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Hard paywall *and* reminders
by Brian Carroll, 4 years ago
Paywall vs. Bots
by Brian Carroll, 4 years ago

Piano Paywall

The Piano Paywall is a powerful tool that not only restricts access to your content from users who haven’t paid, but also enables you to change all sorts of aspects of their site experience in order to maximize the effectiveness of your appeal.

The Piano Paywall that can be implemented within our dashboard is a Javascript-based paywall, meaning that the logic that determines whether or not a user has access is executed within the user’s browser. This is a simple-to-implement, highly scalable approach to deploying a paywall, and is by far the most popular method on the Internet. For more information about how Piano’s Javascript implementation works, or to find out about more secure ways to implement Piano, check “Choosing a solution” in this guide.



Your paywall has two modes you can choose from: Previews and no previews . When you create your paywall, it will automatically start out in preview mode, with a few settings pre-filled for your convenience. There are some simple, but powerful differences between the two modes.

Previews — Selecting “Previews” gives you a metered paywall, which provides your users a fixed number of free previews of your content. When your users hit the number of views you’ve specified, the Curtain appears and restricts their viewing until they pay for access.

No previews — With “No previews” turned on, your content is restricted immediately. Users will be required to pay for access the moment they attempt to view your content.

You can toggle between modes at any time. Don’t worry about your settings — they’ll be saved for you no matter what mode you’re in.

If you have chosen “Previews,” here’s where you will set the number of free views your users will be allowed to see before they are presented with the Curtain, and how often their free view number will reset.

Checking “Only track unique page visits” allows users to the same page more than once, yet only have that page counted once against their allotted number of free views.

Checking “Don’t track users coming directly from external sites” will make it so that users who link in from external URLs – if someone had emailed them a link, or they followed one from a search engine, for example – will not have that page view count against their allotted number of free views. Sites choose this option to encourage other sites to link to their content, safe in the knowledge that all users following that link will have access to the page.

At the bottom of the page, you will see “Always exclude these URLs” and “Always include these URLs.” These options enable you to include Piano’ embed code on every one of your pages, but selectively exclude some from your paywall, or choose certain pages that will always show the paywall.

You just specify the URL based on the URL you have set at the top: so if your domain is <>, and you want to leave your home page ( outside the paywall, you would just type “home.html” in this box. If you would like to exclude (or include) your homepage, just add a “/”.

If you want to exclude more pages, just use the “+” icon on the right to add more to the list. You can also use wildcards in the excluding URL section to save time!


The Price Editor

Piano allows you to set a variety of price options with a simple, powerful editor.

You can specify one, two, or three different price options for your content.

Later on, in the “Reminder” and/or “Curtain” areas, you will be able to specify how these prices appear to your users. For now, let’s just worry about how to set your prices.

Clicking on the price tag or pencil icon will enable you to set the price option; the trash icon will delete that price option. Go ahead and click the pencil to customize your prices.

You can choose between a subscription with recurring billing, or a fixed time option.

How you set your prices and their time periods is entirely up to you. “Subscription” prices will automatically renew either monthly, quarterly, or yearly, depending on your choice in the “Type of subscription” box. “Fixed time” price options do not automatically renew once the access period has expired.

“Add a trial period to this subscription” lets your users pay a discounted amount or try your service free for whatever time you specify. They will be automatically charged after the trial period ends.

“Allow users to pay more than the price I’ve set” presents your users with a box in which they can enter their own price, but will reject anything they enter that is lower than the price you have specified. (Use this option when you want to set a relatively low price, but you think some users might value you more highly – our customers have often been pleasantly surprised by the results!)

Interested in displaying price options in a foreign currency? Check out this note first.


The images you enter here will appear in your purchase process, and throughout various screens and/or emails where your brand is featured – in purchase receipts, for example, or when users gift your content to each other.

The two images are your “offer image” and your “ticket image.” The offer image pertains to this particular offer, whereas the “ticket image” is about your overall brand or company. In other words, you might use “South Park Studios” as your ticket image, and “Full Episodes On Demand” as your offer image.

The offer image dimensions should be 400 x 400, and the ticket image should be 200 x 75.


The Curtain

The Curtain pane enables you to customize the experience your users will have when their access to content is restricted. (There is no Curtain editor in Piano Applause, as users’ access to content is never restricted, instead it is called ‘the Reminder’.) You can choose from a “Basic” or “Advanced” Curtain structure.

By using the “Basic” version, you can customize the wording and the primary image on your Curtain. If you choose the “Advanced” version, you can use your own HTML and make the curtain look almost any way you wish. Regardless of your choice, you will see whatever prices you set in the “Basics” tab appear here.

Be careful with the final option, “Allow my users to close the paywall curtain after it appears.” When checked, this option will allow users to dismiss the Curtain lightbox and continue to access your content. In most cases, you do not want your users to be able to close the Curtain, as it defeats the purpose of the paywall. This option is a special-use function we have for clients who are using Javascript callbacks to obscure their page content in additional ways beyond just displaying the Curtain.

An example of a customized “Basic” Curtain.

 An example of a customized "Basic" curtain.


The Counter

The Counter is available only with sites using Previews, and is a tool for giving your users a subtle reminder that they have a limited free preview period. For Piano Paywall – the Counter counts down, indicating how many pages the user has left. For Applause – It counts up, to remind users how much of your content they are enjoying.

You do not have to use a Counter at all, but if you do, you can customize our template by selecting “Basic.” If you have a Reminder set up, when users click on the counter, they will see your Reminder and be prompted to support you.

A counter can encourage lots of people to contribute before they ever hit a paywall.

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 9.33.01 AM

The Reminder

The Reminder is for paywalls with Previews. It is a lightbox pop-up, just like the Curtain, but it is designed to pop up periodically and be dismissible. It is for when you want an interruptive reminder that users ought to think about supporting you, but you are not quite ready to restrict their access.

As an example, if you are giving your users twelve free views per month so as to only monetize your heaviest users, you can set a Reminder to pop up on every third view to remind the more casual ones to support you along the way.

Its configuration works exactly in the same way as the Curtain, discussed earlier in this page.



Dynamics are a simple way to change the appearance and experience of your website for your users, depending on the state of access the user has at the moment.

For example, you could render a special promotional banner that only appears for users still in the metered preview period. Or, you could add a ‘members’ badge to your navigation for users who are subscribed to your content.

Simply add the HTML elements you’d like to affect (by ID or class), and Dynamics will add a unique class selector to them depending on the state. You can customize these selectors by CSS, or even manipulate them with Javascript.

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 9.09.19 PM



The last tab on your Piano paywall dashboard provides you with a gifting URL that you can share with your users. Click on the URL to see your gifting landing page. Keep in mind, that you can allow any of your offers to be given as a gift while using Paywall. In order to select which offers can be given as gifts, head back to the “Basics” tab and open your price editor. For more information, check out the Gifting documentation post here.

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Welcome to Piano!

We're happy you found us! You may already be using Piano, or just starting to learn about it. Either way, we're excited to see you here. We love valuable content as much as you do - that's why we work day and night to make sure you can support your content business with beautiful and simple software tools.

Who are we?

Piano is a dedicated and professional organization comprised of professionals from journalism, advertising, design, and banking. We came together because we believe that in this digital world there should be more than one bookstore, more than one music store, and more than one video store. We are based in New York, and love to hear from our customers in person or on the phone.

What we offer

Piano is a flexible platform that can help you with things like raising money for charity, selling a web series, or creating a payment solution like the New York Times. Chances are, if you have a website, and you are trying to make money from it, Piano has a solution for you. Want to find the right product for you? Visit our Choosing a Solution page.

In addition to these software products, Piano offers you AND your users outstanding customer support from our New York office. We care about you and our product, if you ever have a suggestion or a problem, just email or give us a call at +1 646-350-1999 and dial 0 for "Human Being."

The first step - signing up

Signing up for a publisher account is FREE and you are not committed to ANYTHING. If you are deciding between software products other than Piano, we encourage you to just type in a few things and sign up for an account so that you can poke around the publisher dashboard. Seriously... just sign up for an account. It's free, and you'll like what you see:

When you sign up for an account, you'll automatically be in trial mode. After you update your business information, then you can submit your application for review. It usually takes us less than 24 hours to approve/deny an application. For more information about our approval process, check out the Registration & Application section.

Getting paid

Thirty days after a transaction takes place, you can withdraw the money. We have this waiting period to protect you (and us) from dealing with refunds, chargebacks, and business disasters. You can get paid by check, direct deposit wire transfer, DWOLLA, or Paypal.

How does Piano make money?

"Wait, is it actually free?" Well obviously it's not free. We take a percentage of each transaction to cover payment processing fees. Please contact for our fees. You may find yourself thinking I could be charged directly by the payment provider if I used Stripe or PayPal..."  But unlike those payment gateways, we let you control access to content, customize site experiences, set business rules, manage user accounts, view analytics, and provide end-user customer service.

Enterprise clients

Piano offers professional services and enterprise pricing to clients that meet a certain threshold. You know who you are, and if you are interested in talking to our enterprise sales team, just call +1646-350-1999 and press 1 for sales. In addition to our software, we also offer consulting services that we like to call Content Monetization Planning.



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