Additional sources of income

KoenKoen Administrator

This discussion is a bit different than most. The amount of free users has increased massively, and that is fantastic. Operating the servers for those users is not free, and currently the income generated by most free users is around 0. Don't worry, this is not some plea for donations, Astiga is not close to bankruptcy, etc. However, I have been looking for additional sources of income, so that free users are more sustainable, and that is more difficult than it sounds. What I am trying to find is a way that does not annoy you, the user, and also does not sell your information to a dozen companies, like some ads seem to do nowadays. I still value you and your right to privacy.

So, how does Astiga currently make money? There are essentially two ways: Astiga Premium and pCloud affiliation. I believe both are a pretty "fair", both provide convenience and additional functionality.

What I have been looking into is music recommendations, just like someone in a record shop would recommend an album to you, based on context. E.g. if you are looking at the artist page for Adele, and you own the albums "19" and "21", then it might recommend "25" to you. This would simply be based on the page you are looking at, and not based on some elaborate profile of all things you have done on the internet (or even in Astiga). I don't have such a profile of you, and I intend to keep it that way. This would then either play an excerpt of the album, or link you to a shop of some kind where you can buy the album (of which a small percentage would go to Astiga). This would all be loaded by Astiga, not the external shop, so they would not be able to track you (until you click on the link). They would at most be able to deduce that "someone using Astiga" was looking at Adele.

I think that having such a system would be interesting, and also useful for you and for me. I am pretty sure not everyone would like it, so I do plan to add a switch to turn it off (at least for premium, not 100% sure about free users), or at least make it "Adblock-friendly" (so you can block the entire thing and the space it occupies easily).

The reason I have not implemented any of this yet is because I have not yet found a digital music store that I could integrate this with. Apple seems to redirect their web version of iTunes to Apple Music, which makes sense, but for obvious reasons is not quite what I am looking for :-). Amazon splits everything out between the different countries. If I were to limit it to the USA (where most of you are from), then I would just be able to get paid in gift cards, and gift cards don't pay server bills. Other digital music shops don't seem to be interested in this type of affiliate marketing.

I have also been looking at tracker-free, "ethical" advertising (the ethics of ads itself is a different story of course). There seems to be surprisingly little offering on that front. The only option I found so far is ContextCue, which from testing seems to mostly show ads for ContextCue itself, so I am not sure how effective that is going to be. Plus, they pay per click, and I don't think you (plural) are the type that tends to click on ads anyway.

Then there is merchandise of course, but I doubt anyone would want to walk around in an Astiga hoodie :-)

So, here is maybe a bit of a strange request, but do you have any suggestions? Maybe I have missed something.

Comments

  • CoyleyCoyley Member
    edited March 25

    I pay for both Astiga and Pcloud so I am perhaps not a typical user (I am also in UK not USA). The prices on both are good and I'm happy to do so.

    I think it would be fair to limit the free version a little more to a certain amount of albums or similar. The recent growth is likely due to migration from Google Music, which people were generally paying for (I was).

    I'm a long way into my music listening now, so I do not need more recommendations. I discover new music all the time through such as radio, specific forum sites, Mixcloud and Bandcamp (and inevitably checking back to Youtube for out of circulation music too). My tastes are eclectic, ranging from uptempo Soul music through to Japanese Ambient. I would find anything from Apple or Amazon too generic and focused on obvious recommnedations. Those services are okay at serving up the next choice in general genres, but less good beyond core popular music genres. For all the talk of AI, I have found it has not progressed beyond 'more of the same' in music today across all the services. For example, I found the choices Spotify makes for my son to be fairly mundane.

    I have been around this process many times as I have made money through music in multiple ways - I used to write about and sell music with links to stores, first with Amazon and then I set up a legal music download service that grew so fast, I then ended up working with labels to package the music into themed CDs. That was in a very niche area of music that I expanded out from over time to cover more non-chart bases. But what I was able to do then, isn't really as possible today.

    With the sale of CDs declining to a niche audience alongside vinyl, there are fewer general stores to monetize your association through these days. Apple will not want you to do it, Amazon is fragmented and complex as you say. I'll be intrigued to see where you go. For high download legal downloads I use Qobuz or Bandcamp, but it does not cover everything.

    The primary issue now is that music is moving to online streaming, where it is harder for third parties to make money through their association. I saw the entry of Amazon and Apple to downloading and then the ending of physical music sales entirely over time. I withdrew from legal downloading as artists would duplicate list at Apple or Amazon for less revenue share and sales (as poor discovery methods there) but because of the brand pull. Vinyl is a luxury product that has so many bad pressings even for expensive releases (I have had many vinyl collections and do not intend to go back there now), CDs are a wonderful digital medium but out of fashion (but keep them, they are a very efficienct storage medium for music that will not be available in future or ever on streaming services).

    Over time, the future issue is that copyright holders just do not want customers to buy a product once when they can monetize it online many times - this is true in every entertainment media. That makes it hard to make money from click through recommendations, when the money made is from tiny slices of click revenue each time. The issue with picking one online platform to link into, is the difficult also of who to pick - as that only works for those that people already use.

    I am getting off the subject. I support the aspiration to find new sources of income. I believe Astiga has a right to ask more of its users over time to contribute. Anything that is added, as you say, must have a switch off for paid users. I want a clean listening experience that is not disturbed by ever more content appearing. I try to separate my listening from my discovery, those are two different parts and if not careful we can become drained by finding ever more music but not taking the time to listen to it fully.

    As I say, I know I'm not a general user or typical and maybe also an older user too. So I welcome the other thoughts here.

    I am interested to see where your researches lead. Best wishes with it.

    Post edited by Coyley on
  • KoenKoen Administrator

    Of course everything will be turn-offable (if that's a word). It's something I've been looking into since I believe 2018, and thus far nothing has happened, especially because I could not find a way to implement it in a manner that I would consider to be not obnoxious (otherwise I'd have just used Google Ads or something like that). There is a large chance this time will be no different.

  • CoyleyCoyley Member

    Thanks Koen. That's appreciated as always. I appreciate the purity we have in the playback interface, configured to the individual's requirement.

  • I'm a premium member. And I'm absolutely in love with the service. I think, maybe an option, is to try to increase the pay members... Maybe some limitations for free users? Or some banners?

  • Please no banners (even though I am a premium member). Or only subtle banners relevant to the music (partnership with https://cdbaby.com/ or https://www.show.co/ads/ (more info here: https://soundcharts.com/blog/music-marketing-tools), music magazines or local record shops) or technology (storage promotions from partners).

    Also agree that difference between premium and free should be much bigger. Maybe add limit to how many songs you can play or a certain lifetime to using the app for free. Or only support one storage partner and let people pay for premium account to add others. Or maybe the option to pay a one time amount for the app instead of a monthly payment system (you can provide both options)?

    Any plans to integrate Bandcamp as a storage option? Their app is rather bad, they could gain by letting their library being accessed by a third-party app. Maybe integrate an option where customer can buy music on bandcamp through Astiga (and you can earn a percentage on that transaction). Or use Bandcamp as the digital music store you're looking for.

    Also, with people becoming more and more aware of their online privacy, it wouldn't hurt to focus your branding more on that aspect.

  • KoenKoen Administrator

    I have no intention of adding irrelevant, obnoxious banners. Especially the flashy moving kind. I absolutely hate those, so I think it'd be hypocritical to impose those on others.

    I'll look into CDBaby. I have tried what you describe with Bandcamp in the past (that'd be my first choice, actually), but in the past they have said that they had no interest in that. Maybe that has changed in the last year, although I doubt it.

  • ChrisChris Member

    Hello,

    I'm wondering if one way to differentiate the free verses the paid levels of service might be something along the lines of offering "profiles" associated with types of music in one's storage repositories. That is to say that a person having a free subscription would be limited to one "profile", but a premium member would be able to have multiple "profiles" where each "profile" has a full range of features.

    Let me describe this as examples of what's currently available and what could be done with what I'm thinking of as "profiles".

    Currently, let's say that I, with a free subscription, have a lot of music that would generally be categorized as rock and it's in my Google Drive storage. Right now I can go into the Astiga player (or other players) and select that I'd like to listen to songs/albums that have been identified as "progressive rock", or I can select that I'd like to listen to my music that was released in the 80's. However, I generally prefer to just let the player go Artist/Random/Shuffle so that I can hear all of my rock tunes throughout my work-time listening experience. Now, let's also say that I have a collection of classical music. If I add that to my pCloud storage and sync that along with my Google Drive storage, then I may get some Vivaldi between Tull and the Stones. That's not exactly what I'd want if I was trying to focus at work. I could adjust this by choosing a genre or time period, but limiting my selection to just a narrow subset of my rock collection, just to remove my classical music from that part of my day, would not be preferable.

    Now, as an empowered premium member, I may associate my Google Drive storage with a profile that we'll call Chris-rock, and I can associate my pCloud storage with a profile that may be called Chris-classical. During my work time, I can fire up Astiga and say that I'm Chris-rock, where I can randomly play all of my rock tunes. After work time, I can stop that profile and chill by becoming Chris-classical. When I'm within a profile, I won't have to worry about any music from outside my profile spilling into my preferred profile listening time. And while I'm in one of my profiles, the other features, such as listening to a specific genre or decade of music may still be selected. However, while I'm in Chris-rock I’ll likely still select Artist/Random/Shuffle, and while in Chris-classical I'll likely select Album/Random so that I can listen to a full symphony. 

    I’m thinking that this won't have to be limited to storages provided by different vendors. In an envisioned embodiment for a premier member, one folder of my Google Drive could be my rock collection, another folder could be my classical music, and another folder could be my Doo-Wop collection. As a premium member, I could associate Chris-rock with my rock and Doo-Wop folders, and Chris-classical with my classical music collection. Or, if I wanted to I could have a third profile called Chris-doowop for the Doo-Wop folder. A free subscriber may have these same folders, but would not be able to create/associate those folders with different profiles.

    Best regards,

    Chris

Sign In or Register to comment.