WHAT IS A CO-OP?
Fair, creative, and powerful. Ampled has chosen to be a cooperative as a social contract with artists - to be truly accountable to those we seek to serve. For us, cooperation doesn’t mean playing nice, or sitting in a circle making consensus based decisions. It means we take our commitment to artist trust and aligning interests very seriously.
There are several different kinds of cooperatives as references - housing co-ops, food co-ops, worker co-ops, credit unions, and retail consumer co-ops. Functionally, what we aim to do apply the co-op model to the context of a scalable tech-enabled platform. In doing so, we are hoping to build a global, collectively owned enterprise to bring agency and ownership to artists. An intermediary owned by artists.
Why A Co-Op?
A rising tide lifts all boats. When our platform is owned by its users (and not venture capitalists), artist and worker interests are aligned with the company.
Broad-based, Distributed Ownership
Being a cooperative allows Ampled to share ownership not only with its employees, but its users. Our membership is open and voluntary.
Cooperatives can have leaner startup costs, lower chances of failure, are more resilient, have higher levels of productivity, and more. Co-ops have many advantages over a standard corporate structure - there are just more barriers to starting them.
The Platform Economy Isn’t Working For Artists
We are currently living in one of the greatest transfers of wealth in world history. Yet, for the platforms we rely on, the economic rewards disproportionately go to a small group of founders and investors. This leaves content creators of all kinds behind - especially music artists.
Artists are building value in platforms by using them, yet share in little to none of the rewards generated by their participation and do not have a voice in how these companies do business.
Do artists deserve better? We think so.
Historically, Co-ops Have Formed To Address An Unmet Market Need.
Cooperative enterprises have emerged as responses to “missing markets”. In the early 1900’s, American farmers grouped together to power rural America with consumer-owned electricity cooperatives when no existing companies would. Today, Ampled provides a service for artists as a response to failures of industry incumbents to meet artist needs.
Co-ops tend to take hold when the order of things is in flux, when people have to figure out how to do what no one will do for them.
- Nathan Schneider
Co-ops are all around us.
Even if you don’t notice it, cooperatives are all around us. A few names you may recognize are REI, Land O’ Lakes, Cabot, and True Value. Not every co-op you encounter, use, or do business with may announce that they are a co-op.
There is an assumption that cooperatives are smaller or old fashioned enterprises. This isn’t true. There are many co-ops with hundreds of millions - or billions of dollars in revenue each year.
A New Rulebook For Startups
Ampled Is Not For Sale
Startups are obsessed with exits - a liquidity event were founders and investors can cash out. This typically happens when a company is sold to another larger company or goes public. Our goals are different because we don’t intend to sell Ampled. Our goal is to build use-case value for artists rather than liquidity value that investors normally care about. We value autonomy & long term sustainability over the idea of making a handful of people exceedingly wealthy.
Community Ownership, Not Investor Ownership
By default, and for reasons that founders often don’t question, startups traditionally incorporate as a C-Corp. This leads tech companies down a predictable path of selling ownership to investors in exchange for capital.
Where others assume an absence of choice beyond a standard corporate structure, we see an opportunity to ask important questions. What happens when workers or users of a platform own the code? What does technology stewardship look like in practice? What if the platform was actually owned by the people that use it and rely on it, rather than investors?
Real Democracy, Not The Silicon Valley Version
When Silicon Valley talks about democratization, they typically mean “access”, not having control or a voice. When we think about Ampled being democratically controlled, we are thinking of a version of democracy more inline with the view America’s Founding Fathers had.
<something from joseph blasi book>
New Measures Of Success
We have the opportunity to measure our success outside of a wealth-obsessed lens and focus on what is important to us. We can reject win-or-lose models of success, and instead, measure our success based on sustainability, values, and the change we seek to make. Let’s redefine the concept of value together to create a new measure of success.
Are you a music artist?
Are you a responsible music fan interested in joining our co-op?