London based indie-folk artist Casey Pearl is paving the way for up and coming artists, and she’s using crypto currency and technology to do it…
After amassing a loyal following with her enchanting, often melancholy and always sincere music, Casey Peal has become one of the only grassroots artists to follow in the footsteps of artist such as Mariah Carey, Sia and Panic! at the Disco who have delved into the world of crypto currency. However unlike the aforementioned artists who began accepting Monero as currency for their music and merchandise, Casey Pearl has created her own personal currency, ‘PEARL Tokens’, making her the world’s first female crypto artist and placing her at the forefront of not only technological advancement but the advancement of a new way to make a career in music economically viable.
So should indie artists be breaking free from the traditional route of record companies and labels, and be turning instead to self-funding through tokenisation and block chain currencies? We caught up with Casey Peal to find out more about her personal experience with cryptocurrency, record labels and advances in music…
WTYB: Currently you endorse decentralised music, why is it so important for you and other artists to be in control of their music?
Casey Pearl: The songs I write are so precious to me. Being able to record them and perform them live, to know they are being listened to by people all over the world, it is a very special and wonderful feeling. So, to retain artistic control over my music is a crucial part of that wonderfulness. For me there would not be much point in being successful or famous if I had given up my freedom of expression or rights over my music in the process. I’m sure many artists feel the same way, but it is difficult to get music made to a high standard, shared and marketed without backing from some form of intermediary. Record labels cannot often take risks on artists without taking over a lot of the decision making and revenue rights first. Decentralised options based on blockchain technology should give artists the tools to perform many of the functions of record labels and other ‘go-betweens’ themselves, or give them the freedom to produce their best music with whom they choose.
WTYB: Your supporters purchase PEARL tokens, your own crypto currency to support you and share in your revenue and royalties. How did you decide this was the right way for you to market your music?
Casey Pearl: I was looking for ways to release and perform my music without having to compromise on my genre-mixing style. I knew that going with a record label would be possible if I focused on only one of the paths my song writing takes but I can’t restrict my creative output so independence was the way to go. There are so many companies and platforms online now to support independent artists but initial and continued funding is the crucial difficulty. I had been getting into the potential of blockchain technology for a while, so when I came across SingularDTV’s tokenisation platform I thought it potentially provided a great solution; connecting supporters to my future success. I was also attracted to the potential of blockchain technology to allow artists to ‘cut out the middleman’. This new tech means artists don’t need to rely on costly solutions that may also lead to a loss of creative control.
WTYB: How much of a stake do your supporters have in your music?
Casey Pearl: I intend to sell and/or give away 25% of the tokens I have created. Depending on how many tokens a person holds in their digital e-wallet they will receive proportionate rewards connected to any royalties or revenue generated by the content I release via my upcoming EtherVision channel, or by avenues such as live performance and merchandise. I want to build an ongoing relationship with my token holders, giving them music previews, copies of new releases, exclusive content, so they are part of the journey they have enabled me to take.
WTYB: With so many self-starting musicians nowadays, do you think the tokenisation of artists is the future of the music industry?
Casey Pearl: The concept of sharing future benefits with the people who enabled you to achieve you goals is wonderful and artist tokenisation makes that possible in a simple and quick way. Therefore I’m sure many artists will want to utilise this tech. I don’t feel that tokenisation will take over from the traditional industry just yet but I would love to see it develop into a large-scale, viable alternative in the growing independent music scene. The use of crypto-currencies and blockchain technology are still in their infancy, and there is currently still a great deal of mistrust and confusion about how it all works; some governments feel threatened while others embrace it. Therefore I think that the developers like SingularDTV will need to ‘convert people’ before buying artist tokens becomes mainstream. I am one of the guinea pigs, testing out the process, from tokenising to releasing and distributing through my EtherVision channel. It is a risk for me as well, as it is not tried and tested, but I strongly believe in the technology and really want it to benefit artists around the world.
WTYB: What are the main influences to your music?
Casey Pearl: My family has had artists and musicians in it for generations and I have been brought up surrounded by Caribbean, African and Celtic traditional music. There are also music lovers without boundaries, like my mum, who introduced me to the special voices of the likes of Donny Hathaway, Nina Simone, James Taylor and Jill Scott. Rhythms and percussion have always drawn my attention, so the beats and bass line for a song can come as clear as the melody when a song first forms in my mind. I am drawn to and inspired by eclectic artists with unusual voices and styles such as Bjork, David Bowie, Kate Bush, Benjamin Clementine, Florence and the Machine and Flying Lotus. They experiment but retain a strong identity in their music; they leave us excited to see what’s next.
WTYB: You combine many genres – blues electro beats, folk to name a few – How do you manage to maintain a coherent sound whilst doing this?
Casey Pearl: I was initially a bit worried that some of my songs were too different, Celebration with its nuances of 80s and 90s UK reggae, and Heart of Stone, with its melancholy folk storytelling. However, I have learned, through the wonderful feedback of audiences, that my voice and individual style is the strongest feature of each song and that people find the combinations of genre complementary and interesting.
WTYB: Who are your artists to watch for 2018?
Casey Pearl: I don’t know what the charts will love but there are artists who I would love to see perform this year and whose new albums I have been anticipating. Cuban twins Ibeyi have released their new album, Ash and are touring now. I loved the debut album Zanaka by Jain, a French artist whose music videos are as engaging and bright as her music, so I am looking out for her upcoming new releases which should be coming soon.
WTYB: What advances in how music is managed and music technology do you think we will see in the next few years?
Casey Pearl: One new advance that I have just found is BlockItDown, a new copyrighting platform that allows anyone to record their copyright on the blockchain simply and instantly, setting out who owns the composition, including the agreed percentage for co-writers/collaborators. They are also collaborating with PRS to simplify the collection of artist royalties in the future. Copyright is still a very grey area in music production and results in so many battles. Copyright registration on a publically recorded blockchain ledger should make these disputes much simpler to resolve. I am sure many more blockchain linked revenue and distribution platforms will be appearing, and time will tell as to which has the best approach. It was also suggested to me by a cyberspace enthusiast that I should have an avatar designed so I could perform live gigs in the growing cyberspace community…who knows! All I am sure of is that change will be rapid and constant and the challenge to artists is to be aware of and make the most of those developments on their own terms.
WTYB: What can we expect from you in the next year?
Casey Pearl: With the funds I have raised from my token launch I will be getting into the studio to work on and record my new music and develop existing songs. I am looking forward to some interesting collaborations too. I am going to be performing some gigs in London, the first will be at Archspace in Haggerston on 21st April, then I will do some performances around the UK. I will be releasing update videos of studio progress and live performance, and giving tasters of what I will be releasing on EtherVision when it launches mid to late 2018.
Check out Casey Pearl’s Music and story below…