Decentralizing Music Curation via Monetized Playlists: a Choon world-first

This week, we’re launching one of the features that we’ve been most excited about since announcing the Choon mission: Monetized Playlists, which run natively within the Choon platform. In this article, I’ll talk a little about why we strongly believe Monetized Playlists are necessary, then chat about how you can create them, right now.

Currently, music curation at the legacy streaming services is about as centralized as it can get. The most prominent playlists are curated by employees of the platforms themselves, rather than their users.

Why is this a problem? Because this allows employees at, say, Spotify to become extremely powerful gatekeepers. By deciding who gets featured on prominent playlists, these gatekeepers retain total control of the most valuable real-estate on the platform. From my 15-year experience in the music industry, all-powerful, arbitrary gatekeepers tend to lead to nepotism and corruption.

It wasn’t always this way. When I first began releasing music in the early 2000s, the system was far more decentralized. Yes, we had gatekeepers — the thousands of music store ‘buyers’ around the world: those tastemakers that decided which music their store would stock, and which releases received prominent placement on the shelves. This primitive but fairly distributed system did a great job of curating music in a decentralized fashion. Plus, it was hard to influence the network of buyers, as there were thousands of them all around the world.

Once music distribution was digitized, corruption became rife. As the old network of physical record stores faded away, and were replaced by online distribution, there was a dramatic shrinkage in the number of gatekeepers. I recall releasing my debut album ‘Northern Lights’ in 2010: all of a sudden, we didn’t have to worry about prominent racking in record stores, because all we cared about was iTunes. Rather than having to influence thousands of objective record store buyers, we now simply had to find out who was in charge of the iTunes Dance Pages, and win them over to get a large banner. Sometimes, a well-connected publicist could do this: other-times, artists resorted to dinner, drinks, and gifts.

This system still exists today. With Spotify’s biggest playlists being those curated by Spotify itself, the Spotify employees who curate these playlists become all-powerful gatekeepers. And as you’d expect: the battle of who can win ‘control’ over the playlist curators is usually won by the traditional music industry superpowers (major labels and management groups), which perversely leads to increased dominance and monopolization by the exact companies the digital music revolution was supposed to displace.

So: what’s our solution? Our fix is two-fold.

  1. Generate a dynamic, flourishing ecosystem that rewards playlist curators for their work, and encourages the best playlists to be from the community itself, rather than company employees.
  2. Where possible, decisions about which playlists to feature should be algorithmically-generated to remove Choon entirely from the decision-making process.

Today, we’re proud to start the process with the launch of Monetized Playlists.

As of now, any user on Choon can create a playlist and receive NOTES when it is played. Here’s how it works:

If you’re a listener: simply create a new playlist, add tracks to it, share it on your socials, and you’ll receive a % royalty set by the artist when people listen to your playlist.

This is set by default to 5%, but artists have the ability to change this to any value from 0% to 100%. Note that you’ll only receive NOTES when the track is played within the context of your playlist, and not from the artist page, Genres or Top Tracks.

In this example, a 5% royalty is offered to playlist curators who include this track.

If you’re an artist: note that your Playlist Split is set to 5% by default, but you can set any rate for this, on any track, based on your own market dynamics. For instance, if you’ve got one of the hottest tracks on Choon, perhaps you feel you’ll be included in plenty of playlists anyway, so you might decide to offer just 1%, or even 0%. On the other hand, if promoting your music is the name of the game, you might decide to offer the ultimate incentive to playlist curators by giving them the full royalty at 100%. Or anything in-between. The choice is entirely yours.

Part of the reason why Choon only allows tracks which are entirely artist-owned is so we can have the flexibility to implement unique solutions like this. Whilst playlisting economies have sprung up around Soundcloud, it’s only been off-site, with bloggers monetizing their content via external channels.

By building native playlist royalties directly into the heart of Choon, where curators, like artists, are paid every single day, we continue our mission to become the most legitmate music marketplace on the planet.

Let us know your thoughts, and as always, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Telegram, Instagram or Reddit to keep in touch with all things Choon.

And most importantly, get yourself over to the Choon Platform at http://www.choon.co and start making those playlists!

The Choon Team