We have a very specific goal - become the best place to stream new, independent music.
Think of us as the "Bandcamp for streaming".
We will achieve this goal by simultaneously appealing to both sides of the music market: artists and independent labels who are underserved by existing services and the superfans who love them.
As those concepts are already explained elsewhere, we'll shift to focusing directly on the plan for growth starting with an examination of both sides of the market.
We start with a basic premise: no other streaming service is adequately serving the needs of artists and independent labels.
Summer 2017 saw a major shakeup with the news of 40% layoffs at SoundCloud, later followed by an announcement that a new CEO would take over management of the struggling platform.
While panic rippled through the independent music world, it led to asking major questions about the streaming market itself. If SoundCloud disappears (figuratively or literally) then who will serve the needs of independent artists?
Spotify, AppleMusic... Amazon?
Gleaning insights from the ever brilliant analyst Bas Grasmeyer, we can see Spotify is in the late majority stage of their growth.
Translating the startup world terminology, what this means is that Spotify has removed many core features and functionality that appealed to early adopters and innovators.
This is important because early music app adopters match up precisely with our primary audience, as we'll discover later on.
By combining this understanding with Liz Pelly's fascinating expose about major label dominance in playlists, something becomes clear - Spotify is a service with mostly mass market appeal.
Of course, as they're co-owned by the major labels, the company is automatically incentivized to promote those catalogs above all else. Merlin may have recently negotiated an "equitable" deal on behalf of independent labels, but the core of the service is not targeting either the creators or consumers of this market segment.
In case you think we forgot Bandcamp, we haven't. We love them, but they aren't a streaming service and don't have plans for such.
Conclusion: given recent shakeups with SoundCloud and the fact that the other big streamers are designed for mass market appeal, it should be clear that no one is adequately addressing the specific needs and concerns of independent artists and their fans.
Next, we'll look at the listener side of the market.
As we see in the infographic above, Resonate has the potential of reaching sustainability by appealing to a specific market segment - music superfans.
Nielsen Research identified these fans as:
"...the top-tier connoisseurs of music. They love music from a variety of genres and periods. They tend to like independent music, and they're always listening and discovering."
This description perfectly summarizes our existing community of early adopters. For the last six months they have been streaming thousands of high-quality tracks in our #stream2own beta app, from independent artists all over the globe.
As described in the artist + label section above, uncertainty over SoundCloud's future as well as the transition of services like Spotify to the late majority stage of their growth, Resonate stands poised to satisfy an underserved segment of the streaming market.
Conclusion: by continuing to grow our catalog and by integrating new features that make listening and discovering appealing to superfans, we have a definitive focus for who we're reaching with this service.
Now that we've seen how Resonate appeals to both sides of the market, we can begin to explore our plans for growth, covering four key areas:
Beyond the somewhat obvious scope as a SoundCloud alternative for fully independent artists, we have a specific plan to grow the Resonate catalog, focusing directly on independent labels.
This represents a significant source of material, as independent labels have a global market share of 37.6%.
As of this moment, 344 independent labels have signed up. Working with key tastemakers like Ropeadope and TopShelf has led to significant insight into the needs of the independent sector, all of which has been fed back into our overall strategies.
The expansion plan is fairly simple: continue nurturing direct relationships with key labels in the independent community. Then when we're ready to start scaling in early 2018, Resonate will join label associations such as VUT, AIM and A2IM, creating direct access to their thousands of label members.
In parallel we plan to collaborate with specific distributors in the independent space, giving rise to the possibility of significantly boosting the total number of songs available in the catalog for our listener members. Within a few years, this strategy will directly lead to engaging with the Merlin Network to close any remaining gaps.
But it's not all about independent labels.
Beyond our core #stream2own app, we're also working on numerous tools that are designed to help grow the careers of unsigned artists. As we continue releasing these new features in 2018, our goal is to make the service so enticing that artists will be naturally incentivized to use Resonate as their primary promotion tool.
Takeaways: fostering our close relationships with specific tastemaker labels should act as a domino effect with other labels, leading us towards the goal of collaborating with associations and distributors to secure the whole independent sector.
Simultaneously, we'll begin offering new services for unsigned artists to help accelerate their careers.
As the catalog expands, so too does our userbase, because the primary point of listener outreach for the service will always be the artists in our community.
Obviously we also have a need to grow the listener base directly.
Those strategies are centered around propagating embeddable players for blogs and curators, integrating with other startups and services, while expanding features and functionalities to help artists and fans connect.
Other key areas for growth will occur through partnerships with a diverse range of international cooperatives and social justice initiatives, wherever the member bases and issues driving those communities intersect.
Main takeaway: An understanding that our artist-centric philosophy is the main driver of all strategies and tactics towards expanding the service. If we can build the tools and features artists need to succeed, then our success follows.
Articles detailing these strategies:
Now we'll explore the application of new technologies within Resonate and the opportunities they present.
Here's a little known fact - you wouldn't be reading this page if not for the launch of a blockchain project named Ethereum, as the advent of their platform for Web 3.0 infrastructure was the direct inspiration for this project. Quoting Resonate founder Peter Harris:
"The movement around decentralized technologies was the direct impetus for starting Resonate. Here was finally the possibility that we could embed democracy and justice into the very code that runs our systems. Potentially creating a solution to all of the problems with digital music distribution and corporate platforms we've seen over the last 20 years."
Considering both the complex scope of these technologies and that the needs of our artists extends far beyond our modest streaming service, it became clear early on that the best approach would be to collaborate on building a more comprehensive infrastructure.
Numerous discussions with established hardware/software manufacturers, industry associations and record labels are occuring thanks to the unique opportunities blockchain technology presents.
All of these initiatives will help in our expansion efforts to reach the artists, partners and communities necessary to accomplish this ambitious transformation of the industry.
Stay tuned for future announcements! There are some significant initiatives developing behind the scenes, and we look forward to announcing them soon.
We've examined how blockchain technology could impact the music business in the following posts. Just keep in mind that these concepts represent the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is possible.
Everything is changing all over again.
The music industry is on fire once more, celebrating the rise of streaming in the last ten years, which has led to the first uptick in profits in decades.
Digital Music News created this great infographic which demonstrates the shift of revenues from CDs to streaming:
But as we look at this major transition, we have to ask a profound question. If no one really saw streaming coming, then what unknown medium comes next?
We think the answer lies in technologies like blockchain which aim to decentralize many of the processes surrounding media distribution, consumption and even creation itself. It must be said:
While we're very open about the majority of our plans and mission, our vision for the intersection of music and blockchain must remain hidden for now. There are simply too many watching who would be willing to repurpose those plans for their own personal benefit, and not the people who truly deserve them.
This is the new frontier we're adventuring into.
Happy to have you on this journey with us!