NOAH / FUTURTOPIA
Oct 7, 2017 · 6 min read
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In the last week of September 2017, the wave.ac team conducted a focus group with artists to gauge the interest and importance of certain features, concepts, and services. Our pool of 108 artists who responded comprise the topic of this focus group.

There’s a Will Ferrell movie from the early 2000s called Kicking and Screaming. It’s the story about an eccentric, over-the-top Dad who becomes the aggressive coach of his son’s recreational soccer team. After the team has a consistent losing streak, Ferrell’s character enlists the help of two local Italian meatboys to help salvage the team’s shoddy record.

While this has absolutely nothing to do with audio streaming, nor the state of the music industry, it indirectly has affected the wave.ac brand. In the movie, the Italian meatboys have a saying: “Meat comes first.” At wave.ac, we have adopted said saying and rewritten this statement to, “Artists come first.”

We thoroughly believe artists come first. The current state of the industry does not exactly support that belief. So, we decided to ask you, the artists, a lot of questions. Some of you got mad at us for how many questions we asked, but we can assure you that we are going to use this data to refine our plans, outlook, and expectations for the platform we are building! Ultimately, we got 108 artists to respond in what was become our first ever artist focus group. Hey, that’s pretty good! We’ve since aggregated the data and questions and wanted to post a select few of the highlights for our community to see.

The Biggest Winners and Losers
In the rating section of our inquiry, we asked artists to rate specific concept services and ideas on a scale from 1 to 5. 1 being “yeah, that’s absolute trash, don’t make it a thing” and 5 being “holy shit, that’d be a godsend and a necessity.” Here, you can see the averages of the rating scores from each service or idea we asked about. This should give you a good idea which features were in the highest and lowest demand.

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The services and tools held in the highest esteem generally came from the theme of audio quality, the community update, and other elements we have planned. These are all features which we fully intend to integrate in due time.

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However, in a little bit of a revelation moment for us, we found that bits and pieces of our proposed commerce and marketplace updates were held in the lowest esteem! The buying and selling options averaged a 3.15 overall, making it one of the lowest priorities for artists. What is considerably interesting about this is that these features are likely the most profitable means for the industry and for artists, so it really struck us as a surprise.

Nonetheless, we were receptive to both the most and least important kind of features and have used this data to refine how we’re going to go forward. We’ll have an article about how the focus group changed our roadmap and expectations for you next week.

Key Elements and Demand
In the latter part of our focus group, we asked artists to tell us what factors would contribute to their usage of wave.ac, premium features, and so on and so forth. From this, we were able to conclude that the vast majority of users considered the userbase and community to be the most valuable element for the platform. These are changes which we are actively considering (and as aforementioned) and will discuss in our next blog post.

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While we asked artists specifically to tell us what they thought of specific ideas and features, we also asked them to tell us what kind of features they wanted. From this, we contrived that engagement tools — like download gates, contests, follow tools, and other things — were a top priority for artists. Artists also expressed the need for analytics on the platform, which they aligned with on the rating section as well.

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In third place, our brand’s core service — the audio streaming service — placed. I still have yet to figure out where the other 30% went. In a close fourth and fifth for most wanted were customization elements for profiles and the webpage and the artist tools and community.

Existing Service Usage

One section of our focus group entirely focused on the services and tools artists use right now. From this, we contrived that an astonishing 95 percent of respondents actively use Soundcloud to publish their content. Among other popular platforms used were YouTube/Google Play Music and Clyp.

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It was unsurprising to us that the free services were the most popular ones, seeing as though there is a steep entry for publishing on Spotify and iTunes. It’s a problem we hope to solve using wave.ac, but it’s one that our partner service Rave Advisory is already working on in the meantime.

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Soundcloud Dysphoria

Another interesting precedent we observed in our focus group was a case of dysphoria with Soundcloud. In a separate question in which we asked which services artists used to promote their music, 86 percent of respondents indicated they used Soundcloud. We followed this question up by asking what their favourite music company was. Many respondents indicated something different than Soundcloud. In fact, the vast majority of respondents indicated a service that they didn’t even publish their music on — such as Spotify or Apple Music.

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Legal Questions

We had a lot of people write in some questions. One of the biggest recurring questions was about how wave.ac will handle copyright, and we have a whole blog post slated to discuss this which will be out in the coming weeks. I want to assure everyone that wave.ac will be compliant with international copyright laws and the DMCA. However, our approach to handling copyright will not be as authoritarian as systems have been on Soundcloud and YouTube’s ContentID. So while we fully intend to be law-abiding and compliant, we also intend to be fair and make it a system which benefits everyone.

So that all said, we want to thank all 108 artists from around the web who took our focus group. Your thoughts and insights were extremely valuable and we’ll be reaching out to a few of you to keep those discussions going.

We’ll be using the data collected from this focus group to change our roadmap, plans, and outlook. It’s a theme we’ll be discussing in next week’s blog. In the meantime, check out the wave.ac site to find our Twitter, Discord, and sign up for our Winter beta.

Thanks friend!
~Noah

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