"Music is the medium that connects all entertainment"
Interview: Laine Baker, Product Head at Gala Music
Gala Games held the Galaverse Europe 2022 in Malta for three days from June 6-8, 2022. Galaverse is a paid membership event hosted by Gala Games node owners.
The event on the 3rd consisted largely of "Sharing the Latest News of Gala Games" and "Ask Me Anything(AMA) by Topic," and the schedule was held from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. After the official schedule, a dinner was served with performances by artists at a venue, with performances by Tom Misch, Noel Gallagher and George Ezra on the first day, followed by Remi Wolf, Editors, Phoenix, Basejackers and Discloser on the second day. The performance time is about 4-50 minutes.
Considering that the ticket price for the 3-day event is around 6,900USD(=about 9,000,000 KRW) and the round-trip ticket to Malta in Korea is about 3,000,000 KRW in economy, Koreans who attended the event paid at least 12 million won. Of the 800 participants, about 150 were Koreans. I've also been to this event, and through hands-on experience of Galaverse Europe 2022 in Malta and conversations with domestic and foreign officials, I summarize this and that about Gala Games in reports.
The history of Laine Baker, head of product at Gala Music, is a little unusual. He has two degrees from Berkeley, but his career spans the music and gaming industries. In 2015, he stayed in Korea for a year in charge of Nexon's mobile global team. He was in charge of Gala Music shortly after its launch (February 2022), and I thought that Gala Music's vision might reflect his unique career. I interviewed Laine Baker at the Galaverse Europe 2022 in Malta. In addition to Gala Music, I could hear how important a part of Gala Games' business structure is.
Cha Woo-jin: Before the interview, I searched for you on LinkedIn, and your history was very unique. Before I start asking, I want to say that your career was very interesting. The impression is that games and music are mixed evenly.
Laine Baker: Yeah, I'm a pretty weird career in my group. I earned two degrees from music university and I spent many years touring in rock bands. At the same time, I built a career in the game industry, both of which were independent, but I was able to develop a game and music career together.
Cha Woo-jin: I think those experiences would have been very helpful in thinking about the web3-based music business in Gala Music.
Laine Baker: That's right. It's definitely. Alex, who just stood on stage with me, is also a veteran of the music industry. In Gala Music, games, technology, and music are combined. Experts in each industry are learning new things from each other. For example, it is like finding a way to apply the method of profit sharing commonly used in the music industry to the game, or applying the part that is only used in the game industry to the music industry. And there is a difficult part of communication between the game industry and the music industry, when my career helps create synergy between both sides.
Cha Woo-jin: In the current music industry, all profits are concentrated on the top 1% and at most the top 10% of musicians. Streaming platforms are contributing greatly to this structure, and I wonder how Gala Music understands this phenomenon and how to solve the problem. Do you currently have a big vision for the problem of the music industry?
Laine Baker: That's a really good question. Streaming platforms like Spotify are the biggest marketing vessel for musicians, but they don't make a profit there. We think we can really make something better through music. For example, if we engage musicians in campaigns, drop music, and secure more fans through such a process, we can increase the profits that artists earn directly. Of course, they will also be able to earn revenue from existing streaming platforms. We are not trying to replace revenue from other platforms. Gala Games started the business to solve the problems of musicians.
The Node Ecosystem of Gala Music
Cha Woo-jin: I think what I just said will lead to the concept of "decentralization in music," and I would like you to explain the direction that Gala Music pursues.
Laine Baker: I imagine a future in which streaming music forms a music network in which people directly host and service music. But this is just a conceptual thing. I think decentralization in reality is a stage where record labels are not needed. At this stage, the artist will not need a huge marketing agency to make a living.
In terms of technology, Gala Music distributes the Music Node, and holders of the Music Node play a role in allowing the system to run in the music ecosystem. In this structure, owners of numerous music nodes will play the role of a platform that connects artists and fans. Gala Music seeks to implement a decentralized music ecosystem in this way. I think everyone in the network will eventually form a node network. Through that, the artist's influence can spread.
Cha Woo-jin: In my view, Gala Games' node ecosystem is actually closer to an investor ecosystem than a fan. However, fans play a really decisive role in the entertainment industry. In other words, the music node may someday replace the streaming platform, but it does not seem to be a "structure in which fans directly intervene in the music industry," which is commonly mentioned in the web3 music field. For this reason, I would like to ask two questions about the music node.
The first question appears to be a separate group of fans and investors in the node ecosystem at this stage. So if increasing the return on music rather than sponsoring artists is a priority goal for node owners, in other words, if node owners have the same purpose as existing platforms, wouldn't the concept of a "decentralized music platform" be difficult to apply? That's what it is.
Laine Baker: I think that's what you can see. In the node ecosystem, fans belong to a small group. But the difference between gala music and games is that music nodes will continue to be released on demand. 25,000 nodes were sold to about 14,000 people and were designed to spread worldwide. As the popularity of music increases, virtual machines will become more distributed. But more importantly, we don't completely replace platforms like Spotify. This is an important point of view for us to deal with music on Web 3.
We talked a lot with artists, to whom Music Node and NFT were all 'new' sources of revenue. It would be appropriate to see it as a new source of revenue added to existing profits. So we're going to focus on finding ways for artists and fans to meet in a different way.
And basically, the person who ran the node, and the person who purchased the NFT, are all rewarded for entering and contributing to this ecosystem. Early supporters who bought a certain group of music NFTs at a low price will share the appropriate value when the music becomes popular months later or years later. Whether it's a fan or an investor, the fact that we get rewarded for supporting an artist will move us forward.
Cha Woo-jin: From the perspective of music fans, there are two options: owning a music node to contribute to the ecosystem of Gala Music, or purchasing NFT to directly sponsor (or invest in) the artist. However, Gala Games' game nodes are showing very strong power in the field of blockchain games, but will Music Node be able to show great power in the music ecosystem? This is the second question.
Laine Baker: In fact, we don't know how much ripple effect this music node system will have. This can be seen as an early stage. However, as we met with various artists, we found out that they wanted to create gala music and exclusive content. That's how this ecosystem will grow, and I think that's when we get started. The network will actually work when the artist's exclusive content attracts new people. Of course, there are many difficult problems to solve before reaching it, but I think the key to the music node is that music is actually hosted in the transaction process. In the process, it will be possible to perform the calculations necessary to track all players on all platforms.
Ecosystem for Emerging Artists
Cha Woo-jin: In recent years, many 'alternative music business models' have emerged. An "alternative music business model" can be defined as a business model that seeks to find more opportunities with the so-called "Independent Artist," which is not contracted with a major label than a global star. I understand that gala music is one of them. In fact, I wonder how Gala Music can benefit Independent artists and what kind of structure you think.
Laine Baker: That's a good question. I really love Snoop Dogg, but Gala Music is for 'new Snoop Doggs'. This is also why we want to introduce a kind of 'emerging artist program'. The market has a greater need for new players than already successful artists. But existing stars and new artists are not technically equal. Stars can make money through sound sources and NFTs. Newcomers still need to promote their music more. Although it cannot be explained in detail here, it is also considering a structure in which existing artists who have made profits through Gala Music support some of their sales for marketing for rookies. The method may go through a support program for Gala Music, or may be implemented in a different way. Anyway, we have a plan to support new artists. One of the many things we envision is the interconnectivity between games and music and movies, and in that structure, the Emerging Artist Program can be run.
Cha Woo-jin: A kind of fund, right?
Laine Baker: Yes, but it would be something like a DAO managed by the owners of the tokens, but I don't think I can say it publicly yet. Laine Baker: We are meeting with the artists face-to-face and discussing running a campaign with them someday. We think anyone can make their own music and publish NFTs with any artist. It's not important to make it in bulk. Basically, if there is no immediate effect in the process of finding an audience, you can continue to make it small. It will take time, but we will be able to get more and more information. New artists are struggling more than established artists. So I think the way to support new artists is kind of like a scholarship. They will be fully supported by these programs until they grow up.
Cha Woo-jin: That direction seems to be because I think this market is a completely early market.
Laine Baker: Oh yeah, very early every early market.
Cha Woo-jin: Here, the group called Emerging Artists can actually be said to be artists from Asia, Africa, and South America in the global music market. Then, Does Gala Music have plans to focus on specific areas?
Laine Baker: Yes, we haven't officially announced it, but we're working with the first Latin artist. Not only Latin America, but also Thai artists are talking to Korea. I am especially interested in K-POP. The market is very big, especially because there are many fans. But we really want a very smooth experience. K-POP is a very important market, so I don't think our business model or system should be applied poorly. For us now, Korea is a market that needs to be approached very carefully.
Music is the connection between entertainment
Cha Woo-jin: I was very impressed to see Gala Games introduce itself as a 'web3 entertainment company'. This is because it sounded like expanding to music and movies based on games, not a game company, and creating a structure that forms a huge entertainment ecosystem with the three connected. So, how important is Gala Music playing under this big vision?
Laine Baker: That's a really good question. Music is the glue of all entertainment. There is music in the game, and there is music in the movie. Musicians make music videos, documentaries, and game music. But it's also a very painful, expensive, and long process. We believe that the process will be made easy and easy. We are discussing what movie content to make with Snoop Dogg. He has already participated in our released "Spider Tank" game. It is also a supplement to the other game, Town Star. I think this is a signal that music interoperates with other entertainment content. To me, music is a thread that runs through it all.
Cha Woo-jin: Isn't that why your career is so important?
Laine Baker: That's why I joined Gala Music as soon as possible. I told Eric(=Eric Schiermeyer, founder of Gala Games) that I wanted to participate in Gala Music.
Eric Shermeier is now the CEO of Gala Games and was formerly known as the founder of Zynga. Prior to that, he was co-founder and CTO of MySpace.
Cha Woo-jin: I think the business model of Gala Games is the IP business of entertainment. IP in music is a business that manages various rights included in music, such as copyright and adjacent rights, and at the same time, it will be a business model in which artists with such rights are directly managed or nurtured. I wonder if Gala Music intends to sign or manage the artist itself.
Laine Baker: If you ask if we're going to play a role in managing the artist ourselves, I can say it's natural. October London and Jane Handock, who recently dropped NFT, are our exclusive artists. However, we are supporting these new artists not only as NFTs, but also on music platforms. Importantly, they can do whatever they want because they have ownership of all their works. They can choose even when we want to do something exclusive with them. And I really like the very fact that they have a choice.
October London "I Want You” (feat. SnoopDogg)
Jane Handcock “Til We Meet Again”
(Dedicated to the Loving Memory of Beverly Tate)
Cha Woo-jin: Then, I wonder if Gala Music is also considering launching a service or creating a subsidiary to play its role in the long-term stage of music production, distribution, and sales. I wonder if they are thinking about the Gala music ecosystem by creating a distributor of NFT music or acquiring another company.
Laine Baker: We are always open to partnerships. We've had this discussion with Polygon, and we're exploring new ways of working with the Coachella Festival and the Kings of Lyon. We don't have to do everything ourselves. If I could do something better, I could talk to anyone.
TAO Desert Nights Friday Coachella 2022: Presented by Gala
Cha Woo-jin: In many parts of Asia, including Korea, there are many startups specializing in music NFT. I think it would be nice for such companies to have a better relationship with Gala Music.
Laine Baker: Yes, Gala is always trying to make friends with many people. No matter where we are on the Web 3, I think we're building a brand new space together, a different future that we believe is right. It's a very interesting thing.
Cha Woo-jin: This is the last question. Hearing that emerging artists are important, I think Gala Music will be able to compete with companies that are newly entering the music industry like TikTok, not with streaming platforms like Spotify. What is the competitiveness of Gala Music? Simply put, why should emerging artists join Gala Music?
Laine Baker: I actually think the closest service to us is SoundCloud. This is because anyone can discover music there, and new artists can meet new audiences. In this context, the only value that we can provide is education on Web 3 and NFT, and data.
First, Web 3 is a space that has just begun, and many artists don't know what they can do here or how to develop a business model. We can teach them how to meet their audience and make a profit from music, that is, to carve out a new path. We are a new platform, and there are so many new, potential listeners connected to the game.
Second, data is an element for marketing and discovery possibilities. Most artists can't get all the data about fans, sales, or marketing from labels. This data is very important because Web3 is a new and growing platform. We can learn about Web 3 by sharing this data with artists.
Now it is really easy to make music and very easy to listen to. So I don't think there are any problems that we can solve in the area of making or listening to music. But the artist's profits have always been a problem. In particular, it is very difficult to know how the profits are made for artists in this industrial structure.
This is an era in which countless good artists do not earn adequate profits. We focus on the question of how to connect new artists and new fans. I think how to make this connection structure and how to solve this problem are the tasks given to us now.
Cha Woo-jin: I see. Now music is everywhere, so I think we have to work harder. I was happy to talk to you.
Laine Baker: The same goes for me. Thank you very much. But now I think other people will kick us out of this room. (laughs)