Music streaming services have delivered a great service for their listeners. For an annual fee of less than a dozen records, we can stream and download the entire world’s back catalogue. We’re also becoming increasingly aware, however, that artists don’t get such a good deal. A million streams earns around $4000 for an artist on Spotify.
And although it’s good value, anyone that streams music is familiar with the experience of putting together a playlist of individual songs about which we don’t know the first thing. The biggest names still command cultish followings but gone are the days when legions of fans plastered their walls with band posters. We listen to music we’ve often discovered algorithmically, grouped together based on ‘vibes’.
This lack of context and fans’ limited connection to the music they consume is one of the issues the web3 music company Centaurify is aiming to change: they want to offer fans a direct and genuine connection to the artists they listen to, and; an opportunity for artists to brand-build. As a result of streaming, artists have had to look beyond album sales to rely on performances, merch and brand partnerships for revenue.
“I hate it when people buy low quality artist t-shirts”, is what Martin Bjercke cofounder and creative director of Centaurify tells me however. As a DJ and producer with more than a billion streams to his name, as well as a being coach on The Voice Norway from 2017 to 2019, Martin is more alive than most to the concerns of artists trying to build a brand in 2023.
Add Martin’s creative partner and cofounder David Rootwelt-Norberg into the mix, who has a background in fashion and music, and you have the two people driving this Oslo-based outfit forward. Having met at a Universal Music Group summer party and collaborated on a couple of things, the pandemic brought them closer together as they tried to think about how to get a better deal for artists and fans amidst a collapse in IRL events. They both had an interest in blockchain technologies, and David credited the increased free time he had thanks to Covid as a learning opportunity. Martin’s interest came from closer to home: his brother, Bjørn Kienholz Bjercke, goes by the moniker Mr Bitcoin Norway – and is a blockchain enthusiast who helped bring down One Coin (i.e, the Crytpo Queen’s fraudulent blockchain-less crypto company).
Martin and David tell me Centaurify works on the ‘thousand fans theory’, of which the central tenet is that an artist only needs a thousand hard-core fans to sustain their music career. By providing these (ideally HNW) top one thousand fans with Centaurify created blockchain-based digital content, merchandise collectibles and VIP events/memberships, the company hopes to provide a much needed revenue stream for artists (they tell me 98% of artists on Spotify make less than $50K annually). To do this, they have their own web3 creator studio where they can help artist’s create any kind of digital content of their choosing that will appeal to their fans.