The planned business model for Ambisonia is essentially known as the ‘freemium’ model. It is one of the most successful business models practised on the Internet.
The basic services are free … and then a percentage of the audience, often around 0.6% of all active accounts pay for extra premium services.
This is how Flickr works, they charge $2/month (on a yearly basis) for unlimited disk space. Last.fm has premium accounts for 2.50euros/month (extra features). NicoVideo.jp charge $5/month (extra features). More business oriented software, like 37signals.com charge from around $30 – $150 per month.
I’m aiming for $5/month…. ok … but what do you get in the Ambisonia Premium accounts?
Well … that’s the tricky bit.
I’ve made the mistake, you could say, of offering everything for free on Ambisonia. Disk space is free, downloads are free (note: the cost of bandwidth is essentially absorbed by the generous torrent mirrors). RSS feeds are free, everything is free.
My initial non-business oriented idealistic impressions of the state of things sold me the notion that ‘some way of making money would come up’. It hasn’t. It just doesn’t work that way. And not just for me but for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of web sites out there. Making money from websites is difficult.
So I’ve been busting my gut trying to come up with the ‘extra’ services that I can offer that would be worth $5/month. I havn’t come up with any glaringly clear ideas. If you have an idea … please throw it at me.
At first I thought that it would be a strategic mistake to ‘remove’ existing functionality from the site … then try and sell it back. I’ve had to take a step backand have a look at how I would model the site had it never been released. There is a very simple model that (I believe) would work.
All files would be streamed for free, directly from the web browser in both 4ch AAC (for people with 5.1 on their computers) and 4ch AC3 (for people with optical connections to the AV receivers). For $5/month, you can download everything in all formats. The advantage of this model is that newcomers will always have full access to listening to the content. Those who dont want to subscribe, will always have full access to listening to content. So there is no real restriction or hindrance for the site to welcome newcomers to ambisonics.
But if you want the added benefit of having the content stored locally, or having access to the full B-Format files to decode to your own array, then you need to subscribe.
I’ve decided this is the model I’m running with. But I’m still very very open to other ideas.
Lastly… but very importantly, if people are going to be paying $5/month they will be expecting professional service levels on the website. The website has to be responsive, it has to be rarely (if ever) down, it has to be consistent in its communication and message. The website has to be able to support 150,000 visits per month! The design has to be slick etc. I have been working on all this for months (almost years) … and I am making headway. The next post will detail the upcoming Ambisonia enterprise grade ‘scalable’ architecture.