Choon co-founder talks combining centralised and decentralised tech for fairer music streaming

Building a mainstream blockchain product means working within the capabilities of current technology, says Choon co-founder Bjorn Niclas of the music streaming service Choon co-created alongside Gareth Emery.

Choon is a blockchain-based service created to facilitate a fairer distribution of profit by cutting out intermediaries and middle-men from the process. Everything from music contracts to licensing and payments are processed through the service, with information then stored securely on the blockchain.

Niclas told CNR: “Within our group, I was the least crypto and blockchain savvy. I’ve been working with Gareth for well over ten years, and he kept telling me about this ‘Bitcoin’ thing back in 2013. I’m an entrepreneur and I specifically remember him telling me to buy into Bitcoin… Looking back now, like many people out there, you’re upset about not getting in there early.”

Both co-founders have lengthy experience in the music industry, and this has helped them identify the real problems in the space and how blockchain technology can help.

“Blockchain is really great at handling micro-transactions, keeping track of who owns what etc,” he continued. “When you look at Choon, we’re using blockchain to drive our royalty accounting system. When we issue a smart contract, we call it a ‘smart record contract’, so when producers upload a track they just have to put in the information once and then it’s stored on the Ethereum blockchain. It’s a fully transparent record, and we are able to make payments more or less in real time.”

This transparency is something that artists won’t find on streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music, he posits, and blockchain technology also helps them to detect fraudulent tracks.

But Choon is not fully-decentralised, as many would assume, and the music library itself operates much like a traditional streaming service despite the behind the scenes accounting happening on the blockchain.

Niclas added: “Our streaming platform is actually centralised because when you press play on a song, we want it to play immediately. Currently, that wouldn’t be possible if the music was on the decentralised web – it would take way too long for the song to load. So our streaming platform is centralised and then all of the royalty system and contracts is decentralised on the blockchain.

“It’s about building a mainstream product. We’re in the business of revolutionising music streaming for individual artists, but that model wouldn’t work if you had to wait five minutes for every track to load. That is currently but, in our plan, as soon as the technology is fast enough to be fully-decentralised, we will be.”