Swedish music producer sat down for a Q&A with us about why she’s using the Telos-powered music app Zeptagram to monetize her art, the music business in general, COVID-19, and that Game of Thrones ending, of course.
Veteran musician Melisha Linnell recently began auctioning partial rights to some of her songs on Zeptagram. In doing so, she’s helping to pioneer a whole new revenue model for musicians, who can use the Telos-powered dapp as an alternative to traditional middleman-heavy business streams like royalties and live gigs.
In the Q&A below, we explore why Melisha has turned to Zeptagram, and how her experience with blockchain has gone so far.
Melisha spoke to Telos Foundation content producer Peter A. McKay from her hometown Gothenburg, Sweden, where she has a recording studio at Brewhouse, an industrial space that’s been converted into a “culture factory” to host concerts and other events. She previously earned a bachelor’s degree in music production from University of Dalarna. She also teaches music production, mixing and mastering at the Academy of Music and Drama in Gothenburg.
Recently Melisha started working with manager Peter Swartling and is now working on her new EDM/pop album featuring many exciting artists.
In 2019, Melisha released two songs as part of a fan art project called ”Dragon Mother,” based on Game of Thrones.
She also recently started producing songs to a project called SheTrance with artist Nadja Itäsaari. And she is co-founder of an nonprofit called EQLovesMusic, which runs projects in music production and gender equality.
Peter A. McKay: To start, could you talk a little bit about how you connected with the Zeptagram team and, more imporant, the idea of what they’re doing? Were you into blockchain before this?
Melisha Linnell: Ok ? I am a music producer with a recording studio in Gothenburg since many years and have also worked as a piano-vocal artist. I have produced many other artists as well, but I also create my own music. Recently, I created two fan art songs for Game of Thrones, Dragon Mother and The End Song. A friend of mine Andreas Albertsson, who also works with Zeptagram, suggested I should put them on the platform.
I wasn’t into blockchain before, but I know about what it is and that it’s the basis of digital currency. So I thought the link between music and this technology was very interesting.
PM: Cool. Well, how is your experience with Zeptagram going so far? How did you decide which rights to sell from your catalog?
ML: I believe its a very good team behind Zeptagram they have been super helpful and supportive. It’s a brand-new area of trading, but [Zeptagram CEO] Christina Löwenström and the rest of Zeptagram team have many years of experience within the music industry.
I decided to put the Game of Thrones songs on Zeptagram by taking advice from others ?
PM: As an artist, how has the COVID-19 crisis affected you both creatively and from a business standpoint? Just wondering because we’d honestly love it if Zeptagram could help musicians with the economic effects of the crisis in particular, working as an alternative revenue stream to help make up for a lack of live events. But it’s still early days for the app, obviously, so we haven’t heard a lot of feedback from actual musicians yet.
ML: There have definitely been downsides for musicians in this crisis, but my situation is better than most right now, to be honest.
I have of course lost all my gigs during this crisis. In my studio, I also work with mixing and mastering, and there have been fewer jobs there as well.
On the more positive side, I also work as a teacher at the university, teaching the bachelor students within production mixing and mastering. We have the classes online and via Zoom. So that work has carried on.
I think Zeptagram will be a great opportunity for musicians to generate revenue, but it’s still in the early days of the platform.
The live stage is suffering right now, and we have to conform to a new reality with live streaming instead. I have done live gigs online, and at first it felt very strange, with a silent audience. But we have to get used to that.
I’ve had more time to practice my acoustic versions of my songs and will be doing Dragon Mother live soon also.
The song is about the female hero character Danaerys in the series. The song also resonated with me at this moment as my son and I recently got sick. And the message of the song was with me during that time and gave me strength.
It was a lot to handle mentally because of a trauma we went through when my son was younger and was in sick because of Kawasaki’s disease. A traumatic experience for every parent to go through and has caused me to have a lot of anxiety towards this pandemic.
I’ve had to deal with a lot of fears and really wanted to feel like the hero character in my song. And it helped me a lot through it.
PM: Wow. Thanks for being so open about those struggles, Melisha. So did you and your son catch COVID, specifically? I mean, if you’re willing to say. If not, that’s OK too, of course. I just ask because it’s such a hot topic in general right now.
ML: Probably yes, we had all the symptoms. But in Sweden, they only test people who are hospitalized.
PM: OK, back to the music industry for a moment. I guess we should also mention that even before the current crisis, there were a lot of issues with how musicians were compensated and promoted on various digital platforms like Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, etc. What’s been your experience as an artist with these sort of services?
ML: I think streaming was a really good transition of the music industry.
Back in 2000 when free downloading started, the music industry wasn’t prepared for this and suffered a lot of economic backlash.
Streaming was the solution, and now there was a way to get revenues. At first it was problematic with the compensation, but now its good. When we think of streaming as a way to get revenues over time, it’s actually better than CDs because you only sell it in a shorter timeframe.
These streaming companies have made the indie music grow and gave us indie artists more creative freedom.
Of course it’s hard to promote yourself and to get heard. But my experience is still good.
As a producer and songwriter, I have more than 100 releases on streaming platforms with different artists, so that feels very good. But this also means that I haven’t had the time to promote and focus on my own releases so much, so this year I am starting to do that. And I have learned that I have to try and focus more on my own music.
PM: Nice.Well, I think that should cover it for now. One last question, though: As a GoT fan, what did you think of that ending? It was so controversial among the audience at the time, I just have to ask!
Oooh the ending !! Let me tell you…. made my world a bit upside down!
Spoiler alert ? ?
When I released Dragon Mother, the last season was just about to be aired. And in all the seasons Danaerys had been a hero! My song is about this strong female hero who overcame so many struggles so she could release her inner Queen!
Everything about her in the earlier seasons resonated forme. She was brave, strong, confident. and a good empathic leader. Her enemies tried to kill her but she was fearless!
Then the last season aired. Oh, my. And the hero I wrote about in my song just turned evil.
So when I wrote The End Song it had that sadness in it, a former hero and the sinner that walks together hand-in-hand.
I wrote it two weeks before the last episode and I made a prediction in it of Danaerys’ destiny that was almost right also!
What I couldn’t imagine was that Jon was the one that killed her. After trying to talk to her less than 10 minutes!! I was like, couldn’t he try to persuade her into a better path at least for a week?? You just don’t try for ten minutes and then kill her if she doesn’t agree at first ??
Like so many of us GoT fans, I am waiting for the real ending, which is still to come in the book ?