Before I get going, I really would suggest you read:
In the latter, I asked myself the question:
What would it take to make streaming work for those who make the music that’s streamed?
and I got to an unwelcome answer;
A streaming service that works for BOTH listener AND musician is unlikely to succeed based upon a listener usage model
which left me dissatisfied, frustrated and
[as a problem solver]
even more keen to work out what would work. Essentially, what I showed in the MusicFayre thought experiment was that there was no way to pay a musician a substantial amount per stream without quickly amping up the cost to the listener to beyond reasonable.
So, back to the drawing board it was.
Then Ello.co launched and – though I’m not completely sold on the interface, nor find enough of my network on there to make it a go-to – there was one factoid that stuck with me: they committed to never monetize their users, either through ads or data-mining.
[now, whether that’s true or not, remains a long-term question]
An altruistic start-up? Really?
Now THAT got me thinking…
I began to connect the ideas within the two posts above:
Thank you for making music, I’m glad you’re doing so, and want you to keep doing so, here’s a buck, or ten, or twenty, keep going…
A streaming service that works for BOTH listener AND musician
and, eventually, the rocket struck.
What if the streaming service didn’t want to make a profit?
[i.e. if it did an Ello.co]
Wouldn’t that change things? And the answer is, it certainly would. Because once profit is out of the question, things become MUCH more doable. Let’s step into thought-experiment-land again:
- Let’s form a non-profit called TipJar
- TipJar creates a streaming service available only upon a paid-membership basis (no free listens)
- Members of TipJar pay a flat-fee of $5.50 per month – this buys them 500 streamed tracks
- Any streamed tracks above the 500 get charged at 1c per track over and above the membership fee
- The 1c per track in totality is passed to the musician/artist who owns the track, as a charity payment (there is no TipJar royalty skimmed off the top of stream rates)
- That spare 50c of the monthly membership fee goes to service overhead (10% running costs is a pretty fair standard for non-profits)
- (US-ONLY – unconfirmed at the moment) Member could get to claim tax relief upon membership because it’s a donation to a non-profit
- Service is marketed to music lovers in the original spirit of Tip Jar – support music directly, not by padding the pockets of the profiteering streaming services
Now, let’s revisit our two users from the MusicFayre post:
Our hard-core member, Bob, listens to 2,800 songs in a month. He pays TipJar $28.50 (allowing for 20% tax relief, $22.80).
Our reasonable member, Tyler, listens to 560 songs in a month. He pays TipJar $6.10 (allowing for 20% tax relief, $4.88).
Now, those rates are beginning to sound reasonable. If I knew 100% of my streaming payment was going to the musicians/writers who made the music, with no brokers, I would pay those rates. Would you?
1c, you may say, that’s not very much?!! And truthfully, it isn’t, HOWEVER, according to this link, Spotify’s per-stream rate in 2013 was between 0.6c and 0.8c, so in essence TipJar is increasing the rate substantially, while halving the subscription costs for paid members.
Need I mention the side-benefits: ad-free, no data selling, opportunity for social community building between artist and audience, option to tip more just by way of thanks, etc, etc, etc.
This thought experiment provides a potential WIN-WIN for artist and audience, by removing the profit motive from streaming.
So what do you think? Presuming everything worked as described, and TipJar was a really nice site/app:
- Would you choose to be a member?
- Would you choose to use it as an artist?
- How attractive is the notion of being a patron of the arts, supporting music simply by the act of listening at TipJar?
Let me know, because if enough people are positive about this, I might just go on to build it.