Do musicians make good entrepreneurs?
It depends on the person. In my case, yes, although I was an entrepreneur before I was a DJ. Today, I am the founder of and run 3 companies aside from being a DJ and producing music. I have always been a creative entrepreneur with a lot of ideas. I see problems in the music industry and develop products for it. Fangage, a company that I launched three years ago, is a good example. It deals with the issue of having a lot of fans on Facebook and Instagram but not knowing how to reach them and who they are.
How does Fangage work?
Fangage works as a service company that builds websites for artists where they can post content and where fans can register to unlock the content in exchange for their data. The artists develop their own database of fans that they can send a message or email to, through the system, instead of having to go to social media and pay a third party to reach their fans. We have around 30 artists using the system right now. The artists still need social media, but it is used differently.
You cannot build a sustainable business on a platform that is not yours. If you manage to get your followers on your own platform, you will always have that core base you can reach and engage with, no matter what. When fans register on the platform, the more information they leave about themselves, the more content they unlock. It is trading content for data.
Fangage is about collecting data, which is a sensitive subject at the moment. Are people more reluctant to share data?
The idea is to put control back where it belongs: in the relationship between the fan and the artist. Fangage fits into the trend of 1-on-1 data sharing. You decide to share whatever data you like with the artist and no one else. It is not owned by Fangage or Facebook. You have that relationship of trust with the artist on the other side and you trust them to not misuse the data in any way.
“People are too much out of the moment nowadays, they take photos to relive it later. I am part of that generation and I struggle with it every day. It is addictive.”
Can you tell us about Fangold?
It is a P2P loyalty system that we are developing on blockchain that is going to be an extension of Fangage. It allows you to earn money and tokens by supporting your favourite artists and promoting their content, and also allows you to unlock an experience that you cannot buy with money. The Fangold application cuts out the middle man. We are building it right now and are crowdfunding both the Fangold and Fangage projects under one hat.
How are new technologies influencing the future of the music business?
When it comes to online technology, artists are becoming more aware of the necessity to have that 1-on-1 connection with their fan base and Fangage really helps with that. When it comes to touring, I don’t know if we are ready for Skype DJ sets yet. People still want to feel that personal connection. However, when shows get so big that you are watching the artists on large screens, you begin asking yourself why you are there instead of at home with a live stream.
The connection between artists and their fans, both online and offline, is important, and I see that for myself; the appreciation of people when you do small shows and take the time to take a photo with and talk to them. People are willing to pay for a more intimate and exclusive experience with the artist too. They do not want to pay for the stadium experience anymore.
What other projects are you involved with?
I am involved with several projects which work because I have the right people engaged in each of them. I am just the guy behind the steering wheel with the directions and the ideas. I launched an anti-hangover product as well as the Heartfeldt Foundation―a platform for sustainability supported by influencers. We launched the foundation during this year’s Amsterdam dance event, and I am offsetting all the CO2 emissions from my flights with a company called GreenSeat by Climate Neutral Group.
We managed to sign up three influencers, a TV personality from the Netherlands and two other DJs so far and hopefully, in a couple of years, we will sign up enough influencers to really make an impact. If we have 100 influencers with a 1 million reach each, we can impact 100 million people and really make a huge difference.
What do you enjoy the most: being a musician or an entrepreneur?
I like the diversity. I enjoy being on stage but if I only DJ I might burn out and I need more depth. Now, I can bring my entrepreneurial and creative side into the studio, which is a good thing