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DEMU Interview

· 13 min read
Denicio Bute


DEMU's vision is to establish a direct connection between fans and the artists they love, fostering deeper relationships. Their mission is to equip artists worldwide with advanced tools to streamline music sales and licensing, increase licensing revenues, and regain control over their business. The DEMU protocol ensures fair distribution of royalty payments to rights holders for all on-chain sales channels, providing real-time visibility into music usage and owed earnings. To achieve this, DEMU replaces expensive centralized solutions with a decentralized network of node operators, securing music through token-gated access, granting artists full control, and eliminating costly content storage overhead.

Hey Session Cruz, happy to connect today and learn more about the DEMU project. Can you tell us more about the project and the problem you were addressing?

Absolutely, I'd be happy to share more about DEMU. As a former recording artist and a veteran in the music industry, I've experienced firsthand the challenges that artists face when it comes to managing their music business.

The current music platforms operate like rented land for creators. Platforms set the rules, and these rules can change at any time without the consent of the artists who've spent years building their careers on these platforms. This is the problem that DEMU aims to address.

DEMU is a suite of tools designed to empower music professionals to directly manage their music business. Our first product, the DEMU Jukebox, allows fans to buy music directly from artists, fostering a direct relationship between them. It's like having Cash App and Spotify combined, where artists can be their own bank, streaming platform, and record store all in one.

The backbone of our system is the DEMU Protocol. When an artist uploads their music, configures their royalties, and links all contributors, a smart contract on the blockchain is generated. This contract contains instructions to auto-distribute royalties every time the artist sells their music. This way, we're not just helping artists sell their music, but also ensuring that they get paid their due royalties in a fair and transparent manner.

We're not just stopping at music. The vision for DEMU is to evolve into a master protocol that facilitates intellectual property licensing across all forms of media, with automatic royalties to all rights holders. This is a game-changer for creators, and we're excited to make this vision a reality.

What is your role in the DEMU project?

Certainly! My name is Session Cruz, and I'm the Founder of DEMU. My journey in the music industry began as a recording artist, touring the country and experiencing the highs and lows of the industry firsthand. After my stint as an artist, I spent over two decades working in various roles within the music industry, including, and starting my own casting agency, with notable clients like Kanye West, Drake & Kim Kardashian.

My experiences, both as an artist and an industry professional, have given me a deep understanding of the challenges that artists face, especially in the digital age. This understanding is what led me to found DEMU.

At DEMU, I lead a passionate team of professionals and technologists, all committed to empowering artists and revolutionizing the way intellectual property is managed and monetized. They include Randall Harmon, our CTO, with 30 years of experience working in the development of distributed systems & cryptography (before blockchain even existed!) and our CFO Armita Jalooli, who worked at IOHK/IOG as a Quantitative Analyst and was part of their Professional Services Group that helped design our Tokenomics.

What are the most important things about DEMU?

DEMU is building a revolutionary platform that empowers artists and record labels with innovative tools to manage their music business directly and transparently. Leveraging blockchain technology, DEMU offers unique products like Music Tokens and the DEMU Jukebox, which allow artists to sell their music directly to fans and manage their music sales, set their pricing, and receive direct payments.

In partnership with Cardano & World Mobile, DEMU provides indigenous record labels & artists with the tools to offer their music to a global audience, bypassing the need for extractive intermediaries or platforms.

DEMU values its community and encourages their involvement in strategic decisions through the $DEMU token. Looking ahead, DEMU plans to expand into various forms of media, creating a master protocol for intellectual property licensing with automatic royalties. This vision positions DEMU as a game-changer in the music industry and beyond.

Why did you choose to launch your project on Cardano?

We chose to launch DEMU on Cardano for several key reasons.

Firstly, Cardano's foundation in Functional Programming makes it an enterprise-grade blockchain, as opposed to other blockchains that use Object-Oriented Programming languages, which are more consumer-grade and prone to exploits and hacks. As we aim to build the royalty settlement layer for the music industry and eventually for multiple other industries, it was crucial for us to build on a robust and secure foundation. Cardano provides that.

Secondly, Cardano's philosophy and focus on emerging markets align with our mission at DEMU. Cardano is committed to providing access to financial tools that help level the playing field for people in less developed countries. This resonates with our goal at DEMU to empower artists and record labels, particularly those in emerging markets, with the tools to manage their music business directly and transparently.

In essence, Cardano's technological strength and its commitment to financial inclusivity made it the ideal platform for launching DEMU.

Going forward, how will DEMU make an impact in the crypto space or on the world?

DEMU is poised to make a significant impact in the crypto space and the world at large by transforming the way music professionals manage their businesses.

In the crypto space, DEMU will demonstrate the practical application of blockchain technology in addressing real-world challenges. By using smart contracts to automate royalty payments, we're showcasing how blockchain can bring transparency, efficiency, and fairness to industries like music that have long been plagued by opaque and complex payment systems.

Globally, DEMU will empower artists and music professionals, particularly those in emerging markets, by giving them direct control over their music business. This means artists can sell their music directly to fans, set their own royalty rates, and receive payments instantly and transparently. This democratisation of the music industry can lead to a more diverse and vibrant global music scene.

Moreover, as DEMU evolves, we plan to extend our technology to other forms of media like TV, film, books, and magazines. This means the impact of DEMU could reach far beyond the music industry, revolutionizing the way intellectual property is licensed and royalties are paid to all creators across all forms of media.

In essence, DEMU is set to disrupt the status quo, championing a more equitable and transparent model for managing and monetizing creative work.

Now, what are your accomplishments so far, and what are you most proud of?

As a serial entrepreneur, I've had my fair share of wins and losses, each one teaching me valuable lessons that have shaped my journey. I was a musician during the early days of the internet, a time I often refer to as the "awkward phase". I see many parallels between that era and the current exploration of the crypto space by today's musicians.

I've had the privilege of touring the country, releasing music, and meeting a diverse range of people. Interestingly, DEMU isn't my first venture at the intersection of music and technology. I previously founded BandwagonMobile, a platform that was essentially Spotify before Spotify existed. It enabled artists to upload their music and promote themselves via Twitter. We had big names like Diddy, Swizz Beatz, and Busta Rhymes using the service. Although BandwagonMobile didn't succeed as I had hoped, the experience was invaluable and taught me many lessons.

In addition, I built a successful casting agency, Face Time Agency, which cast hundreds of music videos for some of the world's most famous artists. As Instagram gained popularity and I began working with Kanye West, I pivoted the company to become an influencer marketing agency. This allowed me to work with some of the biggest emerging social media brands.

All these experiences, the winding road of successes and failures, have prepared me for building DEMU. I'm proud of the resilience and adaptability I've developed along the way, and I'm excited to bring these qualities to the journey ahead with DEMU.

Why should people choose to DEMU? What are the advantages over other projects of similar nature?

DEMU differentiates itself from other Web3 Music Startups by addressing the root issues in the music industry, not just the symptoms. For instance, some projects allow artists to sell the royalties of their Spotify earnings to their fans. While this may seem innovative, it essentially supports an exploitative system and passes on the poor royalty payments to the fans. It's like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic - it doesn't solve the underlying problem.

Moreover, many Music NFTs today rely on IPFS, a system that makes music freely available, forcing these NFTs to position themselves as collectibles with arbitrary rarity. This approach doesn't provide a compelling reason for fans to purchase the music, as they can simply play it for free.

DEMU, on the other hand, introduces a new music format that authorizes access to the music on a decentralized storage network, making the link not publicly available. This means that our music format acts more like a physical CD or cassette tape, sellable to millions of fans as opposed to an arbitrary limited amount. It's a game-changer that empowers artists and provides real value to fans, disrupting the status quo in the music industry.

What is the future of DEMU?

The future of DEMU is bright and filled with exciting developments. Our immediate focus is on launching the Jukebox Music Player DApp, a game-changer for artists and fans alike, set to launch in Q4 2023.

Following this, we'll be rolling out the DEMU Protocol, a revolutionary tool for music licensing and royalty distribution. This will empower artists and record labels to take control of their music business, enabling them to sell music directly to fans and manage royalties efficiently.

Beyond these developments, we're also looking forward to fostering partnerships with other innovators in the space, such as World Mobile and Future Fest. These collaborations will further strengthen the DEMU ecosystem and extend our reach.

What's more, we're already in talks with some of the biggest names in the music industry who are considering DEMU. This is a testament to the value we're bringing to music professionals.

In essence, the future of DEMU is about empowering artists, driving a significant adoption to the Cardano blockchain, and transforming the music industry for the better.

Which partnerships have you engaged so far, and which ones are the most impactful?

We've been fortunate to engage with several impactful partners thus far. Two of the most notable are World Mobile and Future Fest.

Our developing partnership with World Mobile is particularly exciting. World Mobile is focused on connecting the unconnected, providing internet access to people in emerging markets. This aligns perfectly with DEMU's mission. Many music fans in these regions currently lack access to music streaming platforms, primarily because these platforms require a bank account for subscription, which many people in these regions don't have. On the flip side, artists in these markets lack the tools to reach a global music audience. Through our collaboration with World Mobile, DEMU can serve as a bridge, connecting these artists and fans to the global music industry.

Our partnership with Future Fest, a music-focused digital events metaverse, is another significant collaboration. The challenge they face is the lack of infrastructure for paying royalties to rights holders for music played in these virtual spaces. DEMU is solving this problem by building a protocol that enables easy music licensing with automatic royalty payments. This not only benefits Future Fest but also has implications for all metaverses, unlocking more music for broadcast.

These potential partnerships are just the beginning. We have many more lined up, each bringing unique opportunities to further enhance the DEMU ecosystem and bring value to music professionals worldwide.

Tell us about your team. Who are the people behind DEMU?

Our team is composed of a diverse group of professionals with a wide range of skills and experiences:

  • Session Cruz, Founder: A serial entrepreneur who founded FaceTime Agency, an influencer marketing agency with notable clients such as Kanye West, Drake, and Kim Kardashian.
  • Randall Harmon, CTO: A 30-year business software architect with expertise in accounting, distributed systems, data processing, cryptography, and web technologies.
  • Armita Jalooli, CFO: Equipped with extensive experience in tokenomics, quantitative and technical research in cryptocurrency, and blockchain, Armita holds two master's degrees in Business Management and Computer Engineering.
  • Piotr Napierala, Developer: A full-stack and smart contract developer skilled in mobile DApp development, and a passionate advocate for decentralization.
  • Viviek Patel, Marketing: Holds a master’s degree in Strategic Communication and Advertising. Experiences span across brand building, community growth, product marketing, & Go-To-Market launches.
  • Wheels, Community Manager: Responsible for independent artist outreach and Discord security auditing, Wheels is a former ADAO Core contributor.
  • Mecca Rashawn, Artist Onboarding: A music industry professional with a background in artist management and development. He was ex-Music Editor for legendary music magazine “The Source”. He is a co-host for the successful podcast "My Expert Opinion" and serves as A&R for Busta Rhymes.
  • DJ Clue, Artist Onboarding: A world-renowned DJ, Grammy-nominated producer, and founder of Desert Storm Records. Clue is a Hip Hop legend.
  • Keith Kirk, Metadata Specialist: A music industry veteran with a focus on metadata, rights management, and digital distribution.
  • Jamie Dominguez, Advisor: A music industry executive with 25 years of experience, specializing in rights management, music publishing, artist development, financial literacy, and education. Her professional experience includes 19 years at SESAC, the only U.S.-based Music Rights Organization that administers public performance, mechanical, micro-synch and other rights.
  • Tirath Kamdar, Advisor: An executive at eBay and seasoned entrepreneur, Tirath specializes in fundraising and was the former CEO and co-founder of TrueFacet, a luxury digital marketplace.
  • Tony Dofat, Advisor: An Grammy-nominated multi-platinum music producer, composer, author, and educator with over 30 years in the music industry, most notably for Diddy’s Bad Boy Entertainment.
  • Renaud Besnard, Advisor: A marketing expert with experience in tech companies like Uber and Google.

Our team also extends its gratitude to the numerous contributors from the vibrant Cardano community, whose support and input have been invaluable.