@VisserWon This will definitely be important as we work. Remember to report any issues you find! 🙂
I found out about Astiga on the Bliss website, just after purchasing Bliss. I am a typical Cloud hater, have spared no cost and time to tag, organise and not to forget store all my music. Heaps of disks, backup systems, sync scripts. I purchased Bliss to 'retire' a bit from manual tagging :-).
I will NEVER have subscriptions like Spotify, Netflix and the like. I hate subscriptions. I always forget them, something happens in my life and I pay years for something I don't use. And, it is said above. I am someone who wants to OWN my stuff. My music, but also my software and systems. Things I can use when there is no internet or companies change their minds.
"Your own private Spotify" was one tag-line I was considering for the Astiga homepage 😄 I agree with the above and it's where the service will continue to be oriented. Whether that's good positioning or not will become evident!
Regarding subscriptions - remember Astiga can be paid month-by-month, manually without a recurring payment.
Just to have a bigger selection than I can take on my phone or laptop. It took quite some time to select a subset, convert from flac to AAC and upload them. I had no experience in subsonic apps so it took some more time to have an idea if this all would be worth it.
So first remark, 7 days is waay to short for a 'free trial'. I wanted to know how fast the syncing would be and how the app/browsers would scroll through larger amounts of songs. This I could not have done within 7 days. Heck I am still in the middle of the process. If I would have seen 7 days I would have not tried it to begin with.
Ok, thanks. Yes, I did wonder about the case where the files must be prepared and uploaded - whether this wouldn't be enough time. All I'd say is the 7 days is the first line in the sand - I could move it.
Why were you converting to AAC? To save space?
What I might do (and thanks for jogging my memory on this) is to actually offer an extension when the 7 days is ending. I suppose that might not help though if people feel the upfront work is too much.
Second remark I see that the premium version does tagging/artwork. You probably have your own Bliss running there, but for me that is not needed. That is a very polite way of saying no-one touches my tagging :-). I can see however that this functionality could be worth an (even higher) monthly fee for some people that do not want to go in the OCD world of tagging themselves.
bliss is not related to the current tagging facility in Astiga.
That said IF you would implement a Spotify-like algorythm to generate playlists I would be very interested. Premium-Plus?
Yes - or Premium-Plus-Plus 😂
@Cernunnos Thanks! Hopefully we can keep providing a good service!
@Ccastigl Thanks for voicing your opinion, it's always gratefully received. As I said, feel free to follow up in the future if you have anything else come to mind (e.g. pricing ideas, in this case).
@Mike Yeah pricing is often a balance of trying to avoid complexity while pricing fairly for the value. I suppose a pay-as-you-listen credit system could be an alternative!
I've been using Astiga for years now. I agree with this quote wholeheartedly. I'm still encountering minor lag and bugs when streaming (FLAC+320kpbs mp3, google drive, gigabit ethernet).
This is top of mind - since taking over I've seen this a fair bit.
One problem is replication, including network environments. Even a normally-good Internet connection can sometimes get glitchy. As a result, people often blame the tools that are most obvious at the time - e.g. the app that is front and centre. But I do know that we can do more here. Having more revenue will also allow us to scale up the hardware to avoid compute or network issues on our side.
Regardless of bugs, Astiga satisfies a small (and shrinking!) niche or people who have their own collection of high quality music. As a result, I'm not sure your goal of having Astiga compete with "big tech streaming services" is realistic.
This is one of the "big calls" I'm making really. I'm betting on people continuing to want to curate and build music libraries. I half wonder if we've already gone past the period where the number of people managing their own collections collapses. It's also been quite interesting on social media in the past week or so after the Joe Rogan/Neil Young debacle. Although how long this lasts is anyone's guess.
And remember: on the Internet, even a "niche" can be sustainable when it's global.
New users will have to make a decision- is it worth replacing their current system with Astiga? Regardless of the answer, I doubt that 7 days is enough for a solid answer.
Getting a lot of pushback on this so I'm definitely going to be measuring this with a mind to trying different lengths. 😓
People with large collections of hi-fi audio usually already have systems in place to listen to it. From my perspective, Astiga cuts out the need for a lot of the systems (Like a NAS or something). [...]
IMO, Astiga is the "glue" that ties the backend (google drive, FTP, nas) to the frontend (subsonic apps on your phone and computer). It doesn't seem important, but anyone considering alternatives may be surprised how difficult it is to find something as robust as asti.ga. That being said, it may be more cost effective in the long run to buy a raspberry pi zero and set it up as a subsonic server. And that's if you absolutely NEED subsonic. There are plenty of apps out there, for free or a one-time purchase, that will just stream your music from your cloud server.
Interesting perspective. I'm active in the "self hosting" environment too, given the development of the bliss product. Apps like Plex, Navidrome, Subsonic, fb2k, Roon, Volumio and the rest are all active there. But they do tend to take a bit of effort or tech chops to setup. So that's an interesting angle. I think the great challenge in "onboarding" an Astiga user is getting to their music, somehow.
I can't imagine that this decision was an easy one. But I feel like it would still be possible to have a free tier, without incurring significant costs.
I haven't completely jettisoned the idea of free. One thing that came to mind is an app that didn't connect to Astiga but instead connected directly to your storage provider and played from there. This would be limited - no transcoding (except on your device), no tags etc. But it might be a useful tool, and a good marketing tool too.
I joined Asti.ga because I wanted a subscription-free way to listen to music. I wanted to make sure that if this thing tanked, I would have an exit strategy. That being said, I understand money is tight for everyone, and that you want this service to grow. Apologies if you have already thought of this, but maybe you could limit the free tier to only one "backend" connection account? @gravelld
Remember that it's not just recurring subs - you can pay month-to-month if you like.
I did wonder about limiting the number of storage accounts, but I wasn't convinced, from looking at our numbers, that it would be representative of value. You could have a massive storage account and continue on using it.
> We will be limiting new free accounts to 7 days usage.
> free users do still incur a cost. Each stream is routed via Astiga servers, and this costs in both bandwidth and compute resources. So the free tier does have a real cost
Some quick thoughts:
As others have said, seven days isn't long enough for someone to become addicted. Try 3-6 months. You want users to get used to using it daily, and seven days isn't nearly long enough to be habit/addiction forming. I don't even sign up for seven day trials any more unless I'm 99.44% sure I'm going to buy, and then it's just b/c I'm a cheapskate who wants 7 days free.
Re: the cost of free users -- I'm betting the Astiga app routes most of the bandwidth (the actual music part) directly from the cloud provider, right? You're not paying for that bandwidth, are you? That is, there's a cost, but with tiny servers at Linode with 1 TB a month bandwidth at $5/mth, my guess is that the cost per free user, even going 24/7, is miniscule compared to that.
(30 days x 24 hours x 60 minutes = 43200 min. Even if you routed every song through Astiga, guessing 2.5 meg a minute, that's 0.108 TB a month, so about 54¢ per 24/7 user plus Astiga's overhead. Is that right? (Network in is free on Linode.) On average, let's call that 25¢ a month average for a user (since they're not using it 24/7), tops, if Astiga is written wrong! If it's just overhead and the music streams direct from cloud providers, sounds more like 2-5¢ per month-user?)
That is, it's enough to boot freeloaders (you're trying to make money! That's fine! It's good!) and it's low enough it means you can probably charge whatever it's worth to those who are left and make money.
What is it worth? The best comp I can come up with is iTunes Match for $25 a year. I can upload anything. iTunes is a kinda craptastic player at this point (NSFW, and some hyperbole, but hilarious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gE8ZikfrpFU). But it's a good service that I've used before. That's crossplatform players *plus* storage for $2.09 a month, though you can't use Android.
(Unlike some other comments, I don't feel you can compare to the money users spend on music. Like iTunes Match, you're not providing music. You're a cloud player, full stop (though they are also storage).)
Where does Astiga excel for me? That is, what worth am I measuring? It's a solid web player. The last.fm integration is :chef's kiss:. Integration with pCloud is great (and I wonder if you and/or Koen got your cut when I signed up there last year).
What would I do if I couldn't use Astiga? Probably shell out the one-time $6.99 to purchase the fully featured version of Cloudbeats (which I think I'm doing soon anyhow; they should give you a kickback), my iOS pCloud player, so that it will scrobble to last.fm. Then I'd listen there instead of via my browser during work. And I'd probably use pCloud's craptastic web player in a pinch until I found something better.
So great last.fm integration in a competent web player... If you gave me one cloud provider and last.fm for $1 a month, $10 a year, I'd pay.
Then you'd have a regular, low-maintenance user making you at least $9 or so a year.
I realize that might put me below the "freeloaders" threshold, but I hope not!
How could you get me to pay more? You'd have to have a tier above basic that enticed me. Allow me to edit tags on files, not just in Astiga, which I don't think you can do now. Maybe put FLAC playback, the ability to use multiple cloud hosts, etc behind that "pro" tier. Maybe use other users' history to sell me recommendations or, lots easier, advertise new releases for artists I have -- didn't Banshee used to sell Amazon tracks in-app? Idk.
And for heaven's sake, give me a UI that I don't have to reload to see what's in my queue, and has accurate counts of artists where I own lots of tracks. You know, improve the experience past a rough-around-the-edges but still loveable mvp. 😉 Maybe there's a basic tier that lets you use Classic Astiga while the Pros get to see the new one you're working on that fixes all those bugs?
But your real challenge is how do you get tons of basic users? There, you got me. Allow me to share playlists (but not listening)? You could use something social to allow me to advertise on top of your own advertising. How do I tell others I'm using Astiga?
Anyhow, that's longer than I meant to write.
1. Long trial times to get people addicted.
2. Cheap tier for basic functions (well under $25 a year).
3. I'm not super bullish on pro tiers, but FLAC in particular might entice some.
It's a neat app, but unfortunately it has a lot of competition. The marginal value is going to be low. Luckily I think your overhead per user can be too!
Good luck. Hope I can continue to be a customer. ;^)
Nope, all content goes via the Astiga server, so we do pay for it. Luckily, as I alluded to in the first post, Koen was originally mindful of this and we have a good deal on egress. We do this to support things like transcoding.
and I wonder if you and/or Koen got your cut when I signed up there last year
Yes, we continue to get affiliate payments from pCloud, although these don't amount to an awful lot. Nice little bit of diversification though.
Allow me to edit tags on files, not just in Astiga, which I don't think you can do now.
This is definitely where we want to go. A supercharged UX comparable to mainstream music streaming.
Allow me to share playlists (but not listening)? You could use something social to allow me to advertise on top of your own advertising. How do I tell others I'm using Astiga?
I have some experiments lined up in this area. I'm open minded about how much it would be used; part of the selling point of Astiga is that it's privacy focused and that doesn't sound like a good fit with viral marketing... but that said, it would be opt-in so it could still fly.
Regarding FLAC, I personally feel that's a very basic thing to support. FLAC has become almost a de facto standard amongst some music collectors now.
I'm happy with the changes and already pay for Astiga. It's inexpensive compared to other apps and its utility for me is huge (I use it every day, multiple times). I have tried many of the apps doing the same thing and always ended up back at Astiga. I'm very happy to support the intentions, it's a positive step to see the intent to invest. Purely free online almost always fades away and it is fair to place a value on the application.
I've got a lot on my mind reading through this thread. Some parties here, I observe, are too preoccupied expressing dissatisfaction with how things have been developing to properly consider what would actually be good for Astiga's growth while having the userbase remain content (or reasonably content anyway).
First off, the people who talk about making the free trial 3+ months long with the reasoning of letting users get hooked / develop a habit are just unreasonable. This would only encourage freeloaders who just will not pay for Astiga in any case (or shall I say market-savvy users who know that there are free solutions to be found) to set up new accounts at the end of every trial period; setting up an account is a 5 minute task (I created 2 on a whim earlier, just to figure out some inner workings), no matter how low the price would be, it will not encourage free users to pay if the alternative is spending 5 minutes (temporary email services make that even quicker). The trial time is intended for showing a customer the benefits of the product, letting them know what the product is about basically, and for that purpose 7 days would be well enough in case of Astiga. Hell, 1 day is enough to figure out what Astiga is and what it isn't if you have your head on properly. Even a month, I believe, would be verging on too long because of the reasons I expressed earlier. If the goal is to make people who are able to subscribe actually subscribe, 7 days is a good term. But make it subscription-only with a 7-days trial, and you will be losing a significant part of your userbase, freeloaders or not they still assist in helping Astiga grow, be it through expressing interesting views and making the community aspect better (wink wink) or recommending Astiga to customers who could pay.
Coming off what might seem as the opposite end, I've just recently discovered Astiga and I think it's a wonderful service, but I truly don't think going subscription-only is going to do it many (or any) favors. As said above, there are too many free solutions out there; Astiga might be taking the top rank at the moment in terms of convenience but make it subscription-only and you will observe how its spot will be gradually taken by some other free, possibly open source solution. Well implemented freemium model was always a good way of preventing that from happening.
Inspired by words that were said in this thread and some personal consideration, here's my take: retain the subscription-free option. But, limit the free accounts to only one storage and implement a limit such that only the first 20Gb of said storage are being shown in Astiga. This will prevent free users from pushing server costs too far and help retain enough of a userbase that those who will leave (which I would consider unreasonable in this scenario) will not make a significant dent. Additionally, develop a model which will make the storage read stack up to, say, 50Gb, if a free user brings other users in through referrals, installs the app, tweets about Astiga, hits a certain number of posts on the forum, keeps using it for a year. You've seen this implemented on pcloud at an early stage to encourage growth and recognition, this model works beautifully for that purpose.
As a side note, I must express, the idea of a head of Astiga bearing illusions of it turning competitive with large-scale streaming services one day while the first time forum members such as myself have to spell out well established marketing tips that are proven in the field is making me concerned about Astiga. Perhaps the company's marketing department, one exists I'm assuming, should be upgraded or re-shuffled (or simply given some time of day). This is arguably the most crucial time in the company's development when equally small and big moves are extreme to its future.
what do you mean by "subscription free"? Are you distinguishing between gratis and paid, or are you instead distinguishing between auto recurring subscription and manual payments? This change does not affect the availability of manual payments should you want to do that.
Thank you for your other ideas, they are potential experiments we could try in the future.
This change has now gone live. From today, new signups will get a 7 day free trial. Existing non-premium members' free trials are extended to August 18th, 2022.
From my standpoint, and for what it's worth, switching to a paid plan would be an investment for an improved product. Many shortcomings have been expressed in the various posts and the major issue that I have noted is the battery drain when using the service on a mobile. To be honest, I only use Astiga very occasionally.
Do you have a development roadmap that you could share ?
As for the user base, I am under the impression that owning a personal collection is soooo old-fashioned that my take is as follows: the user base will erode to zero, within 20-30, as Alzheimer and/or death strikes us 😄😱💀
Thank you and good luck with your projects!
Thanks @d0m . It depends what you mean by roadmap. At a low level I'm reticent about any type of long term roadmap because the realities of life, business and code are that priorities change.
Broadly speaking, the focus of development of the service are laid out in the original message: continuing to focus on owned/self stored music collections and introducing better music library features, improved app UX and so on. Call it "your own private Spotify".
As for the user base, I am under the impression that owning a personal collection is soooo old-fashioned that my take is as follows: the user base will erode to zero, within 20-30, as Alzheimer and/or death strikes us.
I'm making a fairly clear bet here - that the userbase interested in owning a personal collection will not reduce to zero. I might be mistaken... but see my comment above about priorities.
I´m totally dissagree to that. My personal music collection grows daily. Also on phisical media. I´m completely disgree with Spotify and other streaming services. I like my music, the way I want to. Not the versions online... Some of my favorite CDs ever are not avaible on streamig services, or not on the versions I have.
If you are older than 40, then you do not have a choice but to agree. If you're less than 25 then I am happy to hear that and hopefully, to be wrong :)
Really? I think that comment is totally no sense. I´m over 40. Have vinils, cassettes, CDs.... I have choices. A lot. But I preffer my copies. Don´t wan to fight with a lot of regional restrictions, editors versions, discographies not awaible, and other stuff about music online. It´s a mess when you try to listen a record, and half the tracks are out of Spotify. Now let me guess, you´re so young and only listen to hits playlists on Spotify and others. Then you don´t have the same kind of needing to listen music. Streaming services are by far enough for you.
I think it's possible to make broad suggestions what most people will be doing that are over 40 or under 25. But it doesn't apply to everyone.
We aren't a VC backed company so we don't need to appeal to the mainstream, just enough of a market to build an audience that can support the service. And that market can be global.
When streaming began heating up in 2010ish I was worried about the effect on my other product - bliss. But the sales there haven't really faltered a great deal. I've targeted markets that are aligned with the purpose of the product.
(0)brings up a good point. There's not much stopping me from generating another account and just migrating all of my services over. You could implement some kind of verification, but, personally, I wouldn't even sign up for a trial if I had to provide a phone number or a credit card. Maybe check the account details of the storage services are added, and block new accounts from using them?
Hell, 1 day is enough to figure out what Astiga is and what it isn't if you have your head on properly.
It took a lot longer than 7 days to realize that I was running into issues with loading and streaming in Astiga. There are people earlier in this thread who had their massive library uploading and syncing take longer than a day or two. Then again, unless you use Astiga often, I don't think you'll see the shortcomings easily. And maybe that's OK! I think 7 days may be enough to experience the best of Astiga. Personally, If I didn't have an existing Astiga account, and I was looking at Astiga, the 7-day trial would probably make me skip it altogether. But after consideration, I think it would be tempting for other serious buyers. From @gravelld 's previous comment on my other comment, It seems like the way I use Astiga is not typical.
@rocketvole All systems have weaknesses.
My philosophy has always been that the most important thing is to make sure those that are honest enough to pay for the value they receive get that value with the least amount of friction.
Over time, I will be monitoring for common approaches to circumventing the free trial agreement and those that are most common will be blocked off.
There are people earlier in this thread who had their massive library uploading and syncing take longer than a day or two.
To an extent this could be considered a UX problem. Regardless of the overall size of the library and how long sync takes to finish, we should still be able to drip-feed the library into the UI so it can be used asap.
I have to disagree too. I got into CD collecting in my teens and am in my mid-twenties now (so I hope you're happy to read this :P) and my collection also still grows a lot (if anything more, as I have more income now that I'm out of university and work full time). I know multiple people my age who collect as well, and even know people my age who collect LPs and cassettes. Collecting physical music might be a niche, but it's not gone nor do I think it will anytime soon. It's just that, a niche. As far as catering to that niche goes, Astiga is one of the best, if not the best, options I found for making that collection into something easily daily usable on the flow. Keep the quality, keep the power to document as wished, and don't get attached to licensing deals by third parties, but gain the ease of streaming services. And that is, even with all the bugs and issues it still has. The thing is, even if it has those, there isn't much software catering to niches, let alone better ones. And overall Astiga works well and smoothly.
If anything, the current Kpop (Hallyu) wave seems to increase the number of young people collecting. Far from all will stay, but some will no doubt. When I worked in an electronic store it was noticeable that there were collectors, mainly in music genres that weren't pop. People who like metal, rock, or folk bought most. Kpop later got added to that list as well. Which is interesting. The more niche the music taste, the higher the chance to get into the niche hobby of collecting it seems (that is not to say no one collects pop music btw). I myself also got in from a metal point, although by now I listen to anything from underground black metal to K-, C- and Jpop.
Furthermore, Astiga is digital and online, and can cater worldwide if needed. So while perhaps right now the focus seems to be western users, let's not forget that East-Asia has a huge music industry and people collecting CDs is far more normal there still. Sure you'll have to fight with the people who stream just to up their favourite artist's numbers and who only buy CDs for the same reason. But at the same time, especially in Japan, the amount of people still using CDs is huge, and while streaming is getting traction it's far from breaking the physical release's market. A good CD-to-streaming platform might especially come in strong at such a time where people have mane CDs but are slowly getting into streaming. Over time, if after updates it can appease more to the needs of those users (mainly in language support and bug fixes I'd guess), it could gain a strong extra user-base that could make up for the loss in western interest. But then again, I doubt that loss is as big as you predict.
Just like many record stores in my country (here in EU) are still running strong and have no reason to worry about "less people collecting" right now despite catering to a niche, I can see Astiga do the same. Sure, there are differences. Not every CD collector wants to rip and stream their files, but on the other side Astiga doesn't have physical stores and can serve worldwide.
On the asti.ga homepage, the FAQ has a potentially misleading answer:
What does Astiga cost?
The base version of Astiga is totally free. If you want, you can choose for Astiga Premium, which costs €4 for a month, €12 for four months or €24 for twelve months.
as a new user this was a misleading advertisement.
A more accurate answer would be "The base version of Astiga is totally free for 7-days."
Thanks for flagging that, will change that today.
Edit: done that now.