How Blockchain Could Be Used in the Music Industry

The emergence of peer-to-peer technology forced the music industry to change the way it operated or risk losing out to digital piracy. In a similar vein, blockchain promises to shake-up the industry once more, but this time for the better as it could potentially iron out all the problems that have been plaguing artists and record labels for years. Here are some possible ways that blockchain technology can solve these issues.

Better and faster pay for artists

It’s no secret that artists often tangle with services like Spotify over royalties, which are often a drop in the ocean that makes up their earnings. A third party representing the musicians usually collects these fees, and often dictate the amount, frequency, and percentage of payments they will receive.

These issues could be solved by smart contracts on the blockchain, which will ensure the automatic transfer of funds as soon as specific criteria are met. Not only does this yield artists more money as there is no cut paid out to third parties, but funds will also arrive promptly as all the conditions that will trigger the transaction are clear to everyone.

A central repository of copyright ownership

The sheer amount of material created by artists means it can be hard to track which party owns the copyright to specific albums or songs. This can lead to discrepancies concerning pay, with some missing out on owed royalties or not even being paid at all!

Copyright agreements are often messy and confusing. Image from quadriproject.com

With blockchain technology, a single distributed ledger would ensure owners of copyrighted material are recognized, putting an end to disputes over ownership and royalty fees. This can be extended not just to music, but also other content, merchandise, and other material created by the artist in question.

Raising funds

Many artists depend on advances from record labels to work on new music, market themselves, or go on tour. However, artists could potentially raise funds themselves through ICOs to get things up and running without “help” from third parties. Not only do artists directly benefit from this, but fans also get to enter a business relationship with the artist in question.

Slovenian artist DJ Gramatik was the first musician to experiment with tokenizing himself, launching 100 million GRMTK tokens on the SingularDTV platform to fund the creation of more music. Token owners have a vested interest in Gramatik’s work, with smart contracts dispensing a cut of the revenue he generates through his work based on the number of tokens they own. In addition, tokens can also be exchanged for special perks such as VIP access to concerts, or early previews of upcoming work.

DJ Gramatik is the world’s first so-called crypto artist. Image from medium.com/singulardtv

Is blockchain the answer?

Blockchain applications in the music industry are still in its infancy, and there’s a long way to go before solutions to existing problems are created and widely implemented. However, the examples laid out above show that blockchain tech can certainly improve the industry.

Even artists are getting in on the act – Imogen Heap’s Mycelia blockchain-based music eco-system aims to supplant the outdated music industry by putting the power back into the artists’ hands. As with all technological advances, it’s only a matter of time before someone figures it out and sets the new gold standard to which the industry must adhere.

Cover image from digimarc.com

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