Blockchain has received a ton of press in the last year. Check out a few ways that blockchain might provide a more fair and sustainable creative industry. Here are three reasons blockchain holds potential for the music industry in particular.
Data Integrity Is Everything
Content is king. In other words, intellectual property is the raw material for digital economies. Who creates it? Artists, of one kind or another. Blockchain technology promises to be able to help protect intellectual property like never before. Because of the way verification of data works on a blockchain, to smudge one’s digital signature or claim content belongs to you is kind of like arguing with mathematics. A blockchain is also updated every few minutes meaning that royalty payments on music usage happen almost in real-time, instead of 6-18 months afterwards in an unreadable PDF). Verified ‘album-sleeve’ metadata such as recording artists and producers is easier to store, creating an ecosystem around session musicians and production library music. The ‘Creative Passport’ concept behind Imogen Heap’s Mycelia For Music acts as a sort of portfolio on a centralized database for artists to network. It will be intriguing to see whether the concept of a global music industry artists network will succeed.[embedded content]
Blockchain won’t replace the music industry
Blockchain models won’t replace existing music industry norms (such as having separate teams manage publicity, accounting, marketing) in the same way that recycling hasn’t replaced waste disposal. Models like Kobalt allow artists access to their own reports and statistics without infringing on the payment mechanisms taking place via their record label. It’s a hybrid system that has been succeeding since its launch in 2000 in response to artists feeling left in the dark regarding their payments. But few artists want to manage their own admin. So let’s not throw out the idea of a marketplace for helpful intermediaries such as publishers, distributors, publicists, marketing agencies and content partners and other roles traditionally filled by labels. Claiming that labels will be entirely replaced by software and smart contracts is a short-sighted claim probably based on blockchain hype. There will always be a need for tastemakers, who will always control a stake in the revenue. Making a slow move towards direct fan-to-artist payment is motivated by the need to filter out the music industry deadweight in order to create a less volatile economy which is more in line with fans’ taste.
A new set of payment options
Artists who have received investment from their fans through the tokenization of their work are more likely to retain those fans. When a fan parts with money, the item purchased becomes more valuable than it was before, right? They’re invested. The music industry could benefit from more loyalty between artists and fans, a lower turnover of music published on a global scale and a longer shelf-life for chart artists. Blockchain technology isn’t the golden fleece, but it just happens to be a good option for emerging artists right now. And more importantly than being a good option, it’s an option at all.