We Spoke With Gareth Emery About the Future of Music Streaming [INTERVIEW]
After spending a good chunk of his life working as a producer and touring DJ, it’s fair to say that Choon founder Gareth Emery has seen the good and bad sides of what the industry has to offer. Alongside the other founders John Watkinson, Bjorn Niclas and Matt Hall, Emery has created a new and futuristic streaming platform made by artists, for artists.
The new startup will be launching next year, attempting to tackle many of the problems that artists face on a daily basis with the current streaming services. I think this is a very important topic for the future music producers who are starting their careers from nothing.I had the chance to talk with Gareth about the past of the music industry, current issues of the today's streaming services, crypto currencies and much more. Check it out below!
So let’s start with the basics, what drove your initial interest into the cryptocurrency world?
Well I actually bought my first Bitcoin in the year of 2013. I saw all of the problems facing our current financial system, I was actually trying to get mortgage for a home in the US and dealing with that process made me think about how the use of cryptocurrencies could really help to reshape the way we do business in the world. Funny enough, I actually ended up losing around 70% of my initial investment on Bitcoin. After that I kept my distance from the crypto world until Ethereum caught my interest this year. For me, Ethereum represented all of the opportunities that Bitcoin had lost. It was faster, more efficient, and was overall a much more versatile crypto than Bitcoin will ever be.
A lot of artists feel that they are being exploited by the current streaming services that they are forced to use in order to have their music heard, would you agree with that statement?
Definitely, there’s this common misconception that there is no money to be made off of releasing music anymore which is just not correct. It’s not really me that I’m doing this for, I’m able to make a great living traveling around the world touring and playing shows but that lifestyle can take its toll over the years.
First off, you don’t start off your musical career as a touring artist. Getting to a point where you can live off of your earnings can take years and only a certain type of person to lead that lifestyle as a career.
What is really sad to me is that we have lost so many great producers over the years because of the fact that they aren’t able to make money solely off of selling their own music. These guys then start ghost producing for big-name artists, teaching or go into film because they feel that there isn’t enough money to be made off of selling/streaming their own music.
Many music producers would love to be at a level where a sustainable income could be made off of music sales but it seems that is no longer a possibility. You’ve been around the industry a lot longer than I have, would you say that this is a recent issue that artists face with the emergence of technology?
When I first started out, there was still really good money to be made in music sales. Whether that was selling your own vinyls or compilation CDs. I knew a lot of music producers who made hundreds of thousands of dollars solely off of selling their own music. In fact, they kind of used to laugh at the DJs who spent all their time on the road. Why would you spend your time away from home when you could make great money just from making and selling your own music.
When did you start to realize that there was a big problem with today’s streaming companies?
I didn’t realize how bad all of these streaming services were until I started looking at their profit statements. For example, let's look at Soundcloud. It gets less and less profitable every single year. I’ve gotten nearly 20 million streams on Soundcloud and have not seen a single cent of it.
So where is all of this money going?
As I started to look deeper into this issue, I started to realize that with streaming services we’re forced to do these terrible deals with major record labels and publishers to have the ability to put music from an old artist such as Elvis on their platform. These deals don’t just screw over the streaming services themselves, but also everyone else who releases their music on them as well. These are done to support the major labels and their artists, definitely not looking out for independent artists or artists in the electronic music community.Major labels then negotiated to become shareholders in a company such a Spotify, essentially giving away shares to the very people that they should have been disrupting and displacing in the first place.
Major labels and publishers have done a very good job at making sure that they are still middlemen in the process of music distribution but the truth is no one needs major labels anymore.
So with Choon how will a lot of the problems that artists face be solved?
First let's start off with how artists are paid. With Spotify, first the money goes to the artist's label then from the label it gets distributed to the artists. This whole process can take months or even years, it just isn’t efficient given the technology that cryptocurrency gives us. We want to give artists 80% of the revenue they earn off their music while we keep 20% for maintenance costs and such. A fraction of what many of the other current streaming services take.
With Choon, artists will be paid instantly in the form of NOTE coin which will be available for purchase on the crypto market in the very near future.
Our target audience isn’t people who have signed away their rights to a label. We want people who own 100% of their music to come to our platform and really be able to benefit off of the service that we have to offer.
Just as Soundcloud has become the birthplace of many great careers, we want Choon to follow the same model but while compensating artists for their hard work as well.
How does Choon really differ from a platform such as Soundcloud?
One of the coolest parts about Choon is that through the Ethereum blockchain, we can incorporate what we like to call smart record contracts into our service. For example, let’s say that there are three people who work on a song. One person owns 60% and the other two own 20%. Right now it would take months for them to receive their payment, and with multiple parties involved, things can often times get complicated. When a song with multiple contributors is uploaded to Choon the contact is made and assuming that people are listening to it, revenue distributions for the track will be made on a daily basis.
With Choon, your payment in NOTE coin will be distributed evenly to each participating member instantly. With this, we avoid a lot of the conflict that comes when it's time to split up revenue amongst artists.
These contracts can also be applied to remixing a track as well. We all know that on Soundcloud, remixing can be a real pain. They often times get taken down, original artists don’t get their cut, and even if it does get cleared, there’s a good chance the remixer won’t make much off of it. With Choon, an artist can decide right when they post a track, if they would like to make the song available to remix and what revenue percentage they’d take from the remixer. The Ethereum network then distributes NOTE coin to the remixer and original artist evenly so it is fair for both parties.
Wow that’s pretty amazing, it’s strange to think that one application can solve so many problems.
Ya it really is hard to grasp all of the ways that Choon can help artists. I also really don’t like how Spotify doesn’t compensate their playlist curators. A select few people make these amazing playlists and never really get any credit for it.
Personally, I think that’s a real shame. If a person builds a playlist and it ends up getting hundreds of thousands of followers, that person should most definitely receive compensation for it. With Choon we want to change that by implementing a way for curators to receive NOTE coin for the plays they get off of their playlists.
So how does Choon decide how many NOTE coins someone will receive?
Well in total, there are only going to be 80 million NOTE coins in existence. For the first five years of Choon, we will be giving out half of those NOTE coins to the users who receive the most plays on their songs on a daily basis. There will be around 22,000 NOTE coins given out on any single day and will be disrupted by whoever got the most streams on their tracks on that day. For example, if there’s only 3 people in the early stages of Choon, all of those people will probably receive around 7,000 coins a day.
Initially these coins will not be worth too much as all crypto currencies aren’t in their early stages, but as the application grows the price of the coin will become more valuable. The NOTEs will become harder and harder to earn when we get to the point where a million different artists are having their songs played on Choon on a single day. With more artists releasing their music on Choon, the price of the coin will go up as well. The sooner you hop on board, the better.
It’s fair to say that Choon has a bright future ahead of itself all while keeping the artist's best interests in mind. This is the future of music streaming, hop on board before you’re too late to the party!
If you’re interested in joining the crypto-music streaming revolution being led by Choon, follow the link to pre-register!
Cover photo courtesy of Sergei Zarovny