Since the beginning of time, musicians have been looking to monetize their work, and getting paid for doing what you love is the ideal dream we all strive for, but with musicians and songwriters, this dream can be harder than most. This is because, in today’s digital world, you’re not just competing with others from neighboring cities or states, you’re competing with people from around the globe. Similarly, ever since artists have tried monetizing their work, there have been people attempting to give them the royal screw job by shaving fractions of a cent off the artist and into their own pockets with “services” and “fees” until the point is reached where the artists’ margins become razor-thin.
In today’s digital world, though, how should artists try to earn revenue from their work? Sure, you have your traditional record labels, but what about for the other 95% of us who aren’t lucky enough to sign on the dotted line and have a corporate army on standby to support and raise the exposure of your music to the masses? This is important because as artists know, making music can be a costly investment, and for those who are grinding it out week after week making their dream come true, figuring out how to put some cash back in the wallet can mean the difference between chasing your dream or packing it up for good.
Since May 2018, Choon has prided itself on being a block chained crypto music service that was supposed to offer artists a way of getting paid for their work at a better rate than they would find from services such as Spotify, Apple, YouTube, etc. While it sounded all “high techy” and beautiful on the outside, the premise of this service was both uncertain and unstable. This is because cryptocurrency is far from a stable currency to trade as compared to other forms such as the Dollar, Pound, Yen, and so on. One reason is that the market itself is being formed. I’m guessing if you talked to someone when the United States Stock Exchange opened on the first day, and said to them, “Give me your money, and I’ll give you this piece of paper saying you are .001% owner of this company, and as the stock goes up, you make more money,” you wouldn’t secure many people. My how times have changed. Sort of.
The cryptocurrency market has no real established value, so to see dramatic fluctuations in value is not an unrealistic prediction to guard against. But, what protection is there for the artist who slaved away at their track for hours, days, and even months at a time trying to perfect every note, beat, and chord only to find that Choon has implemented a cryptocurrency they call NOTES, and this is how you will be paid? Now, this all sounds nice that you’ll be paid in cryptocurrency, but what happens if that value goes down? That question just got answered.
For starters, paying a monthly or even yearly subscription fee for any other service can provide a far more stable financial platform for the artists, and this uncertainty caused Choon’s NOTE to become near worthless. Think of this as a massive crash of your entire economic structure. Let me put it to you this way: let’s say you have $50, and you want to buy groceries. That $50 allows you to buy a certain number of items, but what if that $50 got devalued to the point where you could only buy $5 worth of products? That is what is happening with Choon. Artists are finding their NOTES becoming hugely devalued, and this uncertainty also caused backers to naturally pull any/all funding. This is what we would consider in the business world, the end.
Desperate for new investors, Choon looked high and low, but it would be hard to find people to sink millions on an unproven gamble. Now enter Emanate, a more reputable service with a little stronger EMT cryptocurrency, who has offered to provide an outlet for these artists to be instantly paid.
Let’s say you’re asleep and 1,000 people want to use your sample or track, you get paid instantly for that, and when you wake up, congratulations as your amount of EMT has grown. Now, EMT is traded in more places than NOTES were, so there is some comfort in that. But, while this may look like a saving grace, some details make the future look very uncertain.
Some of this uncertainty stems from the lack of uniformity amongst the cryptocurrencies. For example, Emanate uses an EOS type blockchain for its tokens, while Choon used a version called Ethereum. Sadly, these don’t communicate well with each other, so now you will need a different wallet to begin the complicated transfer process. On top of that, Emanate’s own Terms of Service (ToS) should have red flags flapping in the wind. For example, Emanate’s ToS says:
“Payment rates for content varies frequently due to the algorithms employed to handle payments. We do not guarantee any minimum level of payment (either at a unit rate or overall). We are not responsible for promoting your content, that – and the number of listens you receive – is up to you.”
Notice how there is no guarantee, which also means that should the currency value decrease, so will the value of what is paid to you. Speaking of value, CEO of Choon, Bjorn Niclas said in his official statement:
“Details of our partnership are still being finalized, and many of you will be happy to know that Emanate will honor the value of the artist-earned NOTES tokens at recently traded prices, traded into EMT.”
However, depending on what exchange you’re looking at, you’ll get different evaluations and amounts of transfers. Yet, we see no clue as to what exchange will be used, so there’s no clue what “recently traded prices, traded into EMT” means in regards to worth. There are other bad omens with this as well. Emanate has laid out some pretty interesting verbiage regarding those with NOTES. According to their statement, they said:
“Choon artists who held NOTES before the site closed will be given a token swap offer to help bring them onto Emanate. To be fair to Emanate token holders and encourage the EMT token economy, this won’t be a simple handout. Choon artists will need to hold EMT to get started and/or sign-up for a Pro-connect subscription. This incentive to get involved in Emanate will help boost the EMT token economy and platform play volume for the benefit of all holders and artists.”
Ultimately, what this boils down to is Emanate’s attempt to establish a financial value for EMT. It should also be noted that this news is in the Alpha stages so that details can fluctuate daily (kind of like the EMT valuation). Also, it is worth mentioning that this may be a disingenuous way to artificially inflate your cryptocurrency to appear larger than you really are.
For example, let’s say Emanate has 10,000 users, and Choon has 15,000. Choon goes under, and Emanate acquires them. Now, Emanate can go to investors and say, “Look, we have 25,000 artist accounts now. Invest in us!” Such practices have been around for centuries and are a misleading way to do business because the ones who suffer are those artists who have NOTES and would like to see some revenue from their work. Sadly, for Choon artists, the choice you would now have is to leave your NOTES behind and just walk away now, or wait to convert them to EMT cryptocurrency and pray during the time that you “must hold,” the investors don’t sell-off at the inflated price leaving you again, with nothing.
This blockchain music service reminds me of an evolution of the old Columbia House CD program, where you would get 10 CDs for a penny but automatically enrolled in a subscription for $40/mo and became next to impossible to cancel. While you may see catchy phrases such as, “artists are immediately paid,” those who issue the EMT tokens are the ones making the real money. And, with temporary artificial inflation of the EMT cryptocurrency, there should be loud sirens ringing your ears.
Again, the eagerness to be paid is an issue, but the bigger problem is how to get the artists paid more for their work. And, while Spotify, Apple, and YouTube pay their artists very little, right now, that evaluation is worth more than $0, which is more than when you’re talking the value of an unstable and uncertain cryptocurrency.
Edit: Since publishing, Emanate has reached out to Trance Farm to offer this video and statement:
Hello fellow musicians and music lovers!
We all understand the Choon journey has come to an abrupt end and there are a lot of questions. Please understand first and foremost that Emanate has not purchased Choon, there is no contract or corporate deal in place. Emanate does not have access to any music, data or media. Access the Choon server cannot be obtained. Your privacy has not and will not be breached in any way.
Nobody from the Choon team has joined the Emanate team in any official capacity.
The offer to help, is simply an offer that no Choon user is under an obligation to take, and Emanate is under no obligation to make this offer. Once the level of interest in the token swap is known, we will provide the community with an update and details about how to get involved.
Emanate don’t have an accurate report of the NOTES balances yet and other complexities exist so this detail will not come until the new year.
Please note, that Emanate is in Alpha stage (pre-beta) much less developed than Choon.co ever was. There is currently no way to upload your own music so please be patient as this functionality is developed. When you register as a user of Emanate.live you get an email with links to google forms for initial Alpha content submission, and some of this will make it to the platform.
We do have an update in the next 48 hours which includes search, individual track pages and ability to order tracks by most played or most recent.
By March next year, most of the fundamental features that you would expect in a music monetisation platform will be in place and together we can promote your music to your fans via Emanate.
In the meantime, please enjoy a break over the holiday period, be nice to one another and share some music and related discussion in our discord channel.
The Emanate team and community understand there is a sense of loss left by the Choon closure, please also understand that the offer is for common good of all musicians who are interested in using blockchain as a career tool. Any token swap must be carried out carefully an in fairness to both Choon artists, Emanate Artists and all 12,600 Emanate token holders.
Merry Christmas to all, see you in 2020.
The Emanate Team