Blockchain Technology could Ease Monetization Woes in the Music Industry.

Preamble- Blockchain use cases highlight or show possibilities of the use of blockchain technology in various industries. As we know blockchain is gaining strong tides globally and has easily seeped its way into unimaginable cases. This use case is Music.

The music industry is one that generates returns weekly, daily even by the hour. It consists of companies and persons that earn money by creating original songs ideas, selling live concerts and shows, audio and video recordings, and the organizations and associations that aid and represent music creators. Individuals in this industry are songwriters and composers who create new songs and musical pieces and the singers (who could be embodied in one person), conductors and bandleaders who perform the music, music publishers, music producers, etc.

Beyond the glitz and glamour

Musicians/ Artistes are seen as one of the wealthiest sets of people. Although wealth encompasses other things, a big part of wealth is high revenue/income turn out. Unfortunately, this may not be the case for many talented artists putting their music out there in expectation of huge returns. The monetization problem has come with changing times but has since not been totally dealt with. This problem has been cawing at the windows of seemingly flourishing artistes and might be a scarecrow in the field for underground/upcoming acts.

The music industry has been projected to grow from $1.4 billion to $17.2 billion dollars between 2012 and 2021 by experts. This shows there’s a whole lot of money that should be distributed according to rights to involved parties but that is not always the case. Different distribution platforms draw up plans for artists, producers or labels that but the income distribution ratio of many are controversial and unsettling. From live experiences, these parties don’t get paid in time or in full sometimes. The revolutionary blockchain may have a way out.

It is no news that physical music sales are no longer the pattern. Gone are the days when artistes burn Mp3 songs on to compact discs and distribute them through agents in markets for sale. News has it that physical sales have continued to decline (down 7.6 percent in 2016), and a quick look at music sales platforms will show that albums rarely sell for 10–15 dollars for one. Albums were huge and still are but it doesn’t generate as much profit for labels, leaving a laudable gap to fill. Sources say the median income for musicians in 2017 was $26.96 per hour. This is a miserly wage in this profession when considering the worth of Beyoncé (who had a pre-tax income of over $100 million dollars), Adele ($69 million), and Taylor Swift (who earned $170 million in 2016).

What can Blockchain do in the Music Industry?

The currently popular distributing platforms are Tidal, Spotify, Soundcloud, Amazon, AppleMusic amongst others. They came in as a revolution of their own kind and the top ten music streaming platforms have reportedly garnered over 250 million monthly customers, globally. Consumers have grown to prefer music discovery and listening through these platforms and this may be throwing losses at the previously big ‘music websites’ that were the first goto option.

Some Record labels may have resorted to cutting deals for their team with the streaming services while many independent artists continually seek for a spotlight to boost consumer buy-ins. Even at that, a million streams on Spotify usually yields about $7,000. Splitting proceeds producers, engineers, and the record company, the artist typically earns about $2,100. Some platforms have way lower payment average for the artiste.

Blockchain has great potential to proffer a lasting solution. Developers have seen a problem and have sort to innovate a system that uses Smart contract technology to make royalty payments and rights management more equitable. Top earners and struggling artists will have fair chances at equitable income distribution.

Blockchain Technology will replace intermediaries as in the case of other business contracts with automated processes. It could also foster a more secure platform for creatives to promote their craft with a certain level of assurance against piracy. Innovators have envisaged ways to create platforms on blockchain technology to stream music and have the royalties accumulate directly to the artiste at relatively smaller rates.

This will be a never before seen different angle for creatives as there will be a bridge gap between the returns to personnel earning a living from music from before and after blockchain use. The way music is produced, bought, sold, streamed and managed will be a fair and transparent way through Blockchain.

The Trend Setters

Speaking of the Blockchain use case in music in futuristic terms is not to say that nothing has been done in this light but there is not much recognition yet of what changes the technology will bring in the music industry. Quite a number of individuals have established companies to enforce music business technology.

CHOON in Devizes England is a music streaming and digital payment platform that uses blockchain to fairly pay artists in a timely manner. Choon’s platform is Ethereum-based and it enables artists to set up smart contracts with each song contributor, and 80% of total revenue is certain. This eliminates the need for an artist to wait for yearly payments, Choon avails an almost instant reward system per streams the DLT recorded for any given day. The blockchain also facilitates crowdfunding for up-and-coming artists and rewards listeners for creating personalized playlists.  Artists like Tala, Darude and Guy J have used and use Choon to stream their music receiving a larger share of revenues.

MUSICOIN in Hong Kong, China is a music streaming platform that supports the creation, consumption, and distribution of music. Their blockchain music platform allows for the transparent and secure peer-to-peer transfer of music as in the nature of the technology. They created a coin that is used for music-related trading Musicoin reportedly pays off 100% of all streaming revenue to the artist in the absence of intermediaries.

OMI (OPEN MUSIC INITIATIVE) in Boston, Massachusetts is a not-for-profit on a quest for open source protocol in the music industry. It is comprised of 200 members presently.

The Open Music Initiative is helping to identify the music rights holders and originators so they can receive fair royalty pay-outs with exploring the use of blockchain. They believe that blockchain can bring transparency and deeper data insights, for reasonable artiste payment proportion. Soundcloud, Red Bull Media, and Netflix are a few of their members. Sony, YouTube, and Spotify have as well joined the OMI to modernize and streamline royalty payment mechanisms.

These are just three of the various existing blockchain music-related initiatives. Some other known ones include BLOKUR in Oxford, United Kingdom; SMACKATHON (Miami, Florida), EMUSIC of New York, NY; VOISE in Ottawa, Canada; MUSICLIFE in Singapore; BLOCKPOOL of London, England, etc.

The music industry has been here from time immemorial, concerned parties should definitely be looking into more ways to adopt the blockchain technology in this ever lucrative and worldshaking industry.

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Credits- Medium, Sam Deley, Wikipedia, Sam Mire.





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