Pricing changes for 2023

gravelldgravelld Administrator
edited June 7 in General

Last year I made the big change of limiting the free tier of Astiga to a time period. Following this, I've been reviewing pricing some more to see how things have changed and what we need to do next to get where-we-want-to-get-to.

TL;DR:

  • We're going to introduce plans in U.S. dollars (USD) and UK Sterling (GBP) and retain the Euros (EUR) subscription plans.
  • We're going to stop offering one-time purchases. We're going to go with subscriptions only. We're going to offer immediate cancellations with refunds issued pro rata and we will send charging reminders.
  • We're going to introduce a small nominal increase in cost.
  • The discount for annual subscriptions will be reduced.
  • Quarterly plans will be removed.
  • All of these will not be implemented yet; there will be a chance for existing customers to "lock in" existing prices for a year in a grace period.
  • The grace period will be two weeks. These changes will be implemented on Tuesday 7th February 2023 Thursday 9th February 2023 [we decided to push this back a few days].

As I've over-explained in the coming sections, I've tripped the Vanilla Forums maximum post size, so I'll split this into multiple posts. It might be easier for replying anyway...

Post edited by gravelld on
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Comments

  • gravelldgravelld Administrator

    The story so far...

    Last year we changed non-Premium Astiga accounts to be limited to 7 day trials. The aim was to increase the number of Astiga users who become Premium members, thereby increasing revenue and allowing us to invest back into the platform.

    The good news this has worked. Revenue is now over double what it was before. Last year we hired a contract developer to work on the platform and he hit the ground running. With his help we've managed to ship a bunch of improvements that I would not have been able to do on my own.

    But there's more we want to do. Currently we're running a slight loss to front-load the development work. Also, different skills may be needed in the future, so we may need to get another developer (I'm thinking about mobile app development here). Therefore I want to see revenue increasing further. We've got a bunch of exciting new developments we want to work on for the platform as a whole, and we can get these implemented much faster with extra development talent.

    In addition, we've been affected by an increase in costs as our cloud hosting providers have increased their costs. And it's not only the cloud hosting providers, it's also other services like accounting, technical support and more. These increases haven't been too bad, but there is a limit to what we can absorb.

    That's why we're making some further changes, one of which is an increase to the cost of Astiga. Below I'll describe each change, it's rationale and what the plan is for how this will all happen.

  • gravelldgravelld Administrator

    New currency support

    We're going to start offering Premium membership in U.S. dollars (USD) and UK Sterling (GBP) in addition to the existing EUR plans. We chose these currencies because they cover the vast majority of people who visit the website and try the service.

    There are two main reasons we've decided to support these extra currencies.

    The first is that by supporting a currency native and more familiar to our prospective users we hope to make it more likely that they will become Premium members. Having to think in a different currency is extra work that might dissuade some people from upgrading to Premium.

    The second is that by offering native currencies to all Premium users we offer more consistency in cost and more reassurance that the cost to you won't suddenly spike because of some exchange rate movements.

    Existing subscribers on the EUR plans are welcome to change their plan to a different currency; contact me via email and I can set that up for you (email below).

  • gravelldgravelld Administrator

    Subscriptions only from now on

    We're going to stop offering one-time purchases and only allow Astiga to be purchased on a rolling automatic subscription basis.

    I think this is the most contentious of these changes and I'm ready for the flak 😬 However, I've decided to experiment with this approach because the upside for the platform could be significant and we will attempt to reduce risk to customers as much as possible by offering no-hassle refunds and charging reminders.

    The reason we're trying this is to attempt to reduce the "churn" in the customer base. "Churn" is when a customer doesn't renew their subscription/plan. This is vastly higher amongst one-time customers than it is subscription customers. The revenue growth we have achieved has mostly been built on subscriptions because new subscribers get added to the existing user base over time. With one-offs people forget to pay, are on holiday, whatever, and each month it's like we're starting again from scratch.

    The fear is: won't this stop one-timers becoming customers at all? It may do. In fact, I know it will disappoint some people. But as I state below, I'll only know what effect this actually has if I try it. So that's why I'm trying it now.

    So, all new subscribers will only get the chance to start subscriptions. Existing customers can, during the grace period, ask me to refund their existing plan so they can start a new plan (e.g. a yearly one) on a one-off basis. However, once that plan is ended, a subscription will be the only option.

    I want to make it clear that a subscription can be ended at any time, with a full refund. I have no interest in taking money from people and delivering no value. If you sign up to an annual plan, say, and realise two weeks in that Astiga isn't for you I will issue a full refund pro rata of the proportion you have used of your subscription period.

    We will also start issuing payment reminders. Two days before you are charged we'll send you an email to remind you we will charge you. I think this is the most up-front way of doing subscriptions, and will lead to increased trust in Astiga and so hopefully further reduce that 'churn' I mentioned above.

  • gravelldgravelld Administrator

    Monthly price rises

    Alongside the introduction of new currencies, we're going to increase the cost of Astiga Premium to the following levels:

    • 3.99GBP / month (£)
    • 4.75EUR / month (€)
    • 4.99USD / month ($)

    Current customers can "lock in" the current pricing (and the current annual discount, see below) by purchasing a new annual plan and requesting I refund the old one pro rata (which, of course, I will do).

    As above, the motivation for this is to offset the increase in costs we've seen in the past six months or so.

  • gravelldgravelld Administrator

    Annual subscription discount will reduce

    Currently the annual plan for Astiga Premium costs €24, a discount of 50%. An overwhelming number of people opt for the annual plan, to the extent that I think we could be (plainly and honestly speaking) less generous and raise more revenue as a result.

    We're going to change this to a discount of 16%, i.e. two months free. So an annual plan will become:

    • 39.90GBP (£)
    • 47.50EUR (€)
    • 49.90USD ($)

    Current Premium users can lock in the current price during the grace period. Just sign up for a new plan and I'll refund the remainder of your old plan, pro rata.

    For Premium customers who are currently on an annual plan there is no further cost; you will just find that the price has increased when the period of the plan ends.

  • gravelldgravelld Administrator

    Removal of quarterly plans

    I've decided to remove the quarterly plans. Few people opt for them and they are just another impediment to making a decision when deciding to sign up to Premium.

  • gravelldgravelld Administrator

    Going forward

    As I said during the previous changes to pricing, nothing is permanent. If these changes see a revenue drop then I may undo them, or pursue a different course.

    Every customer is important to me. I've tried to offer workarounds to make sure existing customers are not inconvenienced and there's no possibility of their existing agreement being invalidated. Please, please do get in contact, either via the forums or email, or wherever. We don't have so many customers that I cannot consider each response personally and individually.

    Maybe there's something I've missed? I've tried to explain the rationale for the changes above but there's possibly things I haven't thought about. What I would say is, in my experience anyway, pricing is best done with experimentation, not pontification. What people say they will do and what they actually do are different. That's why I tend to err on the side of seeing this as an experiment; make a change and measure the effect. Then plan and adjust accordingly.

    If, by chance, you are reading this late and the grace period has ended, are a customer, and you want to take advantage of some of the "lock in" deals, just email us at info@asti.ga and we'll sort you out ;-)

    Thanks and, as ever, keep listening! 🎶

  • chvadchvad Member

    As you expected, it's the subscription thing that going to be a deal breaker for me. They just don't have any place in my life. I like Astiga and I'd like to continue being a customer but I'm afraid I cannot do that. I hope you'll reconsider.

  • buppibuppi Member

    It would be nice to see announcements like this paired with some kind of feature roadmap. We get that it costs money to make things, this is a business not a charity service etc etc, but other than some bug fixing and a UI update there hasn't been a lot of improvements to the platform since the push to get everyone paying a service fee. Now we're getting a rate hike with no specifics on platform improvements other than "we would like to do them but need money". That was the same promise as when we moved away from the free model.

    I imagine a lot of us are sticking with it in the hopes that we finally get some of the quality of life improvements and GPM feature parity we've hoped for over the past few years, but that blind faith can only last for so long.

  • CernunnosCernunnos Member
    edited January 24

    Ok. Understood.

    Actual plans are gonna be cancelled? I mean. My plan ends at 2023-12-16. It´s gonna be canceled before that date?

    Or just at that date I must get a new one with the new price?

  • Locking in the price during the grace period is for one year? Does this mean that we have to pay the new fees afterwards?

  • I don't understand anyone's resistance to a subscription as opposed to having to pay every month manually. As long as I receive reminders and the proportional rebate for cancellation works, where's the difference financially?

    Totally agree with buppi about the need for noticeable improvements. I did get my requested "mark as listened to" request for podcasts last year, but sadly only for the web app which I hardly ever use. And I'm still waiting for "mark to here as listened". Until then I'm on Google Podcast for podcasts. The android app needs some attention.

    I'm a little unclear on the lock-in thing. My renewal is due in August, so I assume I'll be charged 47,50€ then. But if someone else's renewal is in December they'll get 4 more months at the old price. Seems a bit unfair. Am I missing something?

    Gonna stick with you and hope for steady improvement. Maybe you can email release notes for new versions?

  • gravelldgravelld Administrator

    I'm permanently reconsidering in the sense that I'm always looking at the stats and trying to work out the best way to meet the revenue goals we have.

    If, as you imply, you decide to not renew your subscription I'd be disappointed, but that's your choice and I know it's inevitable there would be decisions taken like this.

  • gravelldgravelld Administrator

    Yes, I was wondering about this and conscious that I would like to make this clearer. One the one hand we could provide no information, but that would not be encouraging for people to sign up in the hope of future improvements. On the other we could provide every idea we have and when it's going to be implemented, but that would inevitably be changed, timelines would be missed, Google could pull support for xyz, an evil dictator takes over some company... you know the kind of thing. Choosing the sweet spot between these two is hard.

    Maybe I should list some broad aims I have in mind, without putting specific dates to them.

    In the next six months, I want to address a number of smaller bugs and feature requests that we have stored both in these forums and in our own database. These are what are mentioned in the feature request forums. In addition, there's more work I want to do on the UX refresh, mainly to the navigation and page flow, making music libraries more front-and-centre.

    Also during that time, and in the following six months to a year, I want to begin the process of integrating all three services we run. By combining Astiga with the smarts of bliss and the database of OneMusicAPI I'm hoping to provide an optional, supercharged experience, regardless of the state of their libraries. This wouldn't be about changing your library, more providing extra information over and above what your library already consists of. This will hopefully give a much more immersive experience.

    Over a similar time period I want to completely refresh our approach to mobile. The app is really not a great experience, in my opinion, and it could be made so much better.

    So that's a broad overview - I don't think I could or should commit to dates for specific features, simply because the future is not knowable...

  • gravelldgravelld Administrator

    Your plan will continue until the current expiry date. At that point, you would need the new plan with the new price.

  • gravelldgravelld Administrator

    @el_foz

    I'm a little unclear on the lock-in thing. My renewal is due in August, so I assume I'll be charged 47,50€ then. But if someone else's renewal is in December they'll get 4 more months at the old price. Seems a bit unfair. Am I missing something?

    The "lock-in" means you can purchase a new yearly plan now (or before the change) and I'll refund you the difference for what you haven't used from your current plan (i.e. the time up to August, so that would be a bit over half a year and so a bit over €24/2 = €12).

  • FredFred Member
    edited January 24

    When I read the announcement, I said to myself ok it's going to increase by 1 or 2 euros or even 5 for the annual subscription it's normal given the situation and there what a surprise!!!!!

    The double!!!

    While the host increases its rates, accounting etc... the costs increase so double?

    You should change providers then because I'm sure you can find some that are cheaper.

    Moreover, what is the benefit for the users apart from a useless aesthetic gumming for my part because I pass by a third application - increase of the double unjustified for me…

    I am not going to call into question your capacities of business man but I find that you do not call enough upon your customers to have their opinions.

    Yet customer loyalty and trust in the brand is the lifeblood of the business.

    I have the impression that you are raising the price by saying to yourself that I will lose a lot of customers but this will be compensated by a reduction in the costs of using the server because fewer users but paying double I still earn more and I pass this on because of the crisis!

    If I am led to believe that, it is because your communication is perhaps bad.

    You present yourself as a fervent defender of open source so be transparent and why don’t you give us the figures of increase of your providers?

    Last point, a sentence that shocked me: if too many users leave the service and revenues go down then I'll review my offer - this is not Elon's Twitter, what an image this gives, your customers will leave and you think they'll come back - in short, no consideration - I think most people here are music lovers and your communication is violent and lacks consideration.

    We are not in the spirit of I offer a service to earn a living while meeting a people's need with kindness.

    In short, I find it average and very disappointed I understand that the service must earn money I went from free to a paying user because I believe that the service was good at the right price but the I feel no consideration of customers so at the end of the subscription tchao sadly I mount my server on a host and at least I will have some consideration by myself!

    Sorry for my fervour but I am very disappointed by this announcement and how this service that I love is evolving!

  • buppibuppi Member

    In the next six months, I want to address a number of smaller bugs and feature requests that we have stored both in these forums and in our own database. These are what are mentioned in the feature request forums. In addition, there's more work I want to do on the UX refresh, mainly to the navigation and page flow, making music libraries more front-and-centre.

    Also during that time, and in the following six months to a year, I want to begin the process of integrating all three services we run. By combining Astiga with the smarts of bliss and the database of OneMusicAPI I'm hoping to provide an optional, supercharged experience, regardless of the state of their libraries. This wouldn't be about changing your library, more providing extra information over and above what your library already consists of. This will hopefully give a much more immersive experience.

    Really looking forward to seeing some of those feature requests fulfilled. I don't think I've seen more than a small handful completed since joining in 2020. As a legacy user of Astiga, the cross-platform integration (I’m assuming at an additional charge) has little to no appeal to me, so it’s discouraging to see this as a focus of the scope precipitating these rate hikes, but thanks for the broad look into what you’re hoping to do in the coming year. I will remain cautiously optimistic that useful improvements are to come.

  • buppibuppi Member

    @gravelld are you going to be reviewing new annual subscriptions and sending pro rata refunds accordingly or do we need to email you to explicitly ask for the refund?

  • gravelldgravelld Administrator

    @buppi please send me an email, it's not linked up for automated refunds right now.

  • gravelldgravelld Administrator

    @Fred Sorry you feel that way...

    I am seeing the price rise and reduction in yearly discount as separate items, so I suppose it does hit yearly subscribers harder. I'm sorry for that, but the individual decisions still hold in my opinion.

    if too many users leave the service and revenues go down then I'll review my offer

    I think I'm just being honest - I think it's healthy for a business to reconsider its pricing on an ongoing basis.

    I'd be sorry if we lost you as a Premium member.

  • gravelldgravelld Administrator

    Really looking forward to seeing some of those feature requests fulfilled. I don't think I've seen more than a small handful completed since joining in 2020. As a legacy user of Astiga, the cross-platform integration (I’m assuming at an additional charge) has little to no appeal to me, so it’s discouraging to see this as a focus of the scope precipitating these rate hikes, but thanks for the broad look into what you’re hoping to do in the coming year. I will remain cautiously optimistic that useful improvements are to come.

    Thanks for that feedback @buppi . I realise different people will have different focuses, and hopefully we can deliver for the different use cases. Feel free to shoot me an email about the specific issues you want to see implemented (you mentioned GPM parity?)

  • It's nice to see rough timelines and ideas like this! I, and others, often add requests on this site and get a positive response but it can take months before we see it implemented if ever so far. Sometimes it's hard to know if it's gorgotten or still on the planning. Getting a rough idea is quite nice.

    As someone who works as a software engineer/sysadmim/every other IT task in a more complex part of the IT field yet with a small team, I quite know the feeling of having a huge backlog and barely getting stuff done visibly due to daily work and back-end "no end users sees this" things.

  • CambionnCambionn Member
    edited January 25

    Because of this, I'm quite willing to change to the new pricing now instead of lock in the old one! I also want to note that your openness and responsiveness to issues and requests is also part of why I'm willing to this. Even now, you're here posting a total breakdown and reacting to everyone. Much unlike big companies who simply send a mail with "this is the new price, deal with it or cancel your subscription". I agree we haven't séén that much in the past time, but like I said I also know the struggle of having a small team with much to do and keep running as well as back-end changes no one sees and therefore not appreciate. But you have earned some trust with me in the past time, and this is a service I want to see growing.

    Removing some rambling as it's a bit of topic, I'm not even allowed to post in a single comment. Point being, I appreciate the work, and hope to see more of it. I'm glad revenue improved, and as you said: what people say and what they do differs a lot, so I'm glad you monitor the doing. Hope Astiga grows only more, and that one day, I may end up an early adopter of a big service 🙂.

    Post edited by Cambionn on
  • So given you also wrote above "Your plan will continue until the current expiry date. At that point, you would need the new plan with the new price." it sounds like I have two options:

    1. Renew next month at the locked in price of 24€ and get a 12€ rebate for my unused 6 months of the previous subscription.

    2. Do nothing next month, wait until August and then renew at the new price of 47,50€.

    Or?

  • My current subscription runs out on August 31. Over the past year, I barely used Astiga. I even renewed just to support the service knowing that I wouldn't be using it for quiet a while since my huge library was not organized well enough to sync to Astiga. I primarily use CloudPlayer and pCloud's own music player when I play my somewhat disorganized library.

    For reference, where I live, Spotify family is $5/month, Deezer family is $8/month and Apple music family is $7.5/month. The latter allows each user to upload 100,000 files to their library. Office 365 family is also just a bit over $80 a year. You can see why Astiga's $50/year would be terrible value for me. Paying $50 per year for a service the lets me stream my own music from my own cloud is too much. I know it's unfair to compare a small, niche service to services run by multibillion dollar corporations. The truth is that at the end of the day, to my pocket fifty bucks is fifty bucks.

    I would cost Astiga money when I sync (which I last did maybe more than a year ago) and when I play music. The latter shouldn't cost Astiga anything. I always wondered why Astiga would download the music from the cloud to its servers, then sends them my way. It makes no sense. Other cloud players stream directly from the cloud and in my experience, playing from CloudPlayer/OneDrive was faster than from Astiga although I think now they are similar in speed.

    I remember Koen said that this would allow Astiga to make sure the file grabbed is a playable music track not some other file format, like a pdf. I thought the original sync would do that, only indexing the supported files. Astiga acting like a middle man makes no sense to me.

    If there's an option to stream directly through the cloud for the same price I'm paying now, I would happily continue using Astiga, even if some other limitations are imposed, like limited sync numbers per set period of time. Otherwise, I will let this subscription run its course and I won't be renewing. Sorry.

  • gravelldgravelld Administrator

    @Cambionn Thanks.

    Another word on the roadmap. It comes down to priorities of course as to what gets scheduled first. I have been prioritising work to raise revenue before - that's why we've done a lot of work on the UI refresh, onboarding guides (for first time users), emails and stuff like that. These are things that help raise the "conversion rate" i.e the number of people who become paying users.

    I'm very conscious that this inevitably means work for existing users gets sidelined, but this is where I want to begin pointing us in the short/medium term.

  • gravelldgravelld Administrator

    @el_foz

    1. Renew next month at the locked in price of 24€ and get a 12€ rebate for my unused 6 months of the previous subscription.

    2. Do nothing next month, wait until August and then renew at the new price of 47,50€.

    Yep, those are your options...

  • gravelldgravelld Administrator

    @Agista Thanks for your feedback. If you're not using Astiga then, frankly, we don't deserve any amount of money from you, so I'm prepared to run a full refund for you right now if that's what you want?

    I would cost Astiga money when I sync (which I last did maybe more than a year ago) and when I play music. The latter shouldn't cost Astiga anything. I always wondered why Astiga would download the music from the cloud to its servers, then sends them my way. It makes no sense. Other cloud players stream directly from the cloud and in my experience, playing from CloudPlayer/OneDrive was faster than from Astiga although I think now they are similar in speed.

    I remember Koen said that this would allow Astiga to make sure the file grabbed is a playable music track not some other file format, like a pdf. I thought the original sync would do that, only indexing the supported files. Astiga acting like a middle man makes no sense to me.

    There are other reasons, mainly around playback. Certain devices don't support certain codecs, so Astiga performs lossless transcoding for these cases. There are a few other library things, e.g. play counts for your popular tracks, and furnishing with additional metadata like covers and so on.

    But I appreciate just playing directly from storage is a valid use case. Thing is, it's really not that complicated and would be the one thing worthy of a freemium tier - that's why I've made https://asti.ga/dropbox-music-player available for free.

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