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Old 03-07-2015, 00:33 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Darth Raver Darth Raver is offline 03-07-2015, 00:33 AM

Greetings, loyal MP3U users!

Finally, I got around to posting a thread many of you have probably been eagerly waiting for, as it relates directly to your investment in the website.

First off, without going round in circles before getting to the point, mp3unsigned.com is in no immediate danger of collapse, thanks to you guys.

Here are the stats, going by country:

Canada: $150 (2 members, average $75 per person)
USA: $210 (4 members, average $52.50 per person)
UK: $505 (7 members, average $72.14 per person)

This comes to a grand total of $865 which should easily cover hosting payments for the next three months (unless there are are anomalous spikes in bandwidth in the meantime) meaning we are in the clear and won't reach red alert zone again until mid-November! This leaves plenty of time to figure out better ways of sustaining the site.

I am overwhelmed by the response - I was terrified that the reaction might be "Pay for a free site? Are you mad?" but you have all proved me wrong and restored my faith in the human species. I'm almost tearing up as I type... You guys are the reason I just couldn't pull the plug, because I always knew you loved the site just as much as I do, if not more so. And you proved me right!

Before I crack my silly Sith helmet with these saline optic emissions, let's get back to business:

There has been talk of complete "transparency" concerning donations, and I can understand 100% why people would want it. I would too, if I was investing money in a website on the verge of collapse (oh wait - didn't I do that about a month ago? ... never mind )

The problem is, some people choose the banner option (which shows clearly how much they pledged, going by the banner size, since all banner sizes have set prices) but some chose the anonymous donation option. The original plan was to have the banner option only, but after some thought we realised that fans of the site who aren't registered as artists might wish to contribute toward saving MP3U, so the 'donate only' option was also necessary. What we didn't anticipate, is that many artists would chose to donate and explicitly and tell us they want to do so anonymously.

Because of this unexpected situation, complete transparency regarding incoming funds is impossible. To do so without their consent would be a violation of their desired privacy. However, I have sent several e-mails to anonymous donors asking if they would reconsider mailing me a banner or banners (matching what they paid) to put them on the Hall of Fame.

Some artists have privately told me they don't wish to be "blowing their own trumpet" and that they would choose the banner option if everyone else did. Therein lies the problem, I think. You guys are too generous and too humble for your own good! If it's transparency about how much has been donated is desirable, then the banner route is the best way of doing it.

The way most websites work when it comes to banners is, you choose a banner size at a certain price which is for a certain duration. The advertiser chooses the size they want, how long they want it to run, and pay in advance. Once the deadline has been reached, unless a fresh payment comes in, the banner is history. Our idea is to do away with time limitations and allow every paid banner to remain on the Hall of Fame permanently.

Despite the impressive amount of money we have raised so far, the Hall of Fame kinda looks like this so far.

Rather than thinking a banner is a way of blowing your own trumpet, it might be better to think of it as inspiration to other artists to do likewise, and help save the site in the long term. Dave's inspiration for the Hall of Fame was the "million dollar homepage" which was launched in 2005, consisting of a 1000 x 1000 pixel grid, where advertisers could buy a pixel for one dollar (or a block of pixels to their liking at a dollar per pixel rate) which links to their own page.

Although it isn't very pretty to look at, it incredibly still exists for all to see, and incredibly reached its million dollar goal in 2006 (one year after launch!) due to it going viral as such a unique idea and everyone wanting to be a part of the phenomenon.

If a similar thing happened with mp3unsigned members and the Hall of Fame, we'd be financially in the clear in no time.

"To banner or not to banner..."

It's up to you guys.
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Old 03-07-2015, 01:00 AM

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Raver View Post

Canada: $150 (2 members, average $75 per person)
USA: $210 (4 members, average $52.50 per person)
UK: $505 (7 members, average $72.14 per person)

This comes to a grand total of $865 which should easily cover hosting payments for the next three months (unless there are are anomalous spikes in bandwidth in the meantime) meaning we are in the clear and won't reach red alert zone again until mid-November! This leaves plenty of time to figure out better ways of sustaining the site.
That's great but, next on the to-do list is, figure out ways to make the donations required to keep the basic site up and running a bit less so this is back to you oh Darkest of lords so tip out the salty wet stuff from your helmet and give it some thought. What is the breakdown of the basic running costs and will deleting a pile of crap songs help? (I'm sure there may be other ideas too but I'm having a birthday drink and I become more direct with the intake of alcohol). I'll be OK tomorrow possibly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Raver View Post
Although it isn't very pretty to look at, it incredibly still exists for all to see, and incredibly reached its million dollar goal in 2006 (one year after launch!) due to it going viral as such a unique idea and everyone wanting to be a part of the phenomenon.

If a similar thing happened with mp3unsigned members and the Hall of Fame, we'd be financially in the clear in no time.
Sounds like a get rich quick scheme for me so I'm not interested in banners on some obscure page in some dusty corner of the internet. Sorry but I just don't get the banner thing or what it achieves or how it might achieve it. Did I say that I'd had a drink or two?

Seriously, just concentrate on fixing the site to be stable then let's concentrate on fixing the site anomalies. Then maybe try promoting it in some way that gets more new blood in then take it from there.

Andy
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Old 03-07-2015, 02:13 AM
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It is good news that the immediate demise was staved off. That is a positive!

Now, the donation figures are a concern. Is it that few are around in the summer? Does it take time for this to trickle down to the marginal adherents? Or, is it, as I am inclined to think, that mp3u really has so few active members (willing to help out the site and do what it takes to keep this mp3u rolling into the future). 7 from the UK, 2 from Canada, 4 from the US...a site of 50k listed artists...and this is it??

Amadeus... got a Plan A to keep it all rolling? If so, what is it?
Liquid mentioned a Plan B. Human nature being what it is, I'm not sure that, without a convenient hub such as mp3u, we will all keep in touch. even if linked to FB.

Wave the flag and rally the troops, sooner than later, in my opinion, and banners, while intended for transparency, seems to be a non -essential side bar discussion.

What is needed in the long term? How much will it cost us to save mp3u on an on-going basis (all 13 of us...so far...

If I disappear for the summer, will there be an mp3u in the fall?

Just wondering...and raising a Moosehead for Andy! Happy Birthday!

On the more positive side....noticed more comments on the site today...that warms my heart
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Old 03-07-2015, 03:14 AM

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Seems only a thousandaire could save us now.
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Old 03-07-2015, 06:55 AM

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On the other thread I made a guestimate about their being around 14 active members. It's alarming to see how close to reality I was - I was one out.

Which is why creating a new community is more important than ever.

It's great news that immediate demise has been postponed, but without some kind of long-term strategic plan that's not going to be enough.

And really... that's the only topic of true relevance, and the one thing we need to be discussing above all others.
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Old 03-07-2015, 21:14 PM

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James / Andy!

Happy Birthday Sir! You are one of the stalwarts of the community, one of the true vanguard of MP3U regular members who stepped up to the plate, put your money where your mouth is and made a truly generous donation to the site, which hasn't been surpassed and has only been equalled by two other members so far. I cannot thank you enough!

I realise you may be birthday tipsy, and I understand completely, but I am only being honest when I say you lost me with this line: "That's great but, next on the to-do list is, figure out ways to make the donations required to keep the basic site up and running a bit less so this is back to you oh Darkest of lords so tip out the salty wet stuff from your helmet and give it some thought."

I even ran it through google translate (as "unknown dialect" to "Queen's English") and got an error message... :P

Seriously though, your following sentence was crystal clear: "What is the breakdown of the basic running costs and will deleting a pile of crap songs help?"

Short answer, unfortunately, is no. Basic running cost for a site the size of mp3u on a cloud server such as Rackspace is $250 dollars, minimum. With that deal there is no limit for number of artists, or how many tracks they choose to upload. Unlimited storage is included in that package deal. This is the entry level cloud hosting package for anything close to the size of mp3u. The hosting fee will never go below $250 unless we switch to another server (something we are, and have been, seriously considering for quite some time). The hosting fee may however exceed $250 if the bandwidth use, in terms of uploading and downloading of songs, suddenly spikes. After Dave took over the site from Stu and relaunched the new version this is exactly what happened - hosting fees hit around $400 for a few months.

Regarding the figure of 50,000 members (some users have asked "where are they?") I want to be clear so there is no misunderstanding. Dave has often said in pitches to investors and so on that there have been over 50,000 registered artists on the site. This is absolutely true, but it doesn't mean there are 50,000 active now. I was unaware of this until chatting with him about an hour ago, but a friend of ours who helps out with technical issues voluntarily (known as TechieSirc here, real name is Cris), actually did an MP3U cull a few years ago, to get rid of all artist accounts which contained no music whatsoever, as fake accounts looked very bad to prying investor eyes. This deleted artists who had deleted their tracks but didn't know how to delete their page, fake alias artist accounts created by people so they could vote for their own songs (before we amended the code so that only one vote for a track can be counted from the same IP address, regardless of whether they come from different logged in artists or not), and the accursed spam artist accounts. He brought the current tally down to about 37,000 artists.

However, this cull did not affect the monthly hosting fee in any way.

But 37,000 artists is still a lot, and if everyone paid a measly dollar a year subscription it would be enough to keep us afloat for a long time. Since introducing subscription fees is a technical rehaul that would involve an investment of several thousand dollars we don't have, in order to try to make several thousand dollars, is akin to shooting oneself in the foot or hanging oneself from a short rope...

Hence, again, the banner idea. If every artist, or even a tenth of them, paid for the cheapest banner we'd be in the clear to pay for full mobile functionality and a cross-platform player/downloader.

James Oakwood also said "Sounds like a get rich quick scheme for me so I'm not interested in banners on some obscure page in some dusty corner of the internet". I'm not entirely sure if he was referring to the mp3u Hall of Fame idea or the original million dollar homepage... If it was referring to the million dollar page then yes, it WAS a get quick rich scheme and it worked. But there was no scam - anyone who participated did so because they wanted to. The idea went viral and it became a badge of honour in the online geek community. "Have you heard about that page?" "Have I ever! I'm on it, dude. Check out my link!". That's how the pixels filled up so fast, and if the owner hadn't imposed a million dollar limit it might even be still growing today.

If, on the other hand, the "get rich quick scheme" comment was directed at our Hall of Fame idea, well... I can't really say anything to dispute that because... generating funds in the shortest time possible was kind of the whole idea, in order to fund hosting fees and pay for development of the site. Or am I missing something? If the "get rich" part specifically refers to me, Dave, or both of us setting up the Hall of Fame page to line our own pockets and then just let the site sink, I really don't know how to respond to that. If personal gain was the ultimate goal of the Hall of Fame, why would we have invested so much for so long in the site, just to hoodwink the people we built trust in for a fraction of that amount?

FFabbia, please try not to be too pessimistic. Yes, the amount of donors seems low, but most of those donations came within a few days of posting the appeal. The site was in danger of closing in two weeks, but the donations within a few days have guaranteed the site's survival for the foreseeable future. This is very good news! Donations slowed down midweek, but perhaps people are most active on the weekends? Let this weekend be the litmus test to prove or disprove that theory.

Once again, thanks to all of you for the outpouring of support. You have no idea how stunned and grateful we are for the massive response so far. Thank you!


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Old 03-07-2015, 23:22 PM
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I have no personal interest in banners for cash donated, you can have the money, just put it to good use in keeping the site going and maybe developing it. (I've offloaded all my ideas for making the site available to 15m people at no streaming cost - to Amadeus Dave

However, If you deem that showing banners might encourage others to donate then please go ahead. up to you, you administer as you see fit. The next few months will be interesting .....


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Old 03-07-2015, 23:28 PM

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"figure out ways to make the donations required to keep the basic site up and running a bit less"

means

Figure out how to reduce the site costs so that any donations (in september or whenever) don't have to be so high.

There was no slur on anyone on mp3u when I mentioned the get rich quick thing. I don't understand the banner thing and I don't understand the viral thing. People never cease to amaze me etc.. But Phil Mc said it all - he's not bothered about a banner but if it is deemed to help the cause then please insert one for me where you see fit (oo-er missus)
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Old 03-07-2015, 23:46 PM
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Back to the "hall of fame" page and the banners...unless there's a lot more participation with that ( I thought every donor was going to do it) I'm having second thoughts, and size issues ha ha! Maybe I should have kicked in as much as Rich!
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Old 04-07-2015, 17:52 PM

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Thank you Andy, I understand exactly what you meant now. It should have been obvious the first time, but I was kind of exhausted last time and my brain just couldn't function...

As has been explained by Dave and I previously, unfortunately there is no way of reducing current hosting fees without switching servers, and no way of switching servers without getting professional help from coders who we would need to pay to help us do that.

Switching servers is easier said than done... "One does not simply copy and paste a website consisting of countless terabytes of data to a new server..." Even if it were simple for a coder, starting from scratch on a new server would be the perfect opportunity to get bugs fixed, player updated, possibly introduce a subscription fee if we decide to go down that route. Again, all things that we could not do without outsourcing professional help.

Let me be clear about who we are. As Dave said elsewhere on the forum, neither of us are coders. We are just musicians like everyone else, with a little bit of net savvy, some graphic design skills (me), a lot of marketing know-how (Dave) and big dreams to create a music site we would proud to be members of, if we had no involvement with it as admin.

One great idea put forward is the kickstarter.com crowd sourcing idea. This is definitely a viable idea. However, in order to stand up to the scrutiny of potential investors, a website must have high potential as a successful site. This means it must be free of bugs, periodic glitches, ongoing technical issues, and be functional across all platforms including smartphones. MP3U as it stands is clearly too buggy to withstand such scrutiny.

As Dave has said before, but it is well worth repeating, there are two main immediate goals:

1. Raise enough to pay for ongoing monthly hosting payments on the current server. So far, so good.
2. Beyond that, raise enough to pay development costs to iron out bugs, update the player, enable cross-platform functionality including becoming mobile-friendly.

Once the above has been achieved, we have a good chance of getting kickstarter investment funding, which we can use to switch servers, reduce ongoing costs, introduce a subscription fee if needs be, and so on and so forth.

Many great ideas have been brainstormed, and we appreciate each and every piece of input! Not a single idea has been dismissed, they have just been postponed until the above priority goals have been achieved. We intend to consider every option very carefully.

Simplicity is the essence of clarity, which is why we are focussing on those two priorities above before tackling more complex issues.

Thank you again for all your support!
I can state, quite literally, that mp3unsigned would not be here right now if it weren't for you guys.
We have no intention of letting you down.


Darth.
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