There are many that believe blockchain has the capacity to revolutionise the music industry. For every supporter, however, there are those that claim that the existing industry frameworks are too well-established for blockchain to be able to break through. These points of view are a classic example of the wide disparity of opinions when it comes to blockchain and its potential uses. So which one is right?
The answer is both and neither. As it stands, blockchain has the potential to create a significant change in the music industry but it also unlikely to be something that happens quickly.
The music industry now
When people hear the phrase ‘music industry’ they usually think of pop singers and bands that play huge arena tours and receive airplay on all of the big stations. Whilst they are important, they are by no means representative of the wide-ranging niche and Billboard estimates that 95% of revenue actually comes from streaming.
This figure doesn’t truly represent what major artists make but rather it represents local artists and those whose music doesn’t fit into radio-friendly categories. When we talk about numbers, it is these smaller acts that make up the majority of the industry, rather than the global megastars. Blockchain technology has incredible potential to revolutionise the way that these up-and-coming artists make their money.
Direct to consumer sales
Previously, artists who wanted to gain exposure and notoriety would try to get the attention of major record labels. If they were successful their label would give them a contract and provide them with a way to release their music, book shows, and earn radio airtime, but today, this is not the only way to make it big.
Today, a large number of artists are releasing their music themselves over music streaming services such as YouTube and Spotify. They are also taking care of their own marketing, recording, distribution, and even booking. Growing numbers of artists are able to become superstars without even signing with a label, something that would have been unheard of several years ago.
Artists like Gramatik are taking this to a whole new level by taking up the use of blockchain technology. In his case, this means that he made his own cryptocurrency that fans were able to purchase in order to support his work. This provides a way for artists to realise their own music as and when they choose, rather than having to handle the music industry bureaucracy and middlemen.
Even big labels are using blockchain tech to get more control over the revenue that they are generating. An example being the Monero platform which was created just for musicians and artists. It has already been adopted by some of the big name stars such as Lana Del Ray, Mariah Carey and The Lumineers.
Ensuring Data Integrity
Blockchain is also able to help when it comes to ensuring the protection of an artist’s intellectual property. It is able to facilitate payments and can even provide the media with a press kit for each artist. One example of this is Mycelia for music and their ‘Creative Passport’ project.
When it comes to buying music, album sales are long dead and it seems that there is no way to reverse this. The concept that musicians will now be able to collect money directly from consumers to purchase albums or tracks is just not going to work and not even blockchain has the ability to roll back the clock that far.
It is also highly unlikely that blockchain will bring around the demise of any major record labels. As much negative press, as they receive, they do provide a much-needed service such as taking care of business-orientated tasks that most artists would rather not deal with. They have established relationships with media outlets and they have also experienced teams on hand to help musicians reach their goals.
There is no doubt that blockchain has a huge potential when it comes to revolutionising the music industry. This said, it seems that the best way to achieve this is to be realistic about where this change can take place. This means that the integrity of the data should be ensured when it comes to taking ownership of creative property and artists information, whilst also assisting artists who wish to have more control over the creation, distribution and sale of their music and products.