Blockchain technology, no matter how promising it is, cannot possibly address all the issues that our society has created. An invincible distributed ledger, however, may fit within certain industries that lack transparency, and the music industry is one of those.
The internet opened the doors to many music bands and artists and gave them the priceless opportunity to be heard globally. At the same time, it took away a fair share of their paycheck. That’s when Napster, the pioneers of the p2p movement in the music space, came into existence.
Napster enabled everyone who had a computer to download songs for free and everybody (except the artists) loved the new digital way of sharing music. Later on, when Napster was shut down due to copyright issues, Apple and iTunes kept the torch burning.
Now we’ve got multiple music streaming platforms, but the problems with piracy, copyrights, and the underpayment of artists are not going away. Add to that the issue of censorship and you’ll get a troubled industry that begs for a fresh solution.
But what does blockchain tech have to do with it?
Fair Pay for Music Artists
Believe it or not, many artists are underpaid. When companies like Apple sell music albums on their platforms, they take at least the third of the retail price. Apart from streaming platforms, there are a bunch of other intermediaries that grab as much as they can. As a result, the artists have to settle for less.
It often forces musicians to spend half of their life touring the world just to support their living instead of creating something new. Tickets to live shows are also often bought out by bots, courtesy of yet another type of intermediary, and later on, resold at a much higher price, and neither the artists nor their fans get to benefit from that.
Blockchain-powered smart contracts can solve the “third-party problem”, eliminate the middleman, and let the artists sell their compositions directly to their fans. Moreover, smart contracts may resolve another issue by sharing the revenue between the band member and the other people involved in music production right at the point of sale.
On top of that, musicians can sell and distribute non-fungible tokens and organize crowdfunding events.
Copyright, Music, and Blockchain
Intellectual property is another burning issue of the music industry that blockchain can address. If we can securely record any information on a distributed ledger, we can use this to save ownership data as well. This data, later on, can be used as legal proof.
The problem with ownership is that there is no universal standard that everyone uses. Hypothetically, when we decide that recording copyright on the distributed ledger is the new standard, we can work out the system that will cover all the aspects of intellectual property including international usage. However, to make that happen, governments all over the world would have to accept this new global standard.
Blockchain vs Music Censorship
Many of us have accustomed ourselves to thinking that we’ve got our freedom of speech and expression, but that’s not necessarily true. All the big corporations like YouTube or Spotify are centralized, and they must comply with the law. This means that countries with monopolized power can easily ban any form of art they find offensive or dangerous.
Music has always been used by people as a form of protest and it is essential to give artists the opportunity to speak up. And as the threat of censorship is still a modern-day reality, decentralization of streaming and distributing platforms can solve the problem.
Three Projects That Make a Difference
There are quite a few blockchain projects that are ready to challenge the current state of affairs in the music industry. From taking care of artists’ fair payments to crowdfunding and open libraries.
Ujo Music is an Ethereum-based project that connects artists and their fans, and strives to liberate the music industry.
With Ujo music, artists get a chance to share their music with no fees and get one hundred percent of their rewards. Additionally, they can split the payments with everyone who was involved in the music production process and sell collectibles. Fans can support their favorite musicians by buying collectibles and tipping, as well as interact with each other and create strong communities.
Musicoin is on a mission to make music accessible. Users can browse through their growing collection of labels and artists, stream music for free, and support musicians. Music lovers can follow their favorite artists, communicate with them, and support them by providing feedback, tipping, and sharing songs.
There are no ads and independent artists can enjoy the benefits of the Pay-Per-Play model. Musicians are free to set a price for their music or go with the Pay-Per-Play system and get paid automatically from each stream of music.
Viberate is arguably one of the largest and most active blockchain music projects to this date. They aim to bring together everyone who is involved in the music industry – artists, venue owners, and festival promoters. Every participant has their own profile with basic info, social media links, photos, videos, track previews, gig dates, and more.
Artists get the opportunity to connect with their fans and potential producers by showcasing their work. And the most active ones can easily reach out to promoters, talent scouts and A&Rs themselves. They can also discover new venues, get gigs, and discover other artists and collaborate with them.
Music industry professionals can keep an eye on new talent and track their work.
Fans can get the hottest news from their favorite artists and their new singles and albums, create lists of the festivals they plan on visiting, vote, and communicate with like-minded people from all around the world.