Is there a “what’s next” for Tip-Jar?

Before I get going, I really would suggest you read:

  1. Is it time for Tip Jar?
  2. Fair Music? MusicFayre? Play With Me…

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 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]

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:

  1. Let’s form a non-profit called TipJar
  2. TipJar creates a streaming service available only upon a paid-membership basis (no free listens)
  3. Members of TipJar pay a flat-fee of $5.50 per month – this buys them 500 streamed tracks
  4. Any streamed tracks above the 500 get charged at 1c per track over and above the membership fee
  5. 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)
  6. That spare 50c of the monthly membership fee goes to service overhead (10% running costs is a pretty fair standard for non-profits)
  7. (US-ONLY – unconfirmed at the moment) Member could get to claim tax relief upon membership because it’s a donation to a non-profit
  8. 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:

  1. Would you choose to be a member?
  2. Would you choose to use it as an artist?
  3. 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.


Vince Sig 131x89


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