Some say the blockchain will revolutionise the music industry in the next few years. Others claim that the existing frameworks are too well-established for blockchain technology to make any significant impact.
Both of these statements represent the wide disparity of views regarding blockchain and its potential in the industry. So which one is right? Well, both and neither.
Blockchain absolutely can create significant change within the music industry. On the other hand, the depth and speed at which that change will likely happen is questionable. Let’s take a closer look at earliest and most promising use cases of the blockchain so far.
The Current State of The Music Industry
When people hear the term ‘music industry’, they tend to think of pop and country music stars that receive airplay on major radio stations and play concerts at large venues. They are certainly important, but they aren’t fully representative of the this wide-ranging niche. According to Billboard, 95% of revenue from the production and sale of music and related products comes from streaming.
However, that revenue stream doesn’t just reflect what major artists make. It represents local artists, and artists whose music doesn’t fit neatly into radio friendly categories (e.g., pop, hip hop, country, R&B, etc.). They are also part of the music industry. In fact, when discussing sheer numbers, there are many more artists falling into these categories than ‘superstars’. The blockchain technology has a great potential to disrupt how those alternative and up-and-coming artists earn a living.
Blockchain Can Facilitate Direct to Consumer Sales
In the past, musicians who were interested in gaining exposure and notoriety would seek out the attention of record labels. If they succeeded, the record label would provide them with a path to releasing music, booking shows, and earning radio play. Today, that’s not the only path to success.
The above is evidenced by the large number of popular artists are now releasing their own music through streaming services like YouTube and Spotify. They are also handling their own marketing, booking, even recording and distribution. In fact, large numbers of artists are now reaching superstar status without signing with major labels. G-Eazy, and Chance, the rapper, both come to mind.
Artists like Gramatik are taking this even further by using blockchain technology. In his case, that has meant minting his own cryptocurrency token that fans could purchase to support his work. Gramatik claims that the blockchain technology enabled artists to release their own music whenever they want and focus on just that, instead of dealing with the industry’s bureaucracy and relying on middlemen to broker deals.
Even major label artists are seeking to use blockchain technology to exert more control over the revenue they generate. The Monero cryptocurrency platform was created specifically for artists. Already it has been adopted by some big name starts including Mariah Carey, Lana Del Rey, and The Lumineers.
Whether they choose to embrace major label contracts or not, blockchain will give artists more creative and financial control.
Blockchain Will Help Ensure Data Integrity
Blockchain technology can help ensure the protection of artist’s intellectual property. It also has the potential to ensure prompt and proper payments, and can even provide the press with a media kit of sorts for each artist.
For an emerging, but not yet proven use case of this, one example is Mycelia for music. Their ‘Creative Passport’ project puts the concepts described above to work. It will be interesting to see if there is any significant adoption of this.
There Are Certain Things Blockchain Simply Won’t Change in The Music Industry
Let’s be realistic: Album sales are dead. There is no rolling back the clock. The idea that musicians will suddenly begin collecting money directly from consumers to purchase entire albums or even singles is absurd. Blockchain won’t roll progress back to a point that was less convenient and more expensive for consumers.
Blockchain will also never bring about the demise of the major record label. As much bad press as they receive, they do provide a valuable service. The take care of the business-oriented tasks that many artists would simply rather not deal with. They have established relationships with media outlets, and they have experienced teams to help musicians reach their goals.
Blockchain has a lot of potential to revolutionise the music industry. However, the best way to achieve that is to be realistic and focus on the areas where that change is likely to happen. This means ensuring integrity of data when it comes to ownership of creative property and artist information, and assisting artists who wish to have more control over the creation distribution and sale of their music and merchandise.
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