BURBANK, CA – In space, no one can hear your stream. This is the particular vacuum XtortA, a start-up music-streaming service with a truly innovative business model, wants to fill. XtortA’s value proposition is devilishly simple, albeit some might say, inherently evil. Using the vast wealth of personal data derived from public and paid private sources, XtortA compiles a sizable individualized playlist of music it is confident a particular user would absolutely despise — and then streams it everywhere the user goes online. XtortA monetizes this endless feed in two ways: users can pay $11.99 per month to replace the aural torture the company has curated with playlists of their own creation, or cough up $7.99 per month just to make the painful streaming stop.
Of course, the $7.99 option is the one that garners jaw-gaping stares from nearly everyone who understands this shrewdly devised new business model’s implications. XtortA has effectively invaded users’ personal space and is now demanding payment before it will retreat. The company’s novel “pay-not-to-play” scheme means millions of users will be forced to fork over a monthly fee or endure an unending audio assault. The company’s cloud-based, custom-created playlist of pain is fault tolerant, global and will simply never, ever go away.
Over the past 10 months, XtortA’s venture backers have surreptitiously helped the firm to secure rights to stream audio under and around a dizzying array of web elements. It would appear that no mobile user is safe from the reach of XtortA’s services. “We are absolutely a mobile-first app”, asserts XtortA CEO, Damian Faust. He goes on to explain, “In the very near future, you will begin to hear XtortA’s stream as the background to mobile shopping and payment app screens”.
The company is also diligently exploring methods to carry its model to the offline realm; a move analysts believe could ramp up subscription rates substantially. The $11.99 option, branded XtortA Freedom, functions pretty much as every other music-streaming service, insofar as the company has licensed most widely available artists. The value-add for users of this plan is that it supplants generic background music in most online environments, offering significantly more control of ambient noise factors. “Our entire business is about space. In a persistently connected world, space is at a premium. What we’ve done is simply develop a methodology to monetize that”, said Faust.
To date, only a few privacy and music advocacy organizations have had the opportunity to preview XtortA. Appalled would be an understatement for describing their reaction. Faust however is quick to dismiss threats of legal action from the privacy camp. He has been quoted as saying, “Everyone signed up for this! They’ve been blithely checking ‘ok’ on user agreements for 15 years. What did people think was going to happen? It’s all in the T’s&C’s”. As far as pleas for artistic justice from music industry representatives, Faust points out that “”Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk reminded the world there are alternate models for the business side of music. We just found a different way to ask to be paid”.
By figuring out how to extract payments for some of the last “white space” in our collective, connected existence, XtortA has opened a new frontier. When asked about the impact of its services on a free and open Internet, Faust replied, “People have always known that Freedom isn’t free. It has a price. It’s $11.99 per month”.