JamKazam -12/03/2020: All Good Things Must Come to an End
Updated: Mar 20
Unlike Jamkazam, this saying has roots that stretch back to the 1300s.
Research tells us a gentleman, Geoffrey Chaucer, wrote in his poem, Troilus and Criseyde: “But at the laste, as every thing hath ende, She took hir leve, and nedes wolde wende.” I don't know what all that means but I think the modern spin on it would be, "Enjoy whatever you have that is cool today, because it may not be cool tomorrow." It just seems like life itself that something that is going ok (or well) will stop working that way eventually. That generally makes us sad but the way I see it, something that is awful, like COVID, is not always going to be around creating problems for us either. Anyway... on to JamKazam:
As you may have surmised from the title, the folks at Jamkazam have indicated they will start to offer premium options for their music collaboration platform beginning 01/01/2021. So, you can either keep your "free" plan that will perform at up to 128kbps, with a max limit of 4 players, for a 1-hour session, or upgrade to a Silver, Gold and Platinum account. This JamKazam knowledge base article provides a good comparison of the "free" verses the "paid" options. A chart is provided below for folks who HATE to read, like me.
We all knew this was coming, since other bidirectional collaborative music platforms, like Kompoz and others, have similar monthly pricing tiers for their use. A few of my colleagues disagree with this, but I don't believe ANY services that are web-based, like JamKazam, that allow for actual LIVE collaboration operate as well as live performance situations.
The other products that are "free" like NINJAM, Jamulus, JackTrip or SoundJack make use of dedicated servers and/or DAW software and are REALLY tough to set up. Most musicians I know don't have the technical chops to set up Linux on their own and run Jamulus with their own DAW; however, there is this one cat I know who plays keys😄 I'm sorry... I just couldn't resist that one.
To wrap all this up, if you can't or don't want to sign up for a premium account with JamKazam, they want you to keep your "free" access with the hope you'll opt for a premium account eventually. Oh, they also offer a 30-day free trial for their premium plans for us free users.
For those who did not receive the original JamKazam e-mail on 12/03/2020, and want to read it, check out their verbatim message below:
Hello User -
We are writing to let you know that we have begun the process of transitioning to a model that includes both free and premium monthly subscription plans. This subscription model takes effect January 1, 2021, and we believe this represents the right path to best serve the JamKazam community over time. We’ll describe the basics of these plans in this email, and also explain why we need to add premium plans. This email is pretty long, but we felt the length was needed to communicate as transparently and completely as we can with our community – because we know this is an important transition point for all of us – both the small JamKazam team and all of our users.
What Are The Free & Premium Subscription Plans?
Under the new subscription structure, there is a Free plan, and there are Silver, Gold, and Platinum premium plans. There is also a free trial period for new (and existing) users. Basic descriptions of these plans are summarized below. For more information on the different plans, please click here for a help article that describes the plans in greater detail.
Free Trial (New & Existing Users) – Going forward, new users will get a 30-day free trial period in which they have access to Gold premium plan features, starting at their signup date. For all of our existing users, we are giving you the Platinum premium plan features free for the rest of the month of December, and the new premium plans and features will take effect on January 1, 2021.
Free Plan – Anyone can continue to use JamKazam free of charge starting on January 1st , but with some constraints. Free plan users will be limited to a 1-hour maximum session length, a total of 4 hours of session time per month, and a max of 4 players per session. The Free plan does not include access to recording, broadcasting, or video features, and limits audio stream quality to 128kbps per stream. This plan does not include use of our proprietary mesh network for lower Internet latency. This plan may not be used to either teach or take music lessons. And this plan does not include support, other than access to our published help articles in the knowledge base.
Silver Plan ($4.99/mo) – As compared to the Free plan, this plan increases monthly max play time to 10 hours, with no limits on individual session length, and also increases session size to a max of 6 players. It upgrades audio stream quality to 192kbps, adds video features (low resolution), and adds broadcasting features for free broadcasts only. And this plan adds access to JamKazam’s mesh network for Internet acceleration and lower Internet latency.
Gold Plan ($9.99/mo) – As compared to the Silver plan, this plan eliminates all play time restrictions, so play time and session size are both unlimited. It upgrades audio stream quality to 256kbps, upgrades video resolution to 720p, adds recording features, and allows users to take (but not teach) music lessons in sessions. This plan adds helpdesk support, so that if you are having a problem, you can open a case/ticket in our helpdesk, and JamKazam staff will provide 1:1 help via email and/or chat.
Platinum Plan ($19.99/mo) – As compared to the Gold plan, this plan upgrades audio stream quality to 512kbps, upgrades video resolution to 1080p, allows busking for tips in broadcast session performances, and allows teaching of music lessons in JamKazam sessions.
Outside of these premium subscription plans, our JamTracks continue to be sold separately at the same pricing. And if you want to use JamKazam to broadcast premium ticketed concerts, you’ll need to contact JamKazam here to gain licensing permission to do so.
Why Do We Need To Start Charging For The Service?
The simple answer to this question is that if the JamKazam community wants the JamKazam platform – or frankly any online music performance platform – to exist and to fulfill the promise of this idea – to make latency even lower, to deliver mind-blowing new features, to be reliable with few bugs, to offer support, and to make online music performance amazing – it takes money to do these things. JamKazam has been free to use for several years now and has reached a point where we believe there is enough merit and promise to justify asking our community to invest along with us in making JamKazam “real”.
If you contributed to our GoFundMe campaign, we thank you very sincerely for your support. Zero of this money went into our pockets personally. We’ve been investing these funds into the JamKazam platform – deploying a worldwide accelerated Internet mesh network to increase connectivity success rates and reduce latency in sessions and more. But to put the roughly $100,000 from GoFundMe in perspective, it’s difficult to hire a single talented senior software engineer for that money in today’s world. Obviously, a single engineer is not going to get the job done, and that’s not even addressing the operating costs of a business like this one – e.g. servers, bandwidth, etc.
Again, if you all want a service like this one to exist and to be great, it requires money. We considered an advertising-based model, but for this kind of business, that model won’t work. We’ve done our best to design premium plans to make JamKazam affordable and accessible to as many musicians as possible, while also starting to generate revenues that we can invest back into making the service better.
What If You’ve Already Contributed Financially?
If you contributed to our GoFundMe campaign, again we thank you so much for your support. If you are OK with having helped on the GoFundMe while also purchasing a premium monthly subscription going forward, we would appreciate your continued support. If you contributed $50 or more to our GoFundMe and feel like you should not have to pay monthly subscription fees so close to the time you made this contribution, then please drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org, and please include your name, email address, the amount, and the approximate date you made your contribution. We will talk with you and do our best to work something out that feels fair to you.
As of today, all existing JamKazam users are automatically assigned to the Free plan, but everyone also has free use of the Platinum premium plan features for the rest of the month of December. You don’t need to enter payment information or do anything else for the Free plan to take effect on January 1st.
If you would like to sign up for a premium plan, please click this link to go to the JamKazam website and select the plan that is right for you. Even if you choose your plan now, the free Platinum plan will remain in effect for the rest of December, and you will not be charged for your subscription until January. If you don’t have a credit card on file with JamKazam, please click this link to provide your payment information. Note that JamKazam does not see or save your credit card information – that data is handled exclusively by Recurly, which is an industry-leading payment processing company that meets the strictest standards for data security.
So, if you missed my initial or the follow-up weekly blog posts about JamKazam, you can find all of them here by searching for "JamKazam". As always, special thanks to Magic Ray, all my local DMV musician buddies, and drummers from everywhere for hanging in there and helping to share info about playing music. My email address is below if you ever want to send me a note or have any questions.