Pay per play music streaming – an idea whose time has come?

psonar.jpgSo no one yet seems to have properly solved the streaming music riddle. Apple’s iTunes Radio seems like little more than a clever idea to get users buying more downloads. While Spotify can’t quite seem to make its mind up as to whether it should be subscription only or an ad-supported free streaming service.

And for the musicians themselves, especially the smaller indie type ones, the payments from Spotify are so miniscule that they are generally better off using services like Bandcamp and Soundcloud.

And at the same time record companies seem to be turning a blind eye to users who upload whole albums to YouTube.

There is however one British based music streaming service that has come up with a solution of sorts and that is Psonar.

Psonar is a cloud based streaming service which in many ways is quite similar to Spotify. It does however have a unique (for now) payment mechanism with users paying 1p for every track they listen to. This of course puts the listener in control of their budget. You would have to listen to at least fifty albums a month before you even got near Spotify’s base level sub rate of £5.

There are some nice touches too in that the company gives you free credits and users can also gift music to others too.

The service is available via a web app that works on just about every platform going too.

It appears that Psonar could be good news too for smaller artists. The company has this on its blog

For artists and labels, Psonar Pay-Per-Play has a single, straightforward tariff that’s the same for all distributors or labels, as well as clear and transparent accounting where every stream is monetized apart from promotional activity. Psonar offers labels the tools to build highly social, viral promotion campaigns that don’t involve unlimited free access to music and which can be fine-tuned to generate revenue or promote viral spread (or both) as the label judges best. Since all monetization is per track streamed, everyone with an economic interest in the music earns their share of the revenue generated.

The problem that Psonar has for now is that has only 600,000 tracks on its books. It maybe more as this was a figure from last year. Compare that with Spotify which has in the region of 20 million. So it is a chicken and egg situation. The site needs to scale quickly to make it successful.

Its other problem is that Spotify could ape its business model by offering pay per play on its service.

Nevertheless I have been pretty impressed with Psonar and think that the pay per play business model is an ideas whose time may have come.

What do you think?

Ashley Norris


  • Really? I don't want to have to think about money every single time I play something. There are plenty of free music streaming services out there, I use Torch Music and I love it, I can create playlists and see what my friends are listening to and I don't have to pay a thing.

  • Thanks for the encouraging review on Psonar, Ashley. Just to update your excellent summary, we now have 1M tracks in Psonar with a further 400K coming next month following our first major label deal. We're also adding a native Android app next month to the existing iOS app and a BlackBerry 10 native app in September. So exciting times ahead!

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