Cyrptocurrency is the new black, in the sense that all your favorite DJs wanna cover themselves in it. RAC released his latest album using Etherium blockchain. Gramatik recently made himself the first tokenized musician by creating his own cryptocurrency GRMTK. Now, Gareth Emery wants to disrupt the entire music industry with a new publishing and distribution platform he calls Choon.
The English trance DJ is no train jumper. He's been a long-game player in the cryptocurrency market since he first discovered Bitcoin in late 2013.
“I’d bought a house in Los Angeles, and everything was so incredibly long0winded and difficult that I clearly remember thinking that there must be a better way,” he says in an email interview. “A month or two later, Bitcoin came into my life, and it seemed to have the ideas that could eventually solve many problems with our broken financial system.”
At the time, he was procrastinating on his album Drive, doing anything but knocking out the fine-print finishing touches. Soon, he was pouring five to six hours a day into the emerging economy, buying and trading the digital currency, creating offline paper wallets for safe storage and other activities. Drive eventually saw the light of day, and as the years passed without much progress in cryptocurrency security and use, his interest in Bitcoin waned.
His interest returned earlier this year when he heard about Etherium, with its advanced security measures and emerging leadership. It was enough to get him back online and in the trader's seat.
“Many of my college friends went to work at investment banks, and I figured, if my ambition was to sit behind a load of screens and make trades, I might as well have joined Goldman when I left college,” he says. “I realized my passion was building new things, and changing people’s lives for the better, either through music, or in this case, a company. So I got out of the trading game and started to think about where I could make a positive impact instead.”
Six months later, Choon is set for launch in early 2018. He teamed up with his friends and blockchain technologists John Watkinson and Matt Hall to create a platform that gives artists complete control over their product as well as a platform upon which to share that product direct to consumers for proper compensation.
“There’s this common misconception that there’s no money in music, and that the only way you can make a living is touring, but that’s not really correct,” Emery says.” It’s a $16 billion industry. What I realized though, was that the money is going to all the wrong people: intermediaries and middlemen who don’t really need to be there. Choon is our attempt to fix these problems, cut out these people, and provide a much better deal for artists.”
The biggest hurdles so far have been the regulatory and legal aspects involved with selling cryptocurrency tokens, though it's a jungle through which Emery is happy to navigate with patience.
"It’s still very much the wild west of finance,” he says, “but it’s getting better, and we’ve chosen to take the legitimate route: fully complying with all the relevant anti-money-laundering regulations, getting everything checked by lawyers, and that slows you down. But I want to protect us, and everyone who’s going to be involved in this project long-term, so building on a stable foundation is important.”
Fans will be able to purchase music using NOTES, Choon's unique cryptocurrency. NOTES value will fluid and ultimately determined by supply and demand, but at launch, users will be able to buy NOTES for five cents each. Listeners will also have the ability to earn NOTES by creating popular playlists, listening to promoted songs, and by providing useful comments and community feedback.
The music discovery process should run as it does for Soundcloud, Spotify or any other major streaming platform. Just don't expect to find the classics.
“We’re not interested in trying to stream The Beatles, or indeed any music that’s signed into the old legacy system of major labels and publishers,” he says. “These companies are just too difficult to deal with, and would likely force us into deals that would make it hard for us to pay smaller artists fairly. So almost every artist on Choon will be on the newer side, or just happen to own the rights to their old music.”
Similarly, artists may not upload songs that sample major-label artists, though they will be able to sample each other easily using Smart Sample Contracts that make Choon music available to other Choon artists at the price of 50 percent remix profits. It simplifies the ownership process while opening the door to creativity.
It will take time to build the community upon which the Choon ecosystem and economy will run, but that's a feat Emery faces with a sunny disposition.
“I’m not going to claim we’ll have everything perfect on day one, because we won’t,” he says. “A lot of the more advanced functions of the Choon ecosystem will likely take a few years to develop, but they will be worth it when we roll them out.”
Interested in learning more about Choon? Visit the company online and watch the informational breakdown video below. It may just be the future of music, but either way, the era of blockchain technology is here.