The Story Behind Resonate
As many often ask how our project came to be, let’s start with an introduction… my name is Peter and I’m the Founder of Resonate. We’re a streaming music service in development. One with a very interesting spin, but more on that later.
I’ve always been obsessed with music and that’s where this story really begins. Everyone always asks what inspired me to start this venture and the answer is always… the music.
Whether it was writing emo guitar folk songs, banging out heavy punk/progrock beats on the drums or composing expansive electronica experiences, music has always been a consistent thread in my life.
Simultaneous to those musical meanderings, I had a day job as a web developer. By luck, fate or something in between, I got my first full time web gig in 1999 working for a boutique agency named McCartney Multimedia. As you might guess, they also had a musical background, so we often built websites for famous stars, classic rock legends, as well as some amazing undiscovered talent.
Those early years building websites for musicians coincided with the digital onslaught that was Napster. We watched the saga unfold, the question “what happens next for the music industry?” was on our lips pretty much every day.
Eventually I went freelance as a web designer, but never stopped asking those questions. Year in, year out… I wondered what was the best way forward and how were musicians going to adapt to the massive changes in the industry post-Napster?
By day I’d build websites and by night… pump out endless electronica beats.
As an electronica producer from 2000–2010, I continuously experimented with pretty much every web-based music distribution system available… Bandcamp, SoundCloud, Jamendo, ReverbNation, CDBaby, TuneCore and many others lost to history.
With eager anticipation I tried every platform, hoping that maybe my questions were finally going to get answered.
But there was always something missing.
I’d try all of these services but either they didn’t do what I wanted them to do, or there was something off-putting about the way the companies were run. Nothing ever sat right and so I kept trying out new services, always on the look out for The One that was finally going to offer musicians what they really needed.
And then 2008 hit.
And it hit HARD.
A massive financial crisis that finally got people talking about money, power, politics and capitalism.
The Occupy Movement burst across the world stage and suddenly there was a new language for discussing money and politics. Everyone was now talking about the 99% and the need for change. But other than protesting, how was real change going to come about?
So while Resonate has no inherent politic ambitions (I mean, we really ARE just building a music app) we believe that it’s time people started looking at the politics of money, because things are only getting worse.
Some may not think that the issues in the music industry are connected to the 99/1 movement, but if you look a little deeper, a pattern emerges.
- a music startup that gets swallowed by a bigger corporation
- a major label doing backroom deals with Spotify
- Pandora’s CEO saying their main goal is to drive value to shareholders
- Internet service providers scheme to charge huge data overages
- or claims that the majors will share profits if Spotify is sold (without likely disclosing any of the details)
…the writing is on the wall. These services don’t have the interests of musicians and fans at heart.
Put another way, transparency and accountability are simply not in their operating code.
Fortunately there is an alternative.
The values of transparency, accountability and fairness are at the heart of the cooperative movement, which covers everything from small grocery stories to the massive Mondragon Cooperative of Spain which had over $13 billion in revenue in 2014.
Cooperatives are a type of business that allow members to vote on a number of issues… how the company functions, what the wages are, who should run the operations, who should serve on the board of directors and countless other examples.
For Resonate this means that fans, musicians and indie labels will be able to decide what features to implement, who should serve on the advisory boards and who can run Resonate. This is why we’re building the world’s first cooperatively owned music streaming service.
And yes, if you’re putting two and two together, it means what it sounds like… I could have spent years building this company and end up getting voted out from running it. Because that’s what cooperatives are meant to do… eliminate the possibility of power centers that dominate the direction of the organization.
Contrast this against the typical startup story where the founders get rich and sell everybody else out and I hope you’ll see where my heart is.
While I’m sure I left important details out, there’s always the opportunity for the story to evolve. If you have any questions about our coop structure or processes, feel free to get in touch and we’ll try to answer your concerns.