How The Music Industry Could Be Saved By Blockchain
by Amy Bennie
The music industry isn’t in great form at the minute, revenues are dipping due to ongoing piracy and illegal use of content, and artists are out of pocket since streaming services like Spotify have been inadequately compensating for the use of their music.
A recent article written by musician Imogen Heap has opened the eyes of many to the possibility that blockchain might be the key to saving the current state of the music industry. So let’s take a look at the three ways that blockchain can help.
Whilst a single artist or band’s name might be attributed to a song or a piece of music, it is extremely difficult to clarify who owns the rights to the recording. From the singer, writer, producer, record label and the many other people that contribute to a single song, rights need to be given to all. This is where blockchain comes in. A ledger would store a digital fingerprint of each song registered within the blockchain, including the rights to the everything from lyrics, music, cover art and distribution and the percentage of royalties each will receive. All of these contributors currently have their own separate databases to keep track of who owns the rights to the music, but none of these databases links to each other. Blockchain allows the data to be accessed by all parties but cannot be edited, making the process clear and simple.
2. Middle Men
Similarly, if an artist’s music gets played on the radio or on a streaming service, it can take over a year for the royalties payment to reach their bank account, and many middle men such as record labels and streaming services often take a huge cut of royalties first, which leaves the artists and songwriters with a very small percentage of the profits. By using blockchain, the payment can be sent directly to the artist instead of through a long chain of middlemen who all take their cut. Ujo music is a new business opening this month that will be focussing on doing just that: once music is downloaded, the payments are automatically sent to the artist and collaborators. This means that many smaller or new musicians will be able to make money without big corporations taking a huge cut.
Buying music has long been a thing of the past. From torrents, to ‘ripping’ music off youtube, to using a free Spotify account, there are so many ways to access music without paying for it, whether legal or not. Each time a user downloads music through free or illegal sources, the revenue of the industry as a whole to decreases.
Platforms such as Pledge Music and Peer Tracks are both companies using blockchain to combat piracy. Songs are uploaded to a blockchain database which fans then pay to access. Every instance of a song played creates a unique record on the blockchain. Any content that is illegally removed or ‘ripped’ from the codec would be unreadable to the player making illegal downloading useless. The platform is designed not only to prevent piracy but to bring artists and fans closer together as musicians can identify their biggest fans through their engagement with material using the blockchain, and offer them rewards such as free tickets and music.
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It has been clear for years that the music industry has not been able to keep up with technological advancements and new ways of listening to music. It needs a drastic change to keep up with the times and it seems blockchain has the answer to some of the biggest issues the industry is facing.