Despite boasting a career of more than 15 years in the gaming ecosystem, John Caldwell, co-founder of software company ASG Solutions, had a whole different life in the music business before gambling.
Working alongside acts that boasted sales of more than 60 million in the 1990s, Caldwell, who now works in the gambling/crypto intersection, recounts his time in music in a new CasinoBeats column.
We saw the little bear icon in his file directory, and we knew we had a problem. All he wanted to do was download a song. Ironically, a song of our own. He couldn’t understand how someone got hold of a song that hadn’t been released or even performed in public yet.
Now, his computer was slowly but surely shutting down. The first thing that went was the internet. The browser wouldn’t connect. Eventually, the computer went completely kaput. He had to get the drive completely reformatted and start all over. I shudder to think how many songs and song ideas were on that computer.
“I’m never downloading music again,” he said. “This isn’t worth it.”
Many a person felt this way. As much as they loved music, the tech had done them wrong and they were done with it.
He held true to his word for about ten years. I think the iPhone 4 was the first time he dared venture into the iTunes store. He had developed a trust for the App Store, and indeed for Apple itself.
As late as they were to the party, the gatekeepers of the music business caught up, and found a way to make the tech safe and keep some semblance of their prior revenue model intact. They had put a toll booth on the road, but what they didn’t realise is that other people had built other roads, and given customers a choice. Ah, the dreaded choice.
“I’m never using crypto again,” my friend said. “I clicked a link from a guy I’ve known for years, and it took all my money.” (in this case an Ethereum token, but frankly it could be any crypto).
Everyone who ventures out at all into crypto in all likelihood has been scammed. It’s almost like a badge of honour to some. I myself have been scammed at least twice, and it might be more. It’s part of the learning curve with crypto. But, it’s been years since I’ve fallen victim. There are two reasons for that. First, the tools have improved. A lot. Second, I’ve learned how to avoid scams.
Each time I have been scammed, and in each of the examples above, someone trusted someone else or trusted something (a link). That’s the beauty of crypto. If you do it right, you don’t have to trust anyone or anything.
The record companies never had a choice when it came to dreading the future. It hit them before they could do anything. The banks, however, have seen crypto coming for years. Yet, they still haven’t really done anything about it.
As I write this, Morgan Stanley Investment’s chief global strategist published an article entitled ‘Will Bitcoin end the Dollar’s reign’. In that piece, he says the following:
“Tech-savvy people are not likely to stop looking for alternatives, until they find or invent one.”
And this is the point. Twenty years ago, tech savvy people found a way to move music that circumvented the existing decades long infrastructure that was in place. It took a while, but even the most staunch opponents (like my friend above) capitulated and it’s now the accepted means of transmitting music.
A group of tech savvy people gathered in 2009 and found a way to move money around that was outside the existing financial infrastructure. The banks know they must adapt.
Gaming customers are spread all around the spectrum of early adoption. These are your customers. While it won’t be their iPhone 4 that the staunch opponents are moving money around outside of the traditional banking structure – it probably will be their iPhone 14.
John Caldwell is the co-founder of ASG Solutions, a software provider of blockchain and crypto products to the gaming industry. Prior to ASG, John spent four years as a director at PokerStars, and four years as the first CEO of PokerNews.com.
Prior to gaming, he had a 15 year career in the music business as an artist manager and record label president, working with Stone Temple Pilots, Hootie and the Blowfish and others.