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Open, democratic, and equitable. Ampled has chosen to be a cooperative as a social contract with artists and workers alike - to serve members, not profit. For us, cooperation doesn’t mean playing nice, or sitting in circles and only making consensus-based decisions. It means that we take our commitment to aligning the interests of artists, workers, and the organization at large seriously - and embedded it within our corporate structure.
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. Ampled is an artist and worker-owned alternative to rent-seeking and extractive intermediaries.
Ampled is 100% owned, controlled, and governed by its artists, workers, and community - not venture capital investors. There is no outside ownership of Ampled. We own it!
Our governance structure is democratic. This allows artists and workers have codified power at the highest levels of strategic decision making and for day-to-day operational decisions to be made on an empowered or representative basis.
Membership Dues are decided collectively and a Board of Directors with artist and worker representation has power to select and determine compensation for leadership.
Ampled is a multi-stakeholder cooperative organized as a member-managed LLC in the New York State. Our bylaws are our governing operating agreement, which function as the constitution for the organization, which can be democratically amended.
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.
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.
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 musicians.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
Artist Someone that has an artist page on Ampled.
Artist-Owner An artist that has achieved enough support to become a Member of the co-op.
Supporter Someone that is supporting (subscribing) to an artist.
Contributor Someone that is a member of the Ampled team helping to build and grow the platform.
Worker-Owner A contributor that has worked on Ampled enough to meet the threshold of becoming a Member of the co-op.