Putting Artists in the Driver Seat

September 8, 2022

Lex Fridman posted a recent podcast with Liv Boeree, world poker champion and game theorist. Liv spends over 3 hours unpacking the disincentives built into current tech platforms– a trend Liv terms moloch.  We’ll assume this premise of moloch is very much true and share how majr thinks about addressing these kinds of dark patterns.

Let's start by framing majr's central challenge, which is designing a viable solution that:

1) Creates new and potentially breakaway economic value for the creator or rightsholder
2) Respects existing copyright laws
3) Unlocks innovation without relying on so-called dark patterns (or moloch) 

It goes without saying these are inputs to what matters to customers: solving a real-world problem.

Here, we focus on our core belief that a representative set of artists must have a meaningful seat at the table for decision-making. This isn't necessarily at the expense of other constituencies, be it fans, employees, technologists or investors. This is simply to say that the people creating the most value (the creators) deserve significantly more voice in the running of their own industry.

At majr, we have a unique opportunity to make this real because we’re building from the ground-up. There’s no heritage or orthodoxy to overcome. We take this opportunity seriously and want to share a few ways we're making this real today.

Best Artist Economics
Money talks. We're designing our business model and unit economics to return up to 80% of revenue on goods sold to artists. We build the unique economic elements of the music industry into our business modeling, such as averaging manager, label and distributor fees. We discuss and poll artists on their expenses to understand how seasonality and touring matters. We look at competition and understand how we can improve transparency and time-to-payout relative to the alternatives.

Artists Work Here
We've been incredibly fortunate to have recording and touring artists as part of the core team since we founded majr. One co-founder is a professional recording and touring artist. Another is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music and our AI/ML Advisor. We recently hired a talented touring artist to help lead business development and artist relations. We believe this is a powerful multi-disciplinary team uniquely positioned to build differently.  Every day we tackle problems by bringing these different voices together; how would an artist solve this problem? How would a technologist? How would a pure capitalist? We debate and argue to find the path of best fit.

Futures Advisory Board
Artists are unique and have unique needs. That's why we created a Futures Advisory Board. This is a regular forum where a unique group of breaking, professional and mega artists engage deeply on the future of music and technology. We understand this is a long-term journey and that the industry needs a renewed sense of trust if we're going to build differently. That's why we're working to engage a group of diverse artists as part of how majr makes big decisions. We've been doing this informally since day one, running a robust insider program with a handful of trusted artists, some of which continue to engage daily on product design. We're excited to take this to the next level.

I remember when I started doing 1:1 artist interviews back in 2020. We were gathering customer feedback to really understand if there was a solvable problem here. In all the practical feedback from artists, there was also a deep sense of distrust and exhaustion. Year after year, decade after decade, technology had eroded both the bargaining power and economic realities of working artists. That's real. And we hear you. That's why we're sharing these early first steps.

So far the feedback has been positive. Many artists tell us that no tech company engages them in the design/decision-making process like we do. And this is just a beginning. We have a lot of work ahead of us to really deliver on these ideals.  They may also change or evolve as we learn and evolve together, remaining open to undiscovered possibilities.

Comments? Have an idea on how to engage or improve artist engagement? Hit us up.

We'll keep the updates coming. More soon, -jcannon

Artists deserve fair pay
This is the future we're building.
Supporting Artists