In 2014 we took baby steps.. but here comes 2015
In January 2014 we opened up the the Bittunes Android app on Google Play in Private Alpha release.. Through the early part of the year we concentrated on developing the application, adding various features to make it increasingly useful.. Toward the end of October we moved to ‘Open Beta’ phase on Google Play and opened up a content upload site where Artists could configure their single tracks, EP’s or Albums.
A year of Development & Testing through Alpha & Beta
Buyers purchased 214 tracks (with Bitcoin)
Bittunes automatically paid 1169 Royalty and Distributor payments to Artists and Buyers..
(and the app is still not yet publicly available)
OK.. Firstly, before we run through data from 2014, for those who may not be familiar with the app, here is a brief overview.
Bittunes has two primary menu systems
The side-bar menu (shown above) has four collapsible sections: Music, Earning, People and Community.. This menu helps users navigate to the key pages of interest in regard to discovering new music in the system or to check the progress of tracks on the ‘overall top 100’ or the various top 100’s per genre. The three pages listed under ‘people’ feature lists of users from the 3 different user categories. The Community section gives access to grouped messages and the ‘Offers & Requests’ page, which is like a free classified ad section for all users to ask for or offer services etc.
The main menu system on your ‘My Profile’ page
The ‘My Profile’ page is your personal hub in Bittunes.. It’s menu runs across the middle of the page horizontally and a swipe action will shift between pages. After logging on, the default open page is the 2nd menu item: ‘My Stream’ which displays a range of information about the activities of other users that you follow interspersed with earning and level change alerts and messages between users. ‘Purchased Tracks’ shows updating earning totals of all the tracks you have purchased and ‘My Transactions’ is the access point to manage your Bitcoin transfers.
Behind the scenes the Bittunes team has been busy..
There was a preliminary period in 2013 when we had an uploading facility available on the Bittunes web site, and some Artists did upload tracks, we allowed selected Artists that were part of the Alpha testing group to also upload tracks, but when we opened the upload facility again in October 2014 tracks started coming in very quickly. Most Bittunes Artists at the moment are from the US, (below left), although there are Artists from a total of 16 countries in the system (even one from the Vatican City apparently, although that might have been a joke). Track purchases were spread fairly evenly across the system, and as can be seen (below right), a small number of sales will distribute a proportionately large number of micro-payments to buyers.
Music Makers by country and micro-payments earned
A number of new genres were added to the system by new Artists with the total amount of genres at year’s end being 24. The most popular genre was ‘electronic’, the top 11 genres can be seen below.
The full tracks by genre: Electronic 83, Pop 27, Punk 26, Hip Hop 25, Country Rock 21, Metal 20, Songwriter 15, Country 13, EDM 12, Ambient 11, Reggae 10, Alternative Brass 10, Chiptune 10, Indie 9, Rap 4, Drum & Bass 3, Rock 2, Big Band 1, Jazz 1, Podcast 1, Industrial Rock 1, Avant-Garde 1, Smooth 0,
Rating tracks and track rankings
Many users were quite active rating tracks in the application, but none more so than our uber-rater Isaac a.k.a. ‘Ultra Aliens’.. well done Isaac (although he can be brutal!) with 228 individual rating instances during 2014! That was almost half of the 525 total rating events for the year.
The rating of songs is an important process in Bittunes, especially in the early stages when the ranking of tracks on the top 100s are partly based on sales, but also on qualitative factors like the 5 star rating.. i.e better tracks (as judged by members) will tend to rise higher in the top 100 rankings. (and tracks with the same amount of sales can be separated by different cumulative totals of ratings by users). When the purchasing and distribution of songs is an established process (with sufficient data available) on the overall system, the ranking tables showing top 100′s will change to a purely sales based ranking, but it will still be possible to view the top 100 selling songs in any genre/category by (perceived) quality ratings.
The Bittunes ‘Probability Index’ algorithm
Typically there are 5 providers who share the micro-payments paid to previous buyers of a track. Bittunes uses a ‘probability Index’ algorithm that skews selection of providers towards those who are more active in the system, (logging in regularly, rating tracks, and generally being a good Bittunes citizen) However, we apply this weighting to 3 of the 5 selected users taking part in any given transaction, with the other 2 selected always being selected from ‘newbies’.. So, in this way we try to guarantee that the system is as fair as possible. As we move forward (out of Beta stage) we will adapt this algorithm and inform users about the exact details of how it is working.
Current User Distribution
The user distribution in Bittunes closely resembles the Artist distribution with Australia and US being the dominant territories, however we expect these early patterns to change a lot through 2015.
User Growth in Community and Bitcoin Deposits
The graphs below only show user growth in the Google+ Community and Bitcoin deposits by users since late October 2014. The Bitcoin deposits are relatively small but we feel show a significant trend with more and more users freely charging their accounts. There is currently no other way to put funds into the Bittunes ecosystem than with Bitcoin, because we are a Bitcoin ‘Pure Play’ service. Having said that, its also useful to remember that many Bittunes Artists are uploading tracks EP’s and Albums into the Bittunes system and the percentages of Bitcoin they are earning are the very first Bitcoin they have ever owned.
Creative Commons funding
Bittunes has an inbuilt mechanism to allocate a percentage of payments to help fund Creative Commons, because we use the CC framework as the underlying rights system for Bittunes. When a new music track is purchased (as mentioned above) the Bittunes probability index looks to try and find five previous buyers of that track to allocate micro-payments to. However, when a track is new to the system there cannot be five previous buyers. There is 1 initial buyer of the track and then 2 and so on.. So, we have devised a system whereby Creative Commons is awarded decreasing percentages of the available transaction amount up until the fifth buyer of any given track. Following the fifth sale the ‘Probability Index’ takes over and is able to start selecting from the growing list of users who have purchased that track.
The diagram below (and screen shot from app on right) illustrates this process. This diagram represents the first sales of a track that is on the Overall Top 100, and thereby has a price equivalent to US$1.00 (the user provider portion of such a track is 40c which is paid and divided as percentages of Bitcoin but calculated at the exact time of purchase at the current exchange rate of Bitcoin to US$) The top row shows the first payment to Creative Commons of 40c which then decreases with every successive sale until the 5 sales point is reached.
There are clear incentives to being the first buyer of a track and generally in being an early buyer of a track that goes on to make significant sales. The purchase history of tracks is recorded in the Bittunes system and as we move to full P2P and Blockchain integration this order will be embedded into a Blockchain (sidechain). The current system allocates Creative Commons limited funding from the first set of sales of a track and these micro-payments are batched and held for payment to the Creative Commons organization at periodic intervals.
In 2014 from the 214 tracks purchased there was a total of US$30.08 (BTC 0.1087626) collected on behalf of Creative Commons, (as at today’s relatively low exchange rate). As the system matures and the price of Bitcoin inevitably rises, we hope that this may become more than a token gesture to this great organisation.
and last but not least..
We would like to acknowledge the outstanding work done by our CTO Adrien Violet who put in a huge amount of time and dedicated energy to developing the Android application, and making sure that the system has functioned in an optimal way and has tended to the various bugs and problems we encountered with a great deal of patience and grace.
Well done Mate..
2015 and beyond..
We have a huge development agenda for 2015.. We plan to extend Bittunes to a much wider platform base, making it much more accessible to more people. We also have plans to embed song ownership and transaction history as a Blockchain solution and introduce some very unique new features on top of all that, to provide a new kind of music sharing (and earning) experience that is only possible by the use of Bitcoin.
Finally, we would like to genuinely thank all of our early adopter users, both ‘Music Makers’ and ‘Music Movers’.. Without your input and enthusiasm for what we are trying to achieve, we would literally have nothing. There are challenges ahead and the project very much needs external investment, as we have been almost totally self funded to date. However, we are very positive about the road ahead. 🙂
Onward and upward..