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Hard paywall *and* reminders
by Brian Carroll, 6 years ago
Paywall vs. Bots
by Brian Carroll, 6 years ago
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Release notes
August 14, 2014
August 14, 2014 Release Notes Fixed - The ticket now reflects updated password complexity requirements.  Passwords must have at least 8 characters, one upper-case character, one lower-case character, and one digit. - Trial periods are now better reflected in the … Continued
May 14, 2014
Ooyala An Ooyala integration is now accessible from the Video tab in the paywall dashboard. Documentation can be found here. Downloads For Enterprise customers, Downloads can now be up to 5 GB in size, configurable on a publisher-by-publisher basis. French … Continued
February 24, 2014
February 24, 2014 v5.3.2 New Features Sell Downloads or Provide them to Subscribers Publishers can now upload individual files and present them for sale using the Tinypass API or a simple Sale Page. Advanced Publishers using the Tinypass API can … Continued
December 19th, 2013
Fixes to reporting, no more zip code, and Sandbox password reset

Local readers support local news!

Every day thousands of local news organizations work hard to keep their communities informed, yet funding their operations with advertising alone remains a challenge. Using the Piano platform, many local news sites are now enabling their audiences to financially support them.


Local paid content models

All of the local newspapers included in this case study used Piano to implement a “metered” paywall, which enables publishers to specify a number of free articles over a certain period of time prior to asking readers for payment.

– All of the sites offered monthly subscriptions ranging in price from $4 to $10.
– A majority of sites offered yearly subscriptions ranging in price from $25 to $35.
– A few sites offered one-day access to their entire site for as little as $0.10 to $1.99.

Local papers using Piano grew their revenue from paid content by 21.8% on average over the first nine months of the year.  We attribute this growth to publishers limiting the number of free articles offered, as well as the continued success of higher-priced, yearly subscription sales.


Key success factors

The most successful sites, defined by the highest conversion rates at industry-standard price points, share some key characteristics. By making a few of these adjustments to their sites, local newspaper publishers can have an immediate and direct effect on their paid revenue efforts:


1) Tighter meters

Often, local news sites initially set unnecessarily high counts on their meter.  That is, they give away too many free articles before asking their readers to pay.  Best practices dictate that a site should evaluate a visitor’s average page views to calculate the appropriate number of previews.  Sites that set their meter at single digit free articles, e.g. 5 free articles over 30 days, typically experience conversion rates that average 50% higher than sites giving away ten or more articles each month.


2) Yearly subscription purchases

The number of offers, such as offering day passes, monthly subscriptions, and yearly subscriptions, has a direct, positive impact on conversion rates.  For example, a site might offer $1 for a day, $5 dollars per month, or $50 dollars per year for access to premium articles.  Some papers try to pinpoint one price for their target audience. However a wide selection of varying price points and time periods appeals to readers.

In the case for local news sites, die hard fans willingly pay for yearly recurring subscriptions over $100. This not only helps pad successful paywall launch, it ensures that you’ll have some solid numbers that recur on your one year paywall anniversary!


3) A personal and transparent call to action

Users value content and care about the site they’re supporting, so they want to know that their money will sustain the site’s continued health.  Sites where the solicitations to subscribe come from the primary voice (i.e., the paper’s publisher and/or editor in chief) outperform more generic solicitations. Moreover, users who are presented with frequent communications from that primary voice are less likely to cancel their recurring subscriptions.


Case studies

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The Newspaper of Record for East Hampton New York, The Star has published continuously since 1885 and remains family-owned.  The paper is perhaps best known for its expansive letters to the editor policy which publishes nearly every letter it receives, thus making The Star one of the only newspapers in the nation to do so. Online access to their site is on a “metered” basis in which readers who visit more than eight times a month are asked to subscribe for $25 a year (or $4 for a month) to continue. Those who read fewer than eight stories a month do not have to pay for access.

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 3.47.42 PM

Based in Barnesdall, Oklahoma The Bigheart Times covers Osage County, home to the Osage Nation and surrounding rural communities. Louise Red Corn, a former reporter for the Detroit Free Press, the Lexington Herald-Leader, and other dailies, is the owner and publisher of the paper. They use Piano to sell individual articles or e-editions of stories for 50 cents, and online subscriptions for $10/month.



We believe that small, community-focused sites will continue to follow the lead of larger online publishers in seeking support directly from their readers. The emergence of Piano levels the playing field and enables organizations with limited resources to offer the same sorts of sophisticated site and payment experience as those of The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Local coverage matters and we believe that readers will continue to open their wallets in meaningful numbers, in the process, helping ensure the continued operation of thousands of news.


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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