The music industry could benefit hugely from the advent of blockchain. The technology could improve royalty distribution, prove creators’ rights, improve delivery and access, and reduce costs.
Like many sectors, the music industry is seeing the first applications of blockchain to its administrative and sharing processes. For musicians and their audiences, this could translate to better creation and enjoyment, and procedures which more fairly reward artists for their efforts.
Digitalization has already delivered new opportunities for music production and sharing over recent decades. Artists from all over the world can work together on a single track and today, there are often as many as ten or more contributors to the creation of a single tune.
But, how is the work of each contributor recognized and recorded effectively? Along with issues of rights and intellectual property, there is also an issue of middle operator costs.
Agents and record companies have often taken a disproportionate cut of the revenue. Today too, music platforms and distributors take a significant percentage of artists profits.
Better Music and Royalties Distribution
The secure, immutable, and trustless nature of blockchain technology could make attributing work to musicians and artists more accurate and effective. And, blockchain technology opens up new avenues of sharing and distributing music to listeners which could better record its patronage and distribute resulting revenues. Musicoin, for example, is a blockchain platform where users “pay to play” but can also build their own music distribution network for rewards.
New blockchain platforms could more effectively reward both musicians and music fans, cutting out some of the monopoly held by traditional high-cut middle operators. Inmusik is another new platform where music fans can invest in a track or an artist that they believe will be popular, earning monthly pay-outs based on any subsequent success.
Furthermore, blockchain’s smart contracts are arguably more difficult to tamper with or falsify than any other type of record. This makes them an increasingly popular choice for recording legal agreements and contracts.
As a blockchain’s distributed ledger can be transparently shared in real-time with permissioned participants, it’s far easier to monitor these contracts. In addition, one can follow what happens to music that is hosted on a blockchain platform.
Artists can more clearly evidence any claims in a dispute. This clarity could help to overcome the challenge that in 2017, only 12% of the total revenue from the music industry went to musicians themselves.
It could also mean that artists and any of their collaborators are rewarded faster. UjoMusic is just one blockchain startup planning a decentralized database of rights ownership.
Not only can putting music and its rights on a blockchain to avoid disputes between artists and agents, but it can also help prevent music piracy. That’s due to blockchain being secure against hackers who wish to act illicitly.
Decentralization and Community Control
And, as with financial transactions on a blockchain, when applied to music too, the technology has no geographical borders, increasing access to content. A blockchain’s distributed ledger means the information it holds can be hosted on computers around the world. This decentralization can mean less censorship or regulatory restriction and greater community control. Of course, decentralization still holds the ongoing challenge of how bad actors and content are managed.
Opportunities for Musicians, Fans and Investors
K-Tune, building on Korea’s K-Pop phenomenon, is building a blockchain platform where artists around the globe, new or already established, can collaborate and have their work attributed. Musicians can sell their skills or find help with their creations.
Budding musicians can also use the platform to sell their collaborations to major record labels with the help of experts and the security of a blockchain record. The K-Tune platform uses an ERC-20 token, KTT, for all transactions and rewards.
Another such platform for collaboration in creating music is Aballoon who are also working to securitize music royalties, creating music backed securities for open trading.
Blockchain could improve the production, administrative, and delivery systems of the music industry. So, what will this mean for another sector that is part of our daily lives? Blockchain could enable better-paid artists, give us more diverse music, better entertainment, and the offshoot economic and social benefits.