Blockchain: Rocket from the Crypto – Features


For the music industry, the timing is perfect. The digital era has been a time of possibility, opportunity and connectivity, but it’s left a teenager’s bedroom of bureaucratic carnage in its wake. Clued-up musicians are going public about how little they see of the profits their work generates, overwhelmed collection agencies and their time-worn methods are creating log-jams in the flow of royalties, while the lack of accurate metadata tagging on YouTube means cash meant for artists has further bloated the piles of cash idling in these kitties of unclaimed revenue, known in the industry as ‘black boxes’. Touts and their bots are also putting distance between artists and their fans by manipulating the ticketing market. Anyone who can fix these problems won’t be short of friends, and Da Silva is fully on board: “It’s going to make a difference because it’s tackling the major issues that exist in the industry.” Coldcut’s Matt Black, who has invested in a number of projects, smells blood: “Blockchain has the disruptive potential to wrench power back from the elite.”

Which is where the start-ups come in. Spotify has nudged revenue away from artists, but their perceived largesse – spending $500m on their New York offices after announcing $500m losses in 2016 – illustrates why music delivery services like Resonate, Ujo and Musicoin spy an opportunity to eliminate costly middle-men. There’s a quick win: the lightweight code framework means these services are cheaper to run, so most of the 30 per cent cut that digital outlets take can go back to the artists. This isn’t just a theory: after seeing Ujo release Imogen Heap’s ‘Tiny Human’ in 2015, the first major track released on the blockchain, Ninja Tunes’ Grammy-winning producer and crypto enthusiast Andre Allen Anjos, aka RAC, offered them his 2017 album ‘Ego’, setting up a test case for this new release model. For RAC, there’s a clear winner: “I won’t see accounting info for 2017 sales until April. That money is floating around: I don’t know how much or how many records I sold. Blockchain enables instant accounting; within seconds of a sale I’ve received the funds.”

DJs should note the precedent set by Joel Bevacqua, a veteran of the US rave scene, who released the ‘Rock The Blockchain’ mixtape on Musicoin under his Deadly Buda pseudonym. His drop is a big deal because it busts open the biggest play in this space: the processing of artist payments and royalty collection. A key blockchain innovation is the smart contract, a transaction that can trigger any number of automated payments upon completion. Using this system, Joel’s mix is configured to process and send payment to the artists whose tracks are used within minutes of any transaction. Minutes. “This experiment is going to be the catalyst for the solution,” Da Silva believes. “I gave him some songs for the mix and now every time someone listens to it the money comes straight to me. As a proof of concept, it worked.”

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