Resolution to allow artists to set prices to buy content

I’m working on this resolution to be discussed and voted on at the upcoming annual general member meeting (as far as I know, no date has been set yet, but it’s usually towards the end of the year).

Resolution text is here.

I’ve copied it below, but if there’s edits, the cryptpad will be source of truth though I’ll try to keep this text up to date!


Resolution to allow artists to set prices to buy content

TERMS

Artist - Anyone who uploads content and owns the rights to said content on Resonate
Album - A combination of tracks stored as a trackgroup in our database, as determined by the artist. Not the same as playlists.

WHEREAS Resonate aims to empower artists on their own terms;

WHEREAS Platforms, technology companies, and corporations should not dictate the terms of distribution;

WHEREAS The current stream2own model makes it very expensive for a user to buy an album of many short songs;

WHEREAS The current stream2own model provides very little income for artists with albums with a few long songs;

WHEREAS Services like Bandcamp charge a 15% fee on digital purchases;

THEREFORE Let it be resolved that Resonate will allow artists to set a price for purchase of albums, alongside current purchase options;

THEREFORE Let it be resolved that a purchased album will mark all tracks on the album as purchased;

THEREFORE Let it be resolved that Resonate will not take more than a 15% cut for album purchases.


One caveat to this resolution is that if a member sets a price for an album, and it’s higher than what the album would cost if a user streamed it through stream2own, then they could “hack” the system by just listening to each track 9 times. I don’t think there’s a “fix” for this hack, and I’m not sure that it needs to be within the purview of this resolution to have such a fix. I just want artists to ask for a price and people to be able to pay that price.

I’m curious to hear people’s thoughts!

3 Likes

The caveat is big and have always been a problem with Resonate, there is no easy fix and artists will probably complain that “fixing their price makes no sense if people can bypass it” so maybe the “bad fix for now” would be to set a max price at 1.25€ per song. There’s obviously no easy fix for this with S2O’s current implementation.

This will nonetheless have my vote at the next AGM, and I’m in support of this.

The 15% cut is really essential, the 30% cut straight up makes us look bad.

Do you mean setting an upper limit to an album? I’m not sure I understand what you’re suggesting.

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Yes, I mean, that’s what will happen (the upper limit will define the max price to own it under S2O terms, so if it’s a 20 tracks album, you can price it 30€ but under S2O it will be 25€…).

The two options are 1/ a disclaimer (“people will be able to purchase your music for xxx€ via Stream 2 Own by streamibg it”) 2/ an enforced limit (“per Stream 2 Own’s rules, the max price for an album is the number of songs xx 1.25€”)

Either way is kind of a bummer, and I’ll support the first one if we decide to!

Okay, yeah, so I think 2/ defeats the purpose of the resolution, especially for short albums. 1/ sounds okay to me though.

To me, the spirit of Resonate is that people are willing to pay for music, they’re not trying to trick artists out of money.

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Agreed, overall, any measure that gives back agency to the artist over the price of their music is good for me sincerely. The “one song = fixed price of xx€” narrative should not be a thing.

I wonder if one potentially easier way of solving it is with the 9th stream which is the costliest. So if, as an artist, your goal is to charge 25€ for an album in one case and 17€ in another, I bet the easiest way to do that is leave the first 8 streams as they are, but change the ownership stream (the 9th) for the whole album, so in some cases the 9th stream might be 10 cents each, in others it might be higher.

This pricing would get unlocked after listening to a complete album 3 or 4 times, because that’s usually when, for me at least, I’m sure that I love that album and want to own and experience the whole thing as a complete work.

That’s an interesting suggestion @peter. I worry that the introduction of even more arbitrary numbers to a system that’s already not as easy to understand as other platforms would move us in the wrong direction. Having a system that is simple, clear, and easy to succinctly explain reduces confusion and makes Resonate attractive to new users and helps bring people in.


With respect to the above proposal more generally, I agree that the 15% would make us competitive with Bandcamp, and empowering artists to set their own prices (rather than our devs creating a rigid top-down immutable and inflexible scheme) aligns well with Resonate’s Manifesto in my mind. I have a hard time seeing why providing artists with more agency over their music could be a bad thing!

Some of these threads offer valuable criticism on various aspects of our current Stream2Own offering and seem to offer evidence of support for the above proposal can be found here:

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This honestly sounds much more complex than just associating a price to a trackgroup and adding an endpoint that allows a user to mark the album and all of its tracks as purchased.

This sounds like we’d need to implement the functionality for the artist to calculate at how many streams they want their album to be purchased, then have them calculate the value they think the 9th stream should be. Then on the back-end we’d need a way of storing that value, alongside taking it into consideration every time we calculate how much has been paid for a song, and making sure it’s different from all other functionality. It’s not clear to me how this pricing becomes unlocked either. If an artist sets their 9th stream to a certain value, wouldn’t it always be that value? Or would we have to track that additionally, that 9th stream is only that value if the other songs on the album have also been played x times?

Additionally, right now we only track if songs are “owned” based on how many plays it’s received. This means that when a user decides to outright buy a track (ie paying the difference in streams) we artificially insert plays into the database to make it look like the user listened to the song x times. This seems like it would be a reporting problem to me cause we’re fudging actual “stream” numbers.

3 Likes

i had a thought about @psi’s resolution for artist-configurable pricing, but never formalized my membership so can’t reply over there.

how about extending the scale and allowing people to change the number of plays to own a track? this way you can give people enough flexibility with pricing, but n plays on any track is always the same price, and s2o stays in sync with sale prices

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I really like this proposition, although if prices ramp up exponantially, it means 10th play can only be 1,25€ and 11th can only be 2,5€ so that limits exactly how much flexibility people have to fixate prices, either that OR fixing a price that’s not within the exponantial scale of Resonate’s pricing will break the “n plays is always the same price” (ie. the “last play” will have varying price depending on the price set by artists).

I’m ok with anything though, this doesn’t fix anything regarding the tyrany of fixed pricing of each incremental play, but it’s already a step towards being able to setup your own prices.

The risk as always is over-engineering to the detriment of the user, but this is a problem with Resonate’s S2O offer overall anyway. Typically, some months can be extremely expensive, and adding the potentiality for single plays that cost 1,25€ or 2,5€ makes that “threat” surrounding the uncertainty of what you’re going to spend by listening to extreme levels. So that added complexity makes the user have to deal with the over-engineering by constantly being self-aware of his listening patterns and attitude, moreso because if prices aren’t fixed and scales are moving, then you’re never sure where you stand which can make the experience of listening to music downright stressful by it being directly correlated to the threat of overspending.

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I’ll echo that one of my main motivations comes from the fear of over-engineering. Setting a per-album purchase price is simple, well understood by the user (artist and listener), and easy to implement. Tweaking of plays needed to indicate purchase of a song seems like it introduces a lot of complexity not just in the data, but also in the accounting, and in the explaining we’ll have to do to listeners and musicians.

A question I have for @replygirl and @peter is whether their proposals could stand alongside the above resolution or are they alternatives (is it one or the other?)?

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I’m all for “do what is easiest to increase revenues for everyone” so in that context it would make more sense to propose more complex stuff later. Go with whatever you think is the fastest option to ship @psi ! :purple_heart:

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seconding this. i think “# of streams” could be made simple with an album/track price slider for artists but agree with psi thered be some extra explanation needed and a basic price field would be the most straightforward for people

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