Musical stars who are pampered by label companies are a far cry from the life of most musicians. The latter settle for being struggling — and sometimes even starving — artists as they have to contend with middlemen who take a hefty cut in whatever they earn…
The good news is, all that is about to change as blockchain, a decentralized digital system that records data in blocks, promises to shore up artists’ earnings by introducing disruptive innovations that will give them control of their music and protect it from piracy.
With blockchain, music files that artists release will carry smart contracts which will make their songs playable only if end users comply with conditions protecting copyright and licensing.
Venues like television and radio that wish to play a track will be subject to payment details embedded in the music.
Dividing revenues will be easy as those individuals who have royalty rights to the music can trace its financial history as reflected in the smart contract.
Looks like musicians will finally move forward with fewer problems. Or will they? Is anyone Coming to the Blockchain Music Party?
Blockchain in Music: Challenges
Blockchain certainly sounds like the breakthrough that the music industry is clamoring for. But if so, why are artists and music companies not hurrying to join the chorus?
One obvious reason is that blockchain’s infrastructure is still not well established. Blockchain music companies already exist, but they are not synchronized or popular enough to shake up the whole industry.
Distribution is another matter. Artists will manage their own value chains (division of earnings, etc.) within a blockchain ledger, but it’s not clear how the government will regulate. Contentious issues like copyright, safety of content, and fair agreements could also crop up as artists get more freedom.
Blockchain will also need to balance the interests of music professionals with those of the listeners. As it is, the latter can already access great collections of music by paying affordable to no standard fees using streaming services and other platforms. If blockchain music imposes tough access restrictions and prohibitive pricing, customers may not play along.
Blockchain in Music Applications
Despite the challenges, blockchain is already making inroads in the music industry, with some artists expressing their support. Here are some proposed innovations.
- A published song or album possesses metadata about copyright conditions, allowing others to easily process legal compliance like payments.
- Smart contracts in digital records may track song plays in public venues, enabling artists to charge and earn from them.
- Songs or albums contain tokens, allowing those who have royalty rights to divide earnings.
- Tokens enable executing transactions with online wallets, banks, etc., so rights’ holders can directly receive payments every time a song earns.
- As audiences get paid cryptocurrency points for checking ads, platforms can afford to offer full-content access thereby eliminating piracy.
- To prevent hacking, recordings are encrypted using private and public cryptographic keys as well as hashes.
- Musical recordings come with smart contracts, enabling royalty holders to trace the transactions when it’s time to share the earnings.
- People who have rights to a song can control its use by customizing a contract, including assets, penalties, and privacy.
- Storage and speed issues are greatly reduced with blockchain music streaming’s decentralized nature, where data burdens are distributed in servers.
- Artists access better shares of earnings from listeners’ streaming activities because of minimal middlemen involved in handling blockchain-backed music content.
Blockchain is a refreshing tune that supports musicians’ demands for more optimized sharing of ownership and transparency. After all, the world owes much inspiration to musicians, and they deserve a better deal. Hopefully, blockchain will make it happen.