NOTE: This post does not necessarily reflect the views of the Choon team. I have received no payment or other favor from Choon, and I am merely a user/artist of the platform.
So you may have seen the increasing hype about the new blockchain-based streaming platform called Choon. Either from me, from Choon themselves, or from other people. Or you might not have heard about it at all yet. Regardless of your previous knowledge about Choon, I will clarify why I believe so much in it below.
What and who
Choon was founded by the quite famous trance DJ and crypto enthusiast Gareth Emery. He didn’t just want to make a music startup with Choon. He wanted to change the music industry. As most music startups usually end up being owned by one of the 3 labels that are already controlling more than 67% of the ENTIRE music industry, they knew they had to do it differently.
I’m not going to describe all the founders in this post, but they have an incredible team.
There are numerous stakeholders in the music business. Still. Even though most of them are hardly needed any more. Back in the day, you needed a studio to produce music, which was usually offered by the label. Now, all you need is a laptop and a headset. So the job of the label is currently only marketing and distribution. Aside from this, you also have royalty-collecting societies that often claim the rights to all of your music and collect royalties on your behalf.
With Choon, they wanted to rethink the whole music industry in light of the dramatic changes over the last 10–20 years. If we were to rebuild the whole music ecosystem today, what would it look like?
This is where it gets interesting. The features already implemented, and those slated to come. I will highlight a few of the most notable ones here. What they do, why it matters, and why I love it.
- Daily payments
Something as simple as having daily payouts will already make a dramatic change from the current system. Getting paid from Spotify can take as much as 6 months to 2 years from the day a stream happens. Think about this for a second. —Would you take that new job if you had to work there for 6 months before getting your first paycheck? Hardly. Unless it paid you very generously. Which it doesn’t.
- 80% of revenues goes to artists, with no middlemen
This is a biggie. 80% of the streaming revenue goes straight from listener to artist. No labels. No management. No lawyers. No bullshit. They might even be open to decreasing their platform cut in the long run once they have a big enough market share. But taking 20% in the early days will help them get revenue to grow in this very competitive market. —For comparison, Spotify takes a 30% platform cut, so 20% is not much at all.
- 60/40 spilt of streaming income
This might seem insignificant to some, but is a major game-changer for smaller artists. Most streaming platforms in the current system have a flat fee that is often unknown as well. The only ones benefitting from a flat rate are the mainstream artists and their labels.
On Spotify, if you have 10,000 super loyal fans, listening to your music 10% of all their streaming time, you will still only get a few cents per play. But let’s take Tidal as an example because they wanted to “change the way artists gets paid”, kicked off with the most cringe-worthy video I have ever seen. They reportedly pay $0.01284 per stream.
In our example, let’s say you have an album of 10 tracks. 1000 people would play only this album in their month of streaming, which would result in 1000x$0.01284x10 = $128.40.While they are paying $10 each in subscription fees. So Tidal is getting $100.000 in revenues from your fans, they play your music 10% of the time, and you end up with $128.40. Hardly even a noticeable side income, and most likely a loss for you if you subtract all the promotions you need to do to get 10,000 real fans.
Now, let’s take the same example with Choon’s 60/40:
If a subscription costs $10 there as well, 20% goes to Choon, so there’s $8 left in royalties. The 60% that goes to artists streamed will be $4.80. Multiply this by 1000, and you’ll end up with $4800/mo, paid out in daily chunks. Now that’s a living! And we haven’t even counted the other 40% coming from the shared pool, nor the streaming as mining for the first 10 years.
In the current calculation, the royalties paid from Choon will be 37.5 times higher than what you would get from the exact same number of streams on Tidal. (4800/128) Again, this is the lowest number the artist would be paid, as it doesn’t include the remaining 40% from the shared revenue pool.
- Incentivized playlists — Playlist curators get a percentage of the royalties streamed
Another thing I am incredibly excited about. Playlist curators are working hard to find tracks, and it takes a lot of time. Now they can finally get rewarded for their efforts. For me as an artist, it means I will make *X% less from a stream I would otherwise not have received. Which is peanuts compared to alternative marketing channels that most often turn into a loss when it comes to streaming due to the low payouts.
The effect of this will be an increased focus on quality music. As artists can focus less on marketing, and more on producing quality music with features like this. And the curators getting rewarded will look long and deep for music, further supporting the small artists consistently making quality music. So in the long run, this will result in higher payouts for artists, more quality music available, and a lot of great playlist curators.
*The rates are set by the artists, but defaults to 5%. It can be turned off, or artists can even give away 100% if they want to.
- Streaming as mining
Simply put, this is the most brilliant growth incentive I have ever seen. 50% of the total supply of the NOTES token, will be given out to artists over the course of 10 years. Where the majority will be given out in the first 5. This means 375,000 NOTES are given out to artists every single day, based on their % of the daily streams. If there are 10,000 streams on the platform one day and you get 1% of them (100 streams), you will get paid 3750 NOTES that day.
The reason they call this “Streaming as mining” is because it relates to normal crypto mining in the sense that it gets harder and harder due to competition, while they also increase in value. Right now you might get 15–50 NOTES per stream, but in a year from now you might get 1. Or even 0.1 as the streams pick up, and more artists join.
- Smart Music Contracts
Another of my favorite things on Choon. The royalty distribution of a track is handled by a smart music contract. When an artist uploads a track, they set the royalty split here. Once. And it takes care of the rest. If you need to split with a singer, producer and composer for example, you just set their % when you upload the track, and it’s there. Nothing more you need to do. Every rights holder will get paid every single day on autopilot (if there are streams).
And this also opens up a lot of other interesting use cases in the future. What if you want to give some of your royalties to a charity for instance? Well you can! Directly even. Transparently too, thanks to the blockchain. Everyone can see the contract. This can also be used to pay your designer, mastering engineer, promoter, mentor, and other services you might require, with no upfront investment.
- DJ Mixes with royalty payments
Say whaaaaaat?! Yes. It will be a thing. Composers getting featured in a DJ mix will now also earn their rightful royalty cut from within the mix. And the DJ will get their curator’s cut as well. Think about the massive amount of tracks currently getting played from mixes. All the producers currently get is their name in the track list. If they’re lucky. And many DJs even have their mixes up for free download. With DJ mixes on Choon, this will all change, and it makes me incredibly excited. This function is scheduled to be released in May 2019 according to their roadmap.
- Remix support for smart music contracts
The days of creating remixes for free for promotional purposes only might be over! Around August 2019, we can expect support for smart remix contracts. Composers will be able to upload their stems, and pre-determine the royalty distribution for their remixes. It will open for a lot of interesting collaborations, and make sure everyone gets paid their fair share. I even got my first ever remix made through Choon already, and I am incredibly happy with it. (Deep/Progressive House)
- “This content is not available in your region”
Ever seen this message before after clicking a Youtube video? Not on Choon! The internet is global, and so is Choon. Independent artists who own all their music ensures that listening to music is available for anyone around the world, by the same terms. What makes listening to a song in Germany different from listening to the same song in India? Nothing. If you go to the same link, playing the same song, your nationality shouldn’t matter.
I usually go full-force when explaining Choon to people, often leading to some healthy skepticism. When explaining that playlist curators get a share of the royalties, that the token value has price increases “built-in”, and that you get less and less tokens per stream, makes some people compare it with a pyramid scheme. Which is understandable to some extent, but also quite wrongfully so.
There are no referral bonuses giving you x% of what your referrals make 3 tiers deep. You don’t have to invite a single user to be a part of this. The % cut to playlist curators works just like any other business collaboration. Just like travel agents and booking engines get a (quite large) percentage of their bookings as commission from the hotels and airlines. This is nothing new, it’s a proven model that only pays for actual value created. No risk for any parties involved. It can be a great model, and it has finally hit the music industry.
And the whole part about streaming as mining might be odd to some. This is more understandable. If we look at the entire value chain, the value will become artificially high in the short term, compared to the value actually created. Making it seem a bit like some sort of scheme. But the good news is that there is an actual end-game to all this. Payments. In the end, as the platform expands and users start paying, the currency will stabilize itself, mitigating the somewhat artificial value from the early days. If we completely remove the whole speculative nature of crypto and just think about Choon in 5 years, my payment example above will be just as relevant as today. Getting 10,000 followers who play your music 10% of the time is hard, but doable. And it will make you a comfortable living on Choon, as opposed to the $150 you’ll get in the legacy streaming eco-system.
This last part here is what explains the “sounds too good to be true, but actually is true” kind of attitude towards Choon. They have an extremely incentivized machine for growth, making the artists do their very best to constantly attract listeners to the platform. Which is also why I believe in it so much. They are attacking the whole music industry head-on, and it will be a tough battle, but mechanisms like this will constantly bring in new users and artists practically for free. And growth will be crucial for them to succeed in the long run.
The value chain
Actual value is something that far too often gets overlooked. On Choon, the value is the amount of time you keep someone engaged. So the real currency is attention. This is what people will have to pay for in the end, just like on other content platforms like Spotify or Netflix. And everything surrounding this or facilitating it, is a part of the value chain. And on Choon, everyone who positively contributes to the platform one way or the other, can get rewarded. Being an early content creator on the platform, I play a big part in the platform’s success. Both from providing content, and for attracting users. And I get rewarded for it.
Playlist curators also do this. They organize all the music in relevant lists that people might enjoy. And they get a cut. Two-way tipping will also be a thing, so artists can even tip fans leaving nice or helpful comments on their tracks. Because it matters so much for artists, much more than most people really know. Some of my biggest motivational boosts in my early days of producing have come from strangers leaving nice comments on my tracks on Soundcloud. One nice comment can make your day, and tipping for it is a great way of showing gratitude.
So all in all, you will either pay a fair amount for access to all the great music, or you can get free access if you help the platform in different ways. It’s a win-win either way.
“Choon is like the fairtrade of the music industry”
And even though people care most about convenience in general, knowing that the artists you really like now gets paid fairly is an added bonus. You are actually supporting their music career, and allowing them to make more and even better music.
I have personally never seen anything like it. I keep on meeting incredible individuals every single day. Well-meaning indie artists who just wants to make music and spread good vibes. It’s almost like everyone I meet are modern-day hippies like myself. It’s just so much love and compassion everywhere. People helping each other out, left and right. And everyone feels so strongly about Choon that they are inviting their other amazing friends and musicians to join. Everyone wants Choon to succeed so badly, because it represents a very real change to the status quo. Where making a consistent side-income from your music is a very real and realistic outcome. Where you can actually make a humble living just from making music, which is what most indie music producers dream of.
And when you have a community like that, it catches on. More and more people are jumping aboard the Choon train every day, and it’s spreading like wildfire — by itself.
Top this off with an experienced team who are hands-on, constantly. Where they listen to their users as best they can in-between their massive workload, where the founders and even Gareth himself jump in and takes action if someone hasn’t been heard in the telegram group. Details like this make you also want the founders to succeed too. They’re the good guys. A tiny detail that proves this is that the current genre playlists are randomized daily to give everyone a chance to get streams, not just the big guys. They are really aiming for a fair system in every way the can.
I just wanted to drop one last point in before we’re closing here. Talking is free, but execution is what matters. Their white paper and roadmap is incredibly well crafted and planned. They obviously have some badass strategists. But more than anything else, they keep on executing well. Consistently, since day one. Remember #metoo? Yeah, me too. They had an advisor on board that turned out to be quite an asshat towards women. As soon as they heard, they kicked him out and removed him from the website. Within less than an hour from it being out. That is decisiveness right there! Possible negative publicity eliminated, and a douchebag thrown out. Heck, I’m even talking about it as a positive event now since it was handled so well.
They also never talk or speculate on the token price. It’s even in their white paper that they never will. And the updates they release are well-written, clear, and well communicated, while setting expectations right.
I agree with practically every single decision they have made so far.
For me personally, Choon represents a drastic change in my music “career”. I have put career in quotes because I still haven’t earned a cent with any of my music outside of Choon. 4 EP’s, and I have no idea what I will get, or when I will get it. I am not blaming the labels in this case, as the labels I have released with so far are quite small “for the love of music” kinds of labels, most likely releasing and promoting my music at a loss as well.
As a comparison to other services, I have had more than 14,000 streams in a month on Choon. vs. less than 6000 in total, while paying for Soundcloud pro for 2 years. And in the end, I care most about getting my music heard.
And on Choon, my music is getting heard AND I’m getting paid. It might mean the shift from being a passionate bedroom producer to becoming a professional. I’m getting my music out there now, and my phone storage is full from all the screenshots of every nice comment I’m getting these days. I’m absolutely loving it.
“What if it fails?”
This question might come up. And there is always a chance it might happen, even though it’s going well right now. It’s crypto after all. But even if Choon itself would fail, there is now a massive, growing community set out to change the industry. The seed has been planted, and it will live on. We have already seen it’s possible with Choon. Artists worldwide are uniting for this cause. It’s becoming a movement more than a streaming service. If something critical would happen to Choon that would somehow end it, another “Choon” will quickly pop up with a fix for whatever ended the first Choon. The change has started, and there is no stopping it now. The music industry itself will be radically different 10 years from now, regardless of what happens with Choon.
With this in mind, I will give Choon everything I’ve got, for as long as I can. And do my absolute best to help out and ensure it’s success.
My artist profile: https://choon.co/artists/kryptokind/
Artist waiting list: https://www.choon.co/about
My other articles about Choon and the Notes token:
P.S. If you liked this post, I would greatly appreciate an upvote, or that you support me by streaming some of my music on Choon. You can find my profile here: Kryptokind on Choon ( #melodictechno + #minimaltechno, #progressivehouse + #deephouse, and more. Some with inspirations from #italo and #psy)
I also have set the playlist split to 50% for all my tracks, allowing you to get 50% of the royalties from any of my songs streamed through your playlist