STREAM TO OWN, WITH VOLTRA
While the music consumption and distribution model has changed significantly over the last half-decade, one thing that has not changed is the ridiculously little revenue the artists themselves are receiving from streaming platforms.
Many figures are quoted depending on where you look for data and none can be considered 'official' or even accurate, but when considered as fractions of cents, in local currency an artist needs to be streamed at least 100 times and as many as 660 times depending on the streaming platform, just to earn $1.
Of course, it's little wonder that streaming platforms are pushing 'cloud-based' music that technically you'll never own, labels have been left with no choice other than to adopt a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" attitude.
No one can deny that music-streaming has been embraced by the majority with some platforms now boasting over 100 million users, but from a HiFi enthusiast or audiophile standpoint it's taken lossless or 'hi-res' formats to start winning this segment of the market over, even if reluctantly.
Maybe joining the party a little late, but start-up streaming platforms are emerging every day around the globe. While each has their own modus operandi, one directive shared seems to be the want to give back more to the musicians and artists (and labels); a bigger slice of the pie.
Voltra, the latest start-up platform promises a new model. One with a difference, in that consumers 'stream-to-own'. Founded by Paolo Fragemeni and Aprile Elcich and NYC based, their platform in in beta right now with a capacity of 5,000 users and 3 million tracks. Aiming to open to the public in May this year, plans are in place for 10 millions tracks at launch.
Their difference? They're pitching to artists to sign up directly who will in turn, receive 100% of the generated revenue from users.
Unlike traditional online music stores where users can preview a song and then purchase to download, Voltra's founders believe that this approach is flawed.
Fragomeni told The Verge:
Perhaps the best guitar solo will come after a minute and I will never experience it because I could only hear 30 seconds of the song.
With Voltra, users can sign up for free and stream a track once at no charge. Each additional play incurs a small fee which is as yet, undisclosed. Once you've listened to the same track more than 10 times, you own it and can either archive it to your cloud storage or download it.
The platform exists right now only as a desktop app, however the founders have said that by launch it will be available for PC, Mac, iOs and Android devices.
How do Voltra make money if they're giving 100% of the revenue back to the artists? Voltra offers a $10 USD Premium membership tier that includes 128Gb of cloud storage, long term music archiving, offline syncing and more features.
Similarly, artists and labels can also upgrade to Voltra Pro from $5 USD which includes stats, advanced payout options, reporting and dedicated artist pages hosted within the platform. Evidently Voltra's model depends upon users and artists opting to go Premium.
What's not documented is the streaming file format and resolution, nor whether there will be any support for hi-res or MQA. They do however say they support MP3, MP4, AAC, OGG, FLAC, ALAC, WAV.
There's no doubt Voltra still has a long way to go and they're coming into a market already dominated by the giants in Spotify and Tidal. We'll watch this one with interest.
For more information visit Voltra.
StereoNET's Founder & Publisher and still buried deep in the review room auditioning everything from docks to soundbars, amplifiers and headphones. Marc is also the founder of the annual International HiFi Show.
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