Not sure if this is what this group is for but I would like to follow up on Rick's idea that free users have it too good.
Rather than limiting uploads as Rick suggested, I would recommend mild irritants like:
-An extra page that they must navigate through in order to get to the upload/download page. This page can have stuff like that annoying captcha thing and a reminder how awesome the site is and wouldn't it be nice to support it.
-Caps on up/down speeds. This would free up bandwith for paying users and possibly be annoying enough to push more people to convert to paying member status.
Both of these ideas would be only mildly crippling and not limit/kill any creative stuff, which I believe is the goal.
Thanks. My initial thought is to provide a new cool awesome uploader (like a desktop client) that will only be available to PLUS members. Let the free users use the existing web-based uploader (which, by the way, currently limits FREE users to only 2 files at a time per upload).
If only a way to organize the plus membership folks to help free users convert to plus membership.
Perhaps give a ways in the form of a Kompoz hat or T-shirt for plus membership for a month at a time. Make videos of the plus advantages and put on the top page of the site and get rid of the rotating pictures. I am sure more than one of us could bone up sometime to edit video of current [lack of a better term] sign up specials and keep them fresh and engaging.
Just ideas. Raf what you have created is a wonderful life changing and addictive environment. I would be very upset if something happened to Kompoz. It's my drug.
I disagree with the annoying approach. Free is a strong motivator. Capchas, wait periods, ads... Annoying is simply annoying. To me, it doesn't go a long way towards endearing ourselves to our customer base. Free makes the folks queue up for a mile to get an ice cream cone that costs a buck. The web tries free and free cheapens the web experience.
The site has functionality and value on its merits alone. Any mildly competent user/musician recognizes the power of Kompoz.
Think of psychology behind a fully functional user trial period. We're saying, this stuff is so good we believe you'll see the value behind 5 bucks a month. It'll hook you faster than a Thai fishbowl (ok that's obscure enough... look it up).
Adobe Lightroom? Free for 30 days. Camerabag? Try that crack for a month and you're back. Kompoz is no different. It's your hobby. Your passion. You'll be back. Trust me. Jam with your bros and have a pro mix it down? For the cost of a double mocha latte, frape, whipped surprise? Sign me up. Hop a plane to Sweden and stare at tall beautiful blonds, then jam with your bros in a Bjorn supplied warehouse? Where's the clipboard?
It's a much different approach to say, "tired of us poking you with a stick? Fork over the dough and we'll stop."
The long term result of this strategy is less overall system pressure (throughput). Folks may think harder and collaborate more effectively in order to 'use' their tracks wisely. I know, "I can always create multiple user names." Ahhhh, maybe not. Yoda, Raf may consider matching user names via source IP and thus adding a parry to your thrust. You might also consider continuing past a max number of tracks but severely limiting track quality.
All ideas, but I truly believe we're driving a luxury car here and not a fleet car.
Have you ever downloaded a free ap? I personally don't consider navigating through an ad page on par with a stick poking.
Giving a limited time offer would actually hurt paying members, if they are involved in projects with free users. Then everyone will avoid contributing to trial members and so much for the "Kompoz experience".
You would want free users to have as much functionality as possible so they can be as creative as possible and that means not limiting thier time or thier down/uploads.
After two months of using Reaper I finally bought it because one day I was tired of waiting for the trial screen to count down from 5. It didn't drive me away nor was I feeling any poking sensations.
I'm in agreement with Rick and I think the simplest, easiest to manage solution is to use the "MMORPG" model. Offer users the full site experience for a 30 day trial period. When the 30 days is over they have 4 choices:
Pay $75.00 for an annual membership
Pay $22.00 for a quarterly membership
Pay $8.00 for a monthly membership
Right now, other than loyalty and concern for the well-being of the community, there is very little reason to become a paying Kompoz member. There are a couple of "inconveniences" but they are minor. People figured out long ago how to exchange WAV files via Dropbox.
Kompoz does not need a large base of free users. It only puts unnecessary and costly demands on the infrastructure.
What Kompoz does need is a much larger group of users paying for the service and a compelling method of converting the free users to paying members.
Absolutely I've downloaded free apps. I get what I pay for. Either a really cumbersome user experience or an ad supported but sound experience. Free is good when the business model can pay for it. What we're seeing here is downward pressure on the user experience. We can't save it with advertising. Short of a benefactor the model demands a fee... then get out of the way and get on. As Jim correctly poses, if you can't go a full year then put up month to month. But we've got a service here folks. It's not an all you can eat buffet. There are very real costs in terms of manpower and real estate. PLUS members are already carrying a load.
If you spend your time crafting around the system with dropboxes and the like, WTF? Why punch the site in the nose? So I introduce you to your wife and you don't invite me to the wedding?
I say go forward with a trial period and let the chips fall where they may.
I disagree Joe. Free users do not broaden the talent. I'm sure there are exceptions, but I find that most often, free users do not contribute to the projects of others...they want contributions to their own projects and then they bolt.
Free users certainly do not bring in paying customers. They alert their friends that they have found a great free service. Maybe Raf can shed some light. What is the free user to pay user ratio?
When you ask "No one is addressing what actually happens when the trial period runs out or when a paid subscription expires and how this will effect paying users." That's pretty simple. You lose access to the site after the trial period or when your subscription expires.
More simply, I'd press for inability to upload tracks, and email folks (that will curtail pm to send tracks).... in order to download tracks, you must join. I'd suggest calling that a listener account. Groups and forums, Ok. Phoebus, show us some free users that are tearing up the site.
Naming names will only lead to a counterproductive discusion on the merits of individual kompozers. You have "kompozed with" quite a few and Steve has done up close and personal blogs about them.
I must restate my original point that has still not been addressed. What happens to PAYING members under this new policy?
Are you going to take the time to work out a killer track for someone who's account will be crippled in a couple of days? Really? think about it, is anyone of us going to join in on projects that are more than likely going to go dead when the users time runs out?
One of the big selling points of this site is our ability to transform ideas and make them full blown finished productions. Trial users will never experience this and thus will not be sold on this site and will simply go elsewhere, because believe it or not we ain't the only game in town.
Speaking of competitors, we should probably keep things like the numbers(even estimates) of kompozers paying/non paying out of a public forum like this.
I thought Jim and I were clear about what happens. Here's the general idea:
You cannot upload more tracks.
** OR, to address your concern, your upload is severely limited by size and/or quality. You propose this in your initial post. I know this might inhibit further collab or limit it to begin with, but that's precisely the point. If you like the service, you've had thirty days (or sixty, or whatever we feel is a fair time to collaborate in an unlimited way) for free. It's actually more than anyone gets out of the gate now.
EDIT: I suppose you can simply not post how much time a user has left on their trial period and give them a PLUS badge as well. Then other collaborators won't be inclined to ignore you. It also lets new users get the TOTAL Kompoz experience, badge and all.
I hear you man. I would much rather have someone with deep pockets finance our fun. It's the optimal way. The status quo is not working. The fact remains there is a problem. There are various ways to work within the confines of the concerns you address. They can be solved with a few cans of energy drink fed to a crafty programmer.
The other way to make it work is to plaster the site with advertising. I think that destroys the spirit. I could be wrong. I really don't want online dating or motor oil ads plastered next to a well crafted song, but that's just me.
I really don't think we disagree much here. You initially say, limit upload size. And, I suggest something that gives current users more, the chance to participate in an unlimited way and THEN, employ your ideas (capchas, speeds, etc).
1) Regarding a project that might "go dead" because a user's account is expiring (free trial or paying member). Is it possible for some visual indicator to show up on the project page when the user is 30 days or less from expiring? This would remind the user each time he sees his projects and it would warn potential collaborators about the possibility of expiration. Kompozers who wish to join a project could open a dialogue with the project owner to see if he/she plans to stick around (an opportunity for Kompozers to sell the site to new users.)
2. The time limit / trial membership concept could work in stages. Free access for 30 days (similar to the current free access privledges), then 30 days of "click here" acknowledgement that the membership will expire.
Combined with a warning label (see item #1 above):
The trial member has time to work without an abrupt shut-down
Collaborators have a warning when a member is expiring.
Site performance is not hampered for trial members (except as it is today; mp3 only, etc.)
No undue annoyances except a warning of pending expiration after the initial 30 days (which is reasonable.)
3. Another stand alone idea is to limit profile and image accessibility.
Free/trial users cannot use a profile pic. The standard pic is used for a trial member. Maybe they can choose between a cartoon drummer, guitarist, bassist, pianist, etc.
Trial users cannot apply custom pics to new projects. Again, a standard selection of pics is all they can choose from, Alternatively, they can use pics but trial member project iamages have a corner banner with an innocuous word or phrase.
This idea doesn't affect site performance in any way, but the trial member sticks out like a rented tuxedo at a Mafia wedding.
Looks like we're all in the 'chat room'. Consensus is developing. As stated before, give new users EVERYTHING. The whole lot. No limits. The message is, 'It's good in here. We're so confident, we're handing you the keys to the Benz.'
I suggest not hi-lighting them in any way since as you say I might not want to collab with them.
Reminders are good and part of the trial period. I'd suggest a reminder at each session with the time remaining and the chance to join the party... as you suggest. That's part of standard operating procedure. No reinventing the wheel here. The big boys are doing this already.
To add to Rick's summary, although it was brought up, some method of preventing people from simply creating a new free account is a critical measure. As far as I know, an IP trace is the only reliable method for doing this.
"I suggest not hi-lighting them in any way since as you say I might not want to collab with them"
Doesn't this expose PLUSmembers to having their work go dorment if a user expires two days after the track submission? It seems to me that a fair, but non-threatening highlight such as the image limitation is merely a polite nudge that does not affect functionality in any way. (idea #3 in my previous post).
A potential downside to not highlighting the trial member is a reduced user experience for paying members and ultimately the same type of discrimination toward the trial member (except random.)
For example. A long time PLUS member spends a day recording a great drum track for a trial member, unbeknownst to the fact that the trial member's account will expire the next day (or week.) The trial guy chooses not to join and the project goes dorment. Now, when the PLUSmember looks at the next opportunity, he looks at the project owners join date and makes a discriminatory decision whether to take the risk. The result is that the paid member may not want to Kompoz with any new member until they are a known PLUSmember.
Of course an argument could be made that risk exists in any investment of time and effort. Human dynamics might result in discriminatory decision making regardless. I'm just wondering if there is a need to protect the integrity of the Kompoz experience for paying members.