How The Music Industry Could Be Saved By Blockchain

POSTED BY   Sarah Etling
5th July 2017
fi How The Music Industry Could Be Saved By Blockchain | TDMB Tech

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.

1. Rights

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

If a company wants to use a particular song, it isn’t as simple as just as just downloading and using it. Take a filmmaker, for example. If they have a piece of music they want to use on their project, weeks of paperwork through external bodies would have to be completed in order to get a license to use the music and the artist then has to agree to the terms of use. Smart Contracts that can be accessed by both parties would deal with this instantly and would cut the process time and cost down hugely.

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.

3. Piracy

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.

'Musicians can identify their biggest fans through their engagement with material using the blockchain, and offer them rewards such as free tickets and music.'Click To Tweet

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.


How The Music Industry Could Be Saved By Blockchain

Sarah Etling

Sarah Elting is Head of Marketing at TDMB. Following a degree in Marketing, she headed to Italy to start up a property consultancy. On her return to colder climates, she embarked on a marketing and creative journey that over the course of 12 years evolved from launching paint collections to heading up the marketing of a successful PropTech start-up and becoming CIM qualified. Sarah now writes about all aspects of strategic marketing and technology and continues to be interested in Property.

Get in Touch With Sarah Etling

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