The upstart social network that aims to give people a paid alternative to Twitter and Facebook's overly commercialized services is becoming cheaper today. App.net founder Dalton Caldwell has announced a drop in the annual member fee from $50 to $36 — which current users will benefit from in the form of extended subscriptions — alongside the introduction of a $5 monthly membership.

Both moves are designed to lower the barrier to entry for people curious to try out App.net, which is available via third-party apps on Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and OS X, plus extensions for the Chrome and Firefox browsers. In announcing the changes, Caldwell notes that App.net is nearing 20,000 registered members, whose contributions have allowed the new pricing model — the original $50 price was determined on the expectation of 10,000 paying users.

While this all sounds encouraging, we shouldn't forget last month's data showing that most of these accounts are sitting docile while the majority of App.net activity is happening within a very small circle of highly active members. If this bold new platform wishes to move beyond the fledging stage of development, it'll need to stimulate people to not just pay for it but actually use it too.