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African start-up uses blockchain to disrupt music's value chain

African start-up uses blockchain to disrupt music's value chain

The business is at development stage, is backed by crowdfunding investment and its flagship social music platform on the verge of release, but Therry Martins, CEO and Founder of shokoCAST is confident that when officially launched in Q4 this year, the offering (built on an underlying layer of blockchain technology) will shake, rattle and roll the online music scene.

shokoCAST is designed to converge the entire music value chain and aims to be "a place where musicians build careers, fans find inspiration and managers discover talent!"

The plan is really to exploit the advent of digital and online channels and by converging the value chain, enable anyone with access to a mobile device to create, publish and distribute music.

"Digital and online distribution has added to the evolution of the industry to a point where streaming accounts for over 60% of revenue," says Martins.

"We integrate social media to ensure that the greater community is allowed to support the artist and not the current model where music mainstream perspectives are forced on society. Our OTT services are free and the anonymous messenger with voice capabilities provides additional features much needed in society. Our advertising model rewards the user and based on our current model provides a full dataset to the advertising industry," he adds.

Linking with blockchain

shokoCAST has already done much of the ground work, including the UI/UX because the platform is primarily mobile.

It is also devised using blockchain technology, which Martins says addresses many of the challenges that impact the music industry, specifically in terms of artists earning royalties for their work, when and where their work is used or performed, and a 'fair music' certification of transparency for digital services and labels, among others.

shokoCAST's main objective is to effectively store all relevant information and ensure that this is accessible to all stakeholders in the music industry's value chain.

According to Martins information resides upon a chain which is then linked to a transparent and secure platform. There is a strong element of tech interdependency.

"Bitcoin has a single chain for financial information and can't be used to achieve our objective. A quadruple layered chain is four chains that integrate into a core or main chain so as to allow us to record music related data, store music files, operate a social platform and record financial data. This is based on Ethereum, polkadot, multichain and sharding technologies."

Artist equity

Martins says he has added seed capital and already invested R5 million into the business and counting – but he is confident of gaining faster traction once more investors come on board.

The main revenue stream is from a share of sales from artists because the value chain service is offered for free and the artist retains his/her rights.

"Also the platform has 'artist equity' which gives us a share in all streams for artists funded. We offer additional revenue streams, for example live streaming that gives us a percentage of ticket sales etc. We have blockchain advertising to which we split all revenue with the community i.e. another stream. As we are the foundation chain onto which record labels, collection societies and industry players can operate upon – we offer support services for industry at a small fee i.e. technology cost as we are building a single viable dataset that will have complete data for music created and also a streaming service can simply integrate into our platform from a technology layer perspective and they can offer streaming services at half the cost – we charge a small fee," says Martins.

This will go a long way towards the sustainability of the service within a market that is becoming fiercely competitive.

Activity over the last year reflects this.

In March music streaming service Spotify launched in South Africa, allowing users to browse, discover, curate playlists, build their own music collection and share music with friends from a catalogue of over 35 million songs all available to both free users and subscribers.

Michael Krause, Managing Director for Europe Middle East and Africa was quoted as saying, "In terms of other African countries we are always looking at the market for when is the right time in terms of catalogue, connectivity etc. Africa is a great continent and we are definitely looking to launch in more countries. Our product is mobile centric and this is why we chose to start our journey here."

In February Safaricom launched its music streaming service Songa by Safaricom, available via the Songa mobile app, to offer users access to over 2 million songs. It competes with the likes of Mdundo and Jango.

Martins believes the business model he has chosen to establish shokoCAST is different from competitor platforms because it incorporates the entire value chain.

"Once we have a beta platform we would be able to increase our engagement in-country per our roadmap, despite it being available worldwide we expect to focus the majority of our marketing efforts in Africa as part of our proof of concept. "

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