We interviewed the NEWM team, a blockchain-based project aiming to create a music ecosystem that allows musicians to own their creative content and monetize their art from conception to retirement. Including a streaming platform, music rights marketplace, micropayments, ticketing, and fractionalization of IP rights, focusing on user-friendly design and technology using the Cardano blockchain.
Can you introduce yourself
Hello world! We are NEWM, a blockchain-based tech project focused on shaking things up in the music space when it comes to Intellectual Property (IP) and ownership rights. Our dynamic duo of Co-Founders and Co-CEOs go by Ryan Jones and Florian Sorg. A career musician with deep knowledge of the music industry, Ryan focuses on uniting global talent, strategic partnerships and providing first-hand industry insight; while Florian brings financial, operational and management knowledge from years of experience in the VC-Tech space. What’s better than two heads? Four! Our Chief Product Officer (CPO), Tiziana Pittini, specializes in design and project management, making our product suite user-friendly for both blockchain and non-blockchain users. Last, but certainly not least, Andrew Westberg is our Chief Technology Officer (CTO), or mad data scientist as we like to call him. He’s a blockchain-technology specialist with unmatched experience delivering scalable apps for Fortune 500 companies.
Hey, NEWM team, happy to connect today and learn more about NEWM. Ryan, can you tell us more about the project and the problem you were addressing?
NEWM is an entire music ecosystem with fairness at its core. We’re building a digital landscape for musicians to own their creative content and monetize their art from ‘conception’ to retirement. This will include a streaming platform, music rights’ marketplace, direct tipping via micropayments, ticketing for in-person and metaverse events, and the fractionalization of IP rights (currently only related to streaming royalties). Our first product launch will include a self-service music distribution platform that enables fractionalized ownership of IP via our smart contracts, and shortly thereafter, a marketplace for trading music rights.
Andrew, what makes NEWM revolutionary from a technological standpoint?
From a technological perspective, we try to think of ourselves not as a blockchain project that is doing music, but rather, a music platform that happens to be using the blockchain. This informs all of our technical decisions to put the end-user experience before anything else. As a natural byproduct, NEWM protocol users shouldn’t feel the need to learn a new technology in order to use our services; it creates a seamless experience and helps us develop a frictionless product offering that drives mass adoption.
Our NFT minting and fractionalization contracts, which we’ve open-sourced, are unique in that they allow for a policy that can remain unlocked and open forever, while guaranteeing NFT uniqueness from the contract code itself.
Tiziana, what role does design play in NEWM?
Accessible design is our top priority. While we are heavily involved in the crypto scene, our goal is to make our ecosystem inclusive and appealing to everyone, regardless of their technical background. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to participate in our platform, and that's why design and user experience play such a critical role. Our focus is to ensure the complexity of our project does not discourage anyone from accessing and/or participating in the NEWM ecosystem.
Florian, why did you choose to build your project on Cardano?
Cardano’s approach to scalability, security, and sustainability through a decentralized ecosystem and an eco-friendly consensus mechanism (Proof-of-Stake) aligns with our values as a company. Among the many things we value about Cardano, some of the most significant are the deterministic fees, security of native assets, scientific rigor and network stability.
With over 50 published peer-reviewed papers, Cardano’s research-based development in collaboration with universities worldwide provides many benefits, including state-of-the-art advancements in the field and scalability of the underlying technology. Since launching in 2017, Cardano has gained significant user interest and has over 2,900 stake pools, making it highly decentralized.
In a nutshell, the alignment of values, predictable cost-forecasting and network stability were the main factors when choosing the Cardano blockchain.
Andrew, what challenges did you or are you facing right now by building on Cardano?
Compared to other L1 ecosystems, Cardano is relatively new. Smart contracts have only been out for around a year now. Being so fresh, there are often gaps in the tooling and infrastructure required to build out a protocol on top of Cardano. For example, we needed a good way to communicate with the blockchain from Kotlin code. To address this need, we created the open source Kogmios library. This doesn’t have anything to do with our project itself, but it’s a piece of plumbing we had to resolve before we could get back to developing our core value proposition.
Florian, what is the core problem you are trying to solve with NEWM?
The current music industry business model provides musicians with essentially two options:
Join a record label and get your music out to the masses at the expense of your creative control and IP copyrights.
Remain independent and rely on popular streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and Youtube to distribute your music while earning a fraction of the revenue.
This is why we’re creating a third option, enabling musicians to have the best of both worlds – i.e., maintaining ownership of their creative content while distributing their music and only selling/sharing music rights as they see fit.
At NEWM, we’re putting musicians and music lovers first by creating a community-owned platform where you can fractionalize music rights with NFTs that can be freely traded within the ecosystem. Moreover, we cover the whole music distribution and royalty collection processes through our white label partner, offering a one-stop-shop for the artists.
Now, Tiziana, what are your accomplishments so far, and what are you most proud of?
We have successfully created two stake pools, which have been an important part of supporting the progress of our project. Additionally, we’ve launched an online resource magazine that helps educate and inform the community about music and web3, as well as keep up with project developments. Two of our greatest accomplishments have been growing a team of 40 motivated people who are dedicated to our vision, and building a large community that is eager to see our project succeed. Lastly, we have created several individual ‘Sample Sale’ sites for artists, which have already empowered them to have more control over their work and revenue.
Ryan, why should musicians choose to use NEWM? What are the advantages over other legacy businesses such as music labels?
By using NEWM as the distribution platform, artists can enter the traditional system through the portal of Web3. This allows the best of both worlds: fractionalization and tokenization of IP and royalties through the use of smart contracts and native assets, plus the liquidity and exposure of the traditional music industry. This helps musicians to truly monetize their music and not just their persona. Music lovers also benefit by directly connecting with their favorite artists in a much more meaningful way. They become a part of the music, if you will, and finally have access to a multibillion-dollar industry. From a B2B perspective, we’ll be able to provide royalty payouts much faster once we launch our own streaming platform. Instead of a 3-month lead time for royalty payouts, artists and labels will be able to see payouts basically in real time.
Florian, where do you see NEWM in ten years?
NEWM will be a legacy project - this means we want to give the artists a place to start their career and never feel the need to go elsewhere. By adding more features and tools, we want to build an ecosystem that will cover the music industry as a whole, filling all the gaps that currently exist. We will offer services from Stream Tokens and other IP-related products to ticket sales, and collectibles, as well as our own streaming service and marketplace. Our long term vision goes beyond that, so we might even offer other token-gated products, which could include stem and more! We may even become our own Performance Rights Organization (PRO) in ten years, which will free artists from the old music industry giants. Additionally, everything will be governed by artists and the community, so they can decide the future of NEWM. Getting goosebumps by just talking of such a future!
Which partnerships have you engaged so far, and which ones are the most impactful?
Partnerships between companies are always a big topic in the crypto industry. We haven’t announced any official partnerships yet, because we believe in thoroughly vetting, building and working together for a trial period first before announcing something to our community. We will announce when the time is right. We do have a sustainability collaboration that will be announced soon, so keep up with our socials if you’re interested in learning more!
We’d also like to take a moment to spotlight our amazing NEWM Community and the Cardano Community as a whole. We consider this our greatest partnership, and we certainly wouldn’t be where we are without the enthusiasm, support and encouragement we receive on a daily basis. Without the countless open exchanges we’ve had with community members, we wouldn’t be able to refine and resolve the problems we’re tackling in the RealFi space. We always say, “We are because you are,” and that’s the truth.
Another impactful partnership we’ve engaged in so far has been with the iconic Hip Hop artist, MURS. He did the first ever Stream Token Sale with us (which was also our proof-of-concept). Having such a legendary musician to do the first drop was a great success of our Artist Relations team - major shout out to the team.
Tiziana, tell us about your team. Who are the people behind NEWM?
Our team has grown a lot in the past year, totalling 40 members at the time of this interview. It's really quite impressive. While we can’t list everyone here, I can tell you that we've attracted some incredibly talented individuals across all different walks of life and expertise. Many started as dedicated community members! Our Development team includes some great talent who've worked for companies like Nike and Walmart, and our Marketing team has a diverse set of backgrounds (both digital and print), which gives us a unique perspective when connecting with our community. On the Product and Design side, we've got some experienced pros who want to push boundaries, and our Legal and Operations team is top notch. We also have an Artist Relations team that is composed of experienced music professionals to help us navigate the industry. What brings all of us together is a passion for music and fairness; to bring about change and make the world a better place.
To see our full team, visit newm.io/team
Here are some of our links:
- Website: https://newm.io/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/projectNEWM
- Discord: https://discord.com/invite/z4sYqxqgvQ
- Telegram: https://t.me/NEWMofficial
- GitHub: https://github.com/projectNEWM
- Instagram: https://instagram.com/projectnewm.io
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcsBNWGjIf8YarD9uaZEEvw