Another addition to our extraordinary Advisory Board, Sean Koh has built an impressive portfolio in all his years in business. Through his company VerticalMass, he has worked with giants like Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Justin Timberlake. As an ambassador of entertainment and culture from South Korea, has produced work for artists such as k-pop star Jessica Jung, and he’s given a speech before the United Nations to introduce Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
As Koh points out, no matter how big the star, everyone has suffered from the industry’s unfair compensation. Fortunately for us, Koh is a “hands-on operator” and brings to the table extensive experience in the cryptocurrency community. “Music is maybe the most fertile environment for blockchain,” Sean told us, which is awesome news for fans and artists alike.
EMUSIC: WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THE EMUSIC BLOCKCHAIN PROJECT?
Sean Koh: Among various holdings, I own a music company, a record label, and a recording studio. Essentially, there’s a huge gap in the music industry when it comes to receiving payments from publishing services, and also from platforms like Spotify or Apple or Google Music. This has been something in the back of my mind, especially with blockchain coming up in the past two or three years. I was pleasantly surprised when I met Michael [Juskiewicz] in Japan as I was launching one of my blockchain projects and I was pleased to see there was a synergy between our projects. My other blockchain project focuses on entertainment and sports, allowing for celebrities to bypass Google and Facebook to protect, control, and sell their data on their own around the world. Just the fact that we are decentralizing the data world means that eMusic will hold a unique position when it comes to the disparity and injustices of their own industry. When I was in Tokyo a few weeks ago wrapping up a speaker series on blockchain, I met Julia [Della Scala, another eMusic advisory board member] and that’s when I decided to join the team.
EMUSIC: YOU HOLD A UNIQUE AND INTERNATIONAL PLACE IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY. TELL US ABOUT THAT.
Sean: I am an investor in a global agency that manages and produces some of the biggest artists in k-pop. Jessica Jung with 8 million Instagram follower is one example. Beyond her, I work with various different artists. Also, I have a production company with various multi-platinum and Grammy award-winning producers that could really get use out of the eMusic model.
EMUSIC: HOW DO YOU THINK BLOCKCHAIN WILL SOLVE PROBLEMS FOR PRODUCERS?
Sean: To start, the music industry is notorious for not paying out publishing checks either in a timely manner or a fair manner when it comes down to dollars and cents. So if there’s a trusted, verified ledger to measure plays, streams, and downloads, and all the various rights, that transparency will be very beneficial. That means producers and creators would be paid what they should be paid in a timely manner. Blockchain has been applied in government, finance, and other established institutions. Meanwhile, the music industry has been disrupted every five-to-ten years by new players. Music is maybe the most fertile environment for blockchain.
I also think eMusic is going to be useful as a crowdfunding platform to launch an artist’s career. When it comes to decentralizing the entire creative process, it’s interesting from financing and marketing standpoints.
EMUSIC: WHAT MAKES YOU A UNIQUE MEMBER OF THE EMUSIC ADVISORY BOARD?
Sean: I was part of the first crypto craze. A lesson I learned from that era is that I have to be very picky about what projects I associate with. As much as there was a bull run in crypto, there was also a crash. What I’m trying to bring to the table is not only the finance guys and the tech guys, but also encourage eMusic to have a strong music side. I know we have Matt Downing from radio, and people from the publishing side. I love the team so far and I just know there’s a big problem in this industry we all can solve. We all agree and have a similar mission.
As for me, I’m always about revenues, creating proof of concept, and sustainable business models. I want to position eMusic to launch the next superstars. I work with a couple of trainees in America and Korea. I realize all that sounds good on paper, but I’m also a hands-on operator.
EMUSIC: SO WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP?
Sean: I want to get things going. Music is a very low upfront investment. If you have writers, producers, and talent, you don’t have any other costs in creating the music. We need to start making the platform available and targeting the genres and the producers that are relevant today all around the world. My strategy is to start releasing hot singles, start creating a digital campaign for them, then let eMusic prove that we know music and how to do it well. If we have a proof of concept with results that show through a successful single launch, where we were able to pay out everyone faster and fairer than everyone else out there, then the product speaks for itself.