#118 - We're back up and you can use your credit card!
#118 - We're back up and you can use your credit card!
You've asked and we've been able to answer.... Many of you had issues using PayPal's Guest system for bypassing PayPal to purchase using a credit card. Finally, we were able to bring in a new payment processor that allows you to bypass PayPal altogether! Woo Hoo! We're as excited as you are ... but it didn't come without a lot of pain points. Read on if you'd like to know what owning a website store means......
Life in the music business isn't a cake walk. In fact, many people are under the illusion that sending our customers download links doesn't cost any money... "it's just digital information - there's no manufacturing." Well, I'm here to say that the days of having CDs and Vinyl in real "Brink and Mortar" stores all over the world is sorely missed. Although, I don't miss shipping products... . :)
We exist for our customers. It's because of your desire for DSD downloads that we have endured the emotional roller coaster of having a music marketplace with albums that each take up 20 gigs of space at AWS so that we can deliver a high fidelity sound to you. Each album is 16 hours to prepare the audio, graphics, youtube previews, descriptions, metadata for up to 10 different formats that (on average) will sell about 10 downloads per album per year. Even more interesting to note, this is still a better average sale than what most albums acoustic albums are getting from streaming services.... and guess what... HD streaming pays the same OR LESS than mp3 streams.
On the other side of the marketplace, are the royalties. Specialized accounting systems that can handle thousands of item transactions to send to multiple rights holders (meaning the artist/label gets a percentage, then the publishing/composer gets a percentage) need to be managed that then tie in with a business's regular accounting system (like Quickbooks or Zoho). Item level reports need to be generated for entry into these systems, then sent out to the artists. Meaning... when a customer buys 4 albums, from different labels and artists from one store, those need to be divide up so the right album is attributed the sale. On a bigger level, single track downloads potential create 10 times more line item sales... and streaming, even for $10 worth of sales could represent 100,000's of line item streams. It's often like a house made of sticks. DSP's (the stores like Tidal, Spotify and Qobuz, etc) have no reporting that is the same and often times, many streaming service reports can't be fed into an accounting system. Yes, it's tragic that many streaming services are under reported.
The third part of this equation is the ecosystem that stores the files for deliver, the website, and the payment processors. Every download sale requires these things work together in a seamless style. The payment processing so that you can use your credit card can cost upto 5% of a sale. Storage of the files at AWS and bandwidth to deliver large files runs another 10-15%, keeping the website at a hosting platform plus programmers to manage updates on the sites can be another 10-15%. Of course these percentages vary with number of sales, but you get the picture that after payouts for royalties, we have very small margins to work with. Add in promotion and publicity and a company is lucky to breakeven. Let me say, we don't do this for the money, we do this for the love of acoustic music, great sound and the artists we love.
So, even though we're a small marketplace, we become an important part of the eco system for keeping small indie artists and labels alive and with a voice for presenting their music at their finest.
Changing from PayPal to a new payment processor was not easy but the urgency had been magnified as we heard from many of you that PayPal required signing up. Like you, we didn't feel that should be a requirement to use a credit card. After much complaining to PayPal, they offered a program for us to consider. When we tried to implement the new system, it seemed to be worse than before. Then our hosting program contacted us with information they had found a problem with our droplet our website was at. While fixing PayPal, our website was down for days as we scrambled to find a solution for a new droplet.
This had never happened before. Sure, we've had notices from our hosting company that regular maintenance was occurring and we might experience a short outage... but never for days and possible loss off weeks of updates. Hats off to our crew, Patrick and David, who immediate rushed in with focused attention to get the site back up at all.
We decided since PayPal was not understanding our issues and seemed blind to restore back to our previous stage, we decided enough was enough... time to try a new payment processor. Since our website was built in Drupal, it's a little more challenging but we were able to make Stripe work and offer our music loving customers CREDIT CARD payments. That also triggered a completely new reporting system in our website since our reports to artists had previously come from PayPal reporting. Meaning... new accounting updates and reporting systems. Even the way we were handling email receipts has changed because we can no longer see immediately what a customer has purchased. Weekly reports on sales from our Seattle guy, Albert, needed to change as well. Years of methods in place overhauled in days.
But would it really work for our customers? So far, launching yesterday, most of you are having a better and easier experience. YOU CAN NOW USE YOUR CREDIT CARDS WITH EASE AND WITHOUT A PAYPAL ACCOUNT. And those of you wanting to use Paypal, you still can.
Needless to say, it was a painful week but so far, WE'RE REALLY HAPPY WITH THE UPDATES AND THE CHANGE.
We're now looking forward to creating new music and bringing it to you to enjoy!
That was probably too much information, but every now and then, I think it's helpful for you to know what goes on behind the scenes to bring you music at this quality level. It's not all about being in the studio having a great time. We do this for love and the community of artists and listeners who love music and sound as much as we do.
Have a great week and take advantage of all the coupons coming your way in the newsletters!
Founder and Producer