MBW’s Inspiring Women series profiles female executives who have risen through the ranks of the business, highlighting their career journey – from their professional breakthrough to the senior responsibilities they now fulfil. Inspiring Women is supported by Ingrooves.
Fan-funding platform Corite has made plenty of headlines across its short history.
That media attention is owed in part to support from the likes of Hitco and Instrumental, not to mention the $6.2 million it raised via a private token sale for its blockchain-based sister project, Corite CO.
Co-founded in 2019, the Stockholm-born platform partnered with AI-driven talent discovery business Instrumental that same year to leverage the latter company’s TalentAI platform to identify emerging musicians on its platform.
Corite’s partnership with L.A-based Hitco Entertainment, meanwhile, which came in 2021, saw Hitco acquire a minority stake in the company.
The concept for Corite is simple: artists use the platform to raise money for projects from fans, who can earn a proportion of streaming royalties in return.
Corite says that it takes a 10% cut of raised capital and future royalties, while artists typically share 15-20% of royalties with fans, with the rights reverting back to the artist after one year.
According to Corite’s FAQs, “as part of a fan campaign, [artists] estimate the number of streams [their] music will get over a one-year period. This determines the estimated value”.
Artists then decide how much of this they wish to share with their backers.
Corite says that it will “always get” a 10% commission on the money raised in a fan campaign as well as on “all royalties”, and after that one-year period comes to an end, Corite will continue to keep 10% “as long as [the artist] continue[s] to be part of [its] service”.
“We are moving more into becoming a fan engagement platform, that’s where we see the future.”
Emelie Olsson, Corite
Corite is also about to expand its offering with the launch of ‘Fan Missions’, which, it says will encourage fans to engage with artists and receive rewards in return.
As Corite COO and co-founder, Emelie Olsson, tells MBW in our interview below, “going forward, we are moving more into becoming a fan engagement platform, where the artist can build their platform, nourish their fan base, reward them and create missions for them. That’s where we see the future.”
Olsson was hired by fellow Corite co-founders Mattias Tengblad and Emil Angervall, who were both working on other projects at the time.
She worked on Corite alone for 10 months, pitching the idea to managers and artists and getting feedback to inform the platform’s launch.
“Some people were super supportive but some people said it would never work. ‘Why would an artist want to ask their fans for money?’ That made me want to prove them wrong and prove that this was possible,” Olsson remembers.
Here, Olsson tells MBW about the future of Corite, the evolution of audience-power in music, Web3, and why she’d like to see more risk-taking in the music business.
It seems that most artists using Corite are relatively unknown and in the early stages of their careers. Is that the primary user base you’re built for or do you have bigger ambitions?
The artists you see on our platform now have found it through things like ads or social media. We are doing more bespoke projects, like we did with Alan Walker where he raised over $25,000 for an NFT fan-funded campaign. We are aiming to have a few more of those bespoke projects on our platform before the end of the year.
“Beyond that, our aim is the mid-tier of artists that have enough fans to create a campaign and have the true ambition of becoming an artist.”
Beyond that, our aim is the mid-tier of artists that have enough fans to create a campaign and have the true ambition of becoming an artist.
Since everyone can release music these days, everyone does, but we’re only interested in those who want to find a fanbase and build a career within music. We don’t want to be the main distributor in the world because that’s not where those artists are.
It’s fairly well known that unless you’re a superstar artist, it can be difficult to make a lot of money from streaming. How viable is it that Corite will provide lucrative investment opportunities for fans or is it more about supporting the artists?
That is true — very little income comes from Spotify. But we are very inspired by the theory of one thousand fans. So if you have one thousand fans, that’s enough for you to be able to live off of your music. We just soft-launched our NFT marketplace that will help artists monetise their work over a longer period of time and have full control over that.
We believe that NFTs will be a huge part of an artist’s career and that is where we are going to see a lot of growth going forward. We are also launching our own $CO token, which is again in the ecosystem of creating a creator’s economy for artists and fans to share in, so that could be a new way for artists to make money.
What’s the future for Corite?
Going forward, we are moving more into becoming a fan engagement platform, where the artist can build their platform, nourish their fan base, reward them and create missions for them. By doing that, we are also opening up more to the rest of the music industry. We’ve seen that there are so many labels out there that want to engage artist fanbases, which is super hard these days.
“We’re not going to replace having your fan base or following on TikTok or Instagram, we see ourselves as a compliment to those platforms.”
We’re not going to replace having your fan base or following on TikTok or Instagram, we see ourselves as a compliment to those platforms. We’re launching something very soon called fan missions, which could be ‘follow me on Spotify’ or ‘follow this playlist’ and when you do that, you will be rewarded by the artist in different ways and in different tiers, based on how engaged you are with the missions.
We will have leaderboards with the ‘top fan of the week’ and so on. That’s where we see the future. And that is very tied together with the fan-funding model, but they will be able to coexist, whether you want to create a fan campaign or just distribute through us. We want to be more flexible and be able to have any artist build and engage their fans on our platform.
Streaming has given the audience more power than ever before and Corite is an evolution of that. How do you see that evolving in the future?
There’s been a lot of talk about not really knowing and being able to communicate with your audience through streaming platforms and that is something artists will demand to be able to do going forward.
It makes no sense that one company is controlling so much of an artist’s audience and I think Spotify and the other streaming services will be much more open to sharing data and not being so protective about it.
A lot of the platforms are also becoming more socially interactive, Spotify implemented the tipping function and I think we’ll see a lot more functions to support artists, which will push our model as well.
What’s the most exciting development happening in the music and technology space to you today?
The gamification of music. It can sound a bit cynical to see the music industry as a game but on one side, we have artists who try to engage their fanbase in a digital world where people’s attention spans are extremely short.
It’s really hard to get people to do things for you. It’s really hard for an artist to explain how important it is to have someone following you on Spotify — for the fan, they’re thinking, I have the artist in my playlist and will just go in and listen to them whenever I want to, I’m following them on Instagram so I’m staying updated with new releases. It’s getting harder and harder for artists to stay connected with their fans, even though it’s never been easier.
“Web3 in music is super interesting. There are many years before it will develop into whatever it will be in full essence.”
So for artists to give incentives to fans is really exciting. Even before social media, you had street teams of fans where they were going around and setting up posters for bands and so on in different cities. That’s how we see Corite – a digital street team.
Web3 in music is super interesting. There are many years before it will develop into whatever it will be in full essence. But on the excitement level, I think it’s extremely interesting and a new opportunity for myself and my generation to experience what the older generation experienced with the internet.
If you could look into the future when Web3 is more developed, what impact do you see it having on the music business?
First of all, in order for it to be decentralized fully, all the streaming platforms will need to be on the blockchain, which I believe will take a lot of time, if that ever happens.
If it continues developing, which I believe it will, I have a hard time imagining they can look away from it because Web3 or blockchain technology is making things more transparent and transparency has been one of the biggest issues throughout the last couple of years. It’s really hard to tell where your royalties are coming from and how much they are and that is something that could be solved with help from blockchain.
Then, the community-building aspect will be extremely important. So for example, NFT projects where the holders will be the ones who get access to releases first or early access to tickets or merch drops. NFT asset technology allows for building fan clubs on the internet and I think that will have a really good effect on the music industry.
How about any challenges that you see on the horizon in the music and tech worlds?
With 70,000 releases every day and a shorter attention span than ever, artists have this pressure of being everywhere at the same time. Presence on all social platforms, creating exclusive content, connecting with fans online while recording, directing their music videos, and being their own art directors. It makes me think of the trending Bo Burnham song, ‘Welcome to the internet’ and the line, “Can I interest you with anything all of the time?”
There’s a generation of artists growing up with social media as something relatively new, where the behaviour is still changing and adapting to reality. This makes it hard for artists to focus on the quality of the music and the relationship with fans, understanding who they are and what they want, while also having to be a jack of all trades.
“I think we will see a shift in the ownership of data, where artists will demand and expect to be able to communicate with their fans.”
Another thing is ownership of data. Artists today struggle to understand who’s listening to their music. Yes, they can tell how many people in Chicago are listening to their music, but they can’t communicate with them other than via the streaming platforms, which is a very one-way communication. I think we will see a shift in the ownership of data, where artists will demand and expect to be able to communicate with fans of their music, which is not the same thing as following someone on Instagram because they have a good sense of style, or whatever it may be.
What would you change about the music industry and why?
Music is such a creative thing and timing is so important based on what’s going on in the rest of the world, different trends and being picked up by a certain generation. It’s so hard to point at ‘this thing triggered this event and therefore that happened’ but there are a lot of people trying to tell artists what to do because they’ve had success before.
Artists, in general, are insecure, care a lot about their art and how it will be received and listen a lot to other people around them. There are so many people trying to tell artists ‘this is the way to do it, you need to focus on this and this,’ but the reality is, it’s really hard to know what exactly will work, except money, which can help get in front of people’s eyes.
“There are so many people trying to tell artists, ‘this is the way to do it’ but the reality is, it’s really hard to know what exactly will work.”
I think people need to be more humble and try different things in order for artists to get their music out there, instead of just trying to copy what has been done before. You can really see through that.
All labels and management companies are looking for things in artists that are unique but at the same time, trying to apply a one size fits all approach. I think that’s holding back creativity. No one really has the right answer in the music industry, which is also why it’s so exciting. You never know what song will open things up for you and it’s typically the song that no one believed in or the move that no one expected.
MBW’s Inspiring Women series profiles female executives who have risen through the ranks of the business, highlighting their career journey – from their professional breakthrough to the senior responsibilities they now fulfil. Inspiring Women is supported by Ingrooves.Music Business Worldwide