yes”, “Yes”, and again “Yes”. So if it does all that, and if it takes time, and if some people have more skill, knowledge and a desire to do it than others, why shouldn’t we consider it work ?

That’s how I justify trying to figure it out and not dismiss it as a “ah, those playlisters, they just REALLY like to listen to music, it should remain a passion”, so that I’m not, as musician, doing to them what the big corporations are doing to me when they say “ah, those musicians, they just REALLY like fullfilling their life by creating music, it should remain a passion”. Being an active, passionate, tasteful and opinionated listener is an artform, and it’s a wonderful one.

Now on to your last point

I think there needs to be several things pointed here. First, did you read my comment on deciding on a maximum listen at a low threshold after which point no playlist maker can make money out of anything which would render meaningless sharing a track that will generate a lot of listens if you don’t make any money out of it ?

We should also remember the core concept of Stream2Own. Where big playlists from Spotify have a vested interest in Payola and playlisting skyrocketting tracks because the song will make money basically as long as it’s being played, with Stream2Own that logic kinda goes out the window. Once somebody’s listened to a track 9 times, he owns it, so there’s no money to be made for the curator or the artist at that point to try to create obsessive behaviors or force the track on people so that they listen to it on repeat.

Incidentally, I would also like to use this discussion to point out a thing that’s always questionned me about the Stream2Own model : What about very long songs ? I know there are songs that I just adored, but they’re so psychologically demanding and/or time consuming, that I feel like “the value of 1 listen” equals to the value of multiple listens in another case, and if that’s the case, I just won’t listen to them a lot, but in any streaming model (stream2own included), this “listen” will have as much value. Is there a feature I’ve missed in Resonate about it? Like, if there’s a 20 minutes song, to me, if I stayed 20 minutes listening to only one track, it shows support. It always felt weird to me that an artist should better split his one 20 minutes song in 5 parts to make more money.

Anyway, this was in no way meant to end the discussion and I welcome any comment on everything I just said, I’ll be very interested to know if anyone thought of all this and see any risk I might have missed (there probably are dozens of them), and I think it’s crucial that we talk about this.


Great thread! Perhaps we should insist on a human rationale for the choice and sequence of tracks in a curated playlist… that could be done in written words, voice snippets or maybe even pictures, as evidence of some care and creativity. Curators who put thought into their selections might not be be deterred by being asked to do that? Populist picking and commercial and algorithmic gaming of playlist selections would find it a burden to ‘invent’ a rationale to the extent that it was uneconomic. And if they did, it would be exposed for what it is… and moderated out? I like storytelling and I think it could be rewarded fairly.

BTW Pay per play minute is definitely a factor that we could build into the algorithm for different content types … but until we can do that, an ability and prompt to make a fair donation of credit directly to an artist or curator is perhaps the quickest way to get this done? A subscription model as @richjensen described above might also go well with this, for ‘established’ and regular curators.


I must admit I’m not a fan of this, feels like just another way of saying the actual playlisting work isn’t really work, and so we give an edge to people who are better at “packaging” it best which is a skill not all playlisters have and some will be unfairly excluded. It replaces a bias by another, and it’s a bit alined with the current trend of asking people to be great at everything or not be allowed to exist. I also don’t think it particularly preserves us from populist and commercial gaming playlists, on the contrary they’ve proven countless times how good they are in “creating a rational” that looks and feels human, for not that much money.

To me building a structure where it is inherently impossible to make extreme profits and exploit/game numbers past a point (a sort of “progressive tax” logic which in a way is already implied in the stream2own concept) while making sure on the other hand that someone who invests time to improve the quality of life for people who don’t have time to explore the platform gets rewarded in some meaningful way, that will be the only way to protect ourselves from predatory behaviors, not dictating the value of some types of work/skills over others.

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Sorry if I unintentionally suggested playlisting wasn’t work… I think it’s hugely valuable and should be rewarded. Maybe adding a little rationale IS burdensome? But from a personal perspective I love the stories and the ‘rationale’ around it… however it is expressed.


Please don’t apologize :slight_smile: I really didn’t mean to be agressive. What I mean is I don’t think we should make a reflexion around curation as (paid) work tied to the condition of an additionnal form of work on top of it. Some people could do it that way and it’ll certainly appeal to some, if it appeals more, maybe they’ll make a little more money from it which will reflect from the effort they put into the diverse aspects of their playlists. And others will gain more from sharing new songs more frequently because that’s how their hours of work they didn’t spent “creating a rational” will translate. The idea is really to try and be fair to everyone to the scale of their habilities and workload.

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As someone trying to make music I don’t have time to argue my point very much further.
It seems like making playlists and saying it is ‘work’ is like hiring a DJ. There IS a problem with a kind of ‘payola’ on Spotify. As an independent artist you are basically asked to pay to get your tracks considered for the most popular playlists. If playlist curators are paid on Resonate, there needs to be some kind of official oversight.
To me this whole thing just seems to be a more more complicated and prone to abuse than it needs to be. I just don’t think Resonate needs to go there.

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This is exactly right. There should be a non-quantitative incentive structure. Still reflecting on the how…

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What kind of oversight would you envision?
How about curators aren’t curators before it is noticed in the statistics that the ‘curator’ or rather just regular user has actually created organic growth in playlists a certain amount of times to be determined.
As for oversight, I cold imagine kicking or at least discouraging people creating playlists share these with their ‘inidian family’ whom lives at a clickfarm and this way making extremely unknown before ‘music’ known through spam.
This is just a exaggerated example.

Also quite often labels and artists themselves will create some playlists linked to their account.
To promote their latest releases or an overall ‘image’ of their label’s sound signature and roster of artists.
I think this will come quite naturally.


hi! very late to this topic, but upon reading the whole thread, here are some of my ideas that could maybe be implemented to provide checks / balance (they’re not all necessarily compatible with one another):

  1. incentivize early adopters. fans that discover a track and playlist it early—before a song gets traction—receive a proportionally larger slice of the pie for their commitment to a song that [at the time of their involvement with it] had no traction. “curate to earn” progressive earning model. The reward gets progressively smaller the later you are to something. This prevents over saturation of the same tracks and encourages people to take chances on hidden gems. The main dynamic remains in play though: listeners aren’t paid to listen. They will bail if the playlist isn’t good! This creates a tug of war between unearthing underplayed songs and digitally “crate digging” the platform. So curators are incentivized to find hidden gems that are also listenable and engaging. This is a very desirable outcome imo!! BUT, this is also something that can use up a curator’s credits much faster than a casual listener’s and further justifies this as needing to be rewarded. Overall, if you ask me, this is pretty close to what people already do when making playlists.

  2. split curator rewards proportionally. if 100 curators playlist the same song, that song will get more traction on the platform, but curators will see less of a reward for it because so many curators have added the track. i see this as similar to hashrate / price correlation in PoW cryptocurrency mining communities. This makes it so that a track can gain significant support, but will never be incentivized to be ubiquitous or gamed because there is a diminishing return. Eventually, you oversaturate and all incentive is lost as listeners will be fatigued by the song. the arguments about gaming the system and “popular” songs getting more traction are overblown imo because the audience would respond by skipping these tracks or abandoning these playlist properties for being overly derivative or generic.

  3. make the implementation of curator rewards randomized and not an always “on” feature. if they are not always applied and only enacted some of the time, or through a fair, but completely opaque process (if this is allowed by the co-op) then curator behavior won’t be as influenced by it. Instead, people will behave as normal, and receive random credit “airdrops” for their curation work.

  4. songs featured in playlists curated by artists or labels that own the rights to them should be omitted from curator earning eligibility (songs in the playlist that they don’t own the rights to remain eligible though).

  5. make it so a curator account isn’t available outright and instead decide upon some criteria / platform-specific threshold that can be used to grant eligibility to users that demonstrate desirable qualities / behaviors to obtain a curator-tier account.

I can see more negatives than positives.
One of the biggest crises in post internet music is the popularity algorithm. This is doing everything from paying people to ‘like’ tracks, but also influencing artists to make music that is appealing within the first 30 seconds, rather than whatever creative thought is powering their music.
Spotify (and others) reward instant pop and de-incentivise more challenging music, slow burners and anything that takes a few listens to appreciate.
Resonate should run in the opposite direction to Spotify, Tik-Tok and all the other platforms that reward instant popularity - because it’s the McDonalds and Coke approach to music and art.


History absolutely signals the opposite. In terms of public awareness, The Osmonds and Pat Boone were regarded as ‘good’ and ‘listenable’ by millions and millions, while Zappa, Beefhart, Nick Cave and George Clinton toiled for decades in relative obscurity. Which artists powered music forward and have fostered more diversity and quality over the years?

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My views on this:

  • Yes, pay/credit for playlists. It has value. Let’s do it with moderation though.
  • Yes to rewarding the quest for good, underappreciated pieces. It helps us all.
  • If paying money feels wrong in any way, I’d go for (a) credit-only plus (b) offering the option of donating it to the coop (“Your curating work has value! Would you like to get listening credits for it, or do you prefer to donate this work to the coop?”)