Orfium is Ready to Revolutionize the Music Industry
The music industry has changed massively since the introduction of the internet, for both good and bad. In the positive, artists are able to explore new musical styles, experiment with technology, and find inspiration from all over the world. Listeners have access to virtually every song ever written at their fingertips. Unfortunately, at the same time, artists have completely lost control over how their music is consumed and how they themselves are compensated for their efforts. Listeners have gone from appreciating and buying music to expecting new music every five minutes, and often valuing none of it. The leaders in the industry—meaning established labels and artists—are making money while emerging artists are just hoping to see free plays on their tracks in hopes that they’ll land some decent gigs. Now enter Orfium, a fresh response to a very broken system.
Chris Mohoney (CEO) and Drew Dellis (President) founded Orfium on the revolutionary premise that artists are entitled to be fairly paid for their work, and allowed to control its dissemination. Now they’re working to establish a new system based on that proposition by not only paying out an unprecedented 80% of monetization, but by giving musicians full control over how their music is distributed and consumed. In order to understand exactly what Orfium is about, we sat down with the cofounders who were more than happy to explain what the platform is, what challenges they’re addressing, and what comes next for both musicians and listeners.
Orfium Team, left to right:
Aggelos Arvanitakis - VP of Engineering
Christopher Mohoney - CEO
Michael Petychakis - CTO
Dimitris Papaspyros - Director of Engineering
Drew Delis - President
Explain exactly what Orfium is.
Orfium is a social music platform where artists can promote and monetize their music, and where users can discover, listen, and share great music. We view ourselves as problem solvers for the music industry; while other platforms only perform a limited set of functions, Orfium aims to be a complete integrated solution. It is a very large project that encompasses discovery, listening, social, retail, licensing, and music rights management solutions. For most people it functions as a social, cloud-based music listening and discovery platform.
Tucked underneath it has several different account types for different roles in the music industry including artists, labels, distributers, publishers, event promoters, and music media outlets each with their own set of tools unique to their needs. Each of these roles is integrated in such a way to compliment the others to help them collaborate towards accomplishing the ultimate mission which is to bring great music to the world and build relationships between artists and listeners. Orfium aims to help each participant in a manner that is not at the expense of any other. This is a huge task and we are still just getting started, however we are working hard every day to add and refine features as well as grow the music library available to listeners.
What role do social music platforms play in the modern music industry?
Social platforms are powerful growth catalysts to the music industry and their significance continues to increase each year. Most of us learn about new artists and music from friends in our social circles often via links they share on social media platforms. Though useful as promotional tools to anyone in the industry, social media is especially important to emerging artists who often solely depend on it to reach fans especially if they have not yet had wide exposure.
What differentiates Orfium from the current biggest platforms like Spotify, SoundCloud, and Apple Music
There are many functional differences but really the biggest difference is our philosophy which drives every decision we make. Orfium puts artists first and our number one priority is artist freedom and flexibility. We believe artists and rights-holders should be in control how their music is consumed and distributed and be able to pursue all opportunities without having to worry about contractual restrictions. Orfium allows artists to directly upload and provides the most customizable and flexible release policies, offers the most monetization options with highest royalty payout passing 80% of gross revenue to the artists, unlimited free hosting, and the ability to opt-in/out of each service on each track at any time. For the longest time artists have been getting the short end of the stick, yet they are the ones creating the value. People often lose sight of the fact that without the artists there is no music industry, and its time for that to change.
For listeners, Orfium provides a seamless integrated experience that they would only get separately on Spotify, SoundCloud, and Apple. Both Spotify and Apple have just about all the popular songs you can think of, however they lack the social experience, underground music, and remixes that SoundCloud provides. SoundCloud’s lacks a lot of popular music, its premium streaming feature is not very well integrated, and the interface for listeners to discover music and manage their playlists is much more difficult to use. We are still working on expanding Orfium’s music library but it already has the underlying infrastructure to offer a much better all-in-one experience to listeners, and every day we get closer to that goal.
What are the biggest problems with the current options for artists? For listeners?
The three biggest problems for both artists and listeners are barriers of entry, fragmentation, and interruptions of experience caused by takedowns of uncleared content. Every major retail platform requires artists to go through a third party in order to sell their music on those platforms, and if they want to monetize their music in other ways such as through publishing, licensing, broadcasting, and rights management, they must spend a lot of time managing multiple independent services that only do one thing. Also retail platforms such as Spotify and Apple music won’t host free promotional music at all, and SoundCloud charges artist’s a subscription to host their music. For listeners, it is very common for people to have some of their older music in their iTunes, some of the newer music they listen to on Spotify, and some underground music they listen to on SoundCloud. It is very difficult for listeners to be able to listen to all of this music on the same playlists. The takedown issue primarily relates to uncleared copyright in remixes and DJ sets and every major platform except YouTube has had serious issues clearing this content and assigning the revenue it generates to the proper rights-holders.
How is Orfium addressing those issues?
Artists can upload unlimited music for free directly to Orfium and opt-in or out of every service on a per track basis by simply checking boxes in a menu. Orfium, unlike any other platform, offers every single monetization service currently possible for digital music including retail, distribution, licensing, publishing, rights management and remix monetization all through one simple upload gateway. If artists don’t want to monetize a particular track but would rather release it as a free promotion, they can do that too and unlimited hosting is provided for free. We give artists total flexibility and control of their music at all times with no financial risk (no upfront costs) or legal risk (every service we offer is non-exclusive and can be opted-in or out at any time). When artists upload their music to Orfium, they decide if it will be free or premium, how much it will cost, who can listen to it, and how. We feel that we should only make money if we are able to add value for the artists, and we do not want to restrict artists in any way. We know that if we do a good job we won’t need contracts to get them to stick around and continue to use our services.
For listeners the goal of Orfium is to elegantly integrate all underground and popular music in one place so they can have it all on the same playlists, on the cloud, portable and accessible from anywhere, saved and backed up so that it can’t be lost. We also know discovering great music can be very difficult in a sea of endless content so we’ve created a powerful search engine with many ways to narrow results including by genre and mood, the ability to follow artists, tastemakers, and playlists, and we are currently working on implementing intelligent recommendation algorithms that will help the best music bubble up to the top based on the individual listener’s tastes.
In regards to remix and DJ set takedown issues, Orfium, like YouTube, has a rights management infrastructure that makes it easy for original rights-holders to generate income whenever their music is used in remixes and DJ sets. As long as the rights-holders are getting paid, they are happy and rarely will issue takedowns, which creates a better experience for artists and listeners.
What do Independent and Signed Artists stand to gain from Orfium?
Orfium gives them a voice and the ability to be truly independent at running their business. Orfium also provides a benchmark and new standard for deal terms that they can compare their offers to. It is a place where artists can not only promote their music and connect with fans, but also monetize their music in every possible way in a one-stop shop. It is both convenient and serves as an educational tool that makes them aware of all of the possibilities they may not have known about. By solving problems for artists and simplifying management of their business they will have more time to focus on creating music, which benefits everyone.
What comes next for Orfium?
A lot! Our main focus right now is growing the music library in order to bring more fans to the site. Simultaneously, we are working on a ton of new features, including DJ sets, podcasts, groups, radio, recommendations, and many more. We are also constantly refining and improving the performance of existing features. It really is an ongoing process that continues to evolve based on community input and feedback and we welcome everyone to participate!
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