As blockchain technology develops and adapts to different markets and industries, it slowly penetrates various areas of life. We’ve already witnessed its potential in industries like gaming and supply chain management, but it can also bring significant benefits to the music industry. A blockchain music industry no longer sounds like a distant possibility. Instead, a look into the potential of a blockchain music industry reveals that the technology can bring a lot to the table.
Existing challenges in the music industry
Before we can explore the ways in which blockchain could improve the music industry, it’s worth examining some of the biggest challenges the sector is facing today.. While the current model works well enough, it has its shortcomings stemming from old structures, inefficient processes, and reliance on intermediaries. Let’s look at these challenges in more detail.
It’s difficult to imagine the music industry without record labels, radio companies, and streaming services. These middlemen have become a necessity for the industry to function properly. Although beneficial for controlling processes to some extent, middlemen are often associated with high administrative fees and commissions. Ultimately, this leads to lower earnings for artists and music creators.
Centralization is another important factor to consider in today’s music industry. Let’s take streaming services as an example. Such platforms operate like search engines, where control over the songs and albums that are included in the streaming service is centralized. Some of the risks associated with such centralized systems are poor security, inaccuracies, and vulnerabilities. Furthermore, music exposure could be biased, where certain artists receive more visibility than others.
The music industry is also hindered by its inability to ensure transparency and record copyrights in a global, unified database. Instead, the industry relies on detached recording agreements and licenses, which often result in chaos in an ever-growing ecosystem.
Low earnings for artists
As a consequence of all the mentioned above issues, artists and music creators earn low royalties and pay-outs for their work, despite the blooming nature of the music industry in general. In addition, the majority of artists experience trouble in claiming royalties easily and efficiently.
Blockchain music industry: The potential
Although a relatively new concept, especially when it comes to its application in different industries, blockchain technology stands out with interesting properties and capabilities, allowing it to potentially solve some of the music industry’s biggest limitations.
Eliminating the need for a middleman
As a distributed ledger technology, blockchain can eliminate intermediaries from the process of music sales and streaming.
In today’s digital world, streaming has undoubtedly changed the way music is accessed and consumed. Compared to previous years, when streaming platforms were not widely available, today, music is much more accessible to the listener. In addition, streaming has enabled an extra layer of intermediation between music artists and fans. In combination with the issues related to claiming royalties mentioned above, the presence of intermediaries becomes a burden.
Ultimately, guaranteeing a secure and reliable process without the presence of middlemen via decentralization results in several benefits.
With blockchain technology, innovative digital streaming services can be created, where each sale or stream is instantly paid out to the music creator without having to worry about fees and commissions for middleman services. Instead of the process being regulated by middlemen, it can be controlled via blockchain-based smart contracts. Once pre-programmed smart contract conditions are met, certain actions can take place on the blockchain network. In this example, royalties can immediately be paid to the band, performer or producer as long as certain criteria are met.
More direct relationships
The elimination of middlemen from the music industry also allows blockchain technology to encourage more direct and open relationships between end users and music producers. This can strengthen the trust between the two parties, create loyal bonds, and enable music artists to get paid directly by fans.
Higher earnings for music artists
Consequently from the previous point, direct payments and direct communication will also empower music artists to increase their earnings from fans. Middlemen often consume a large portion of earnings in the music industry, leaving a small profit for the music producer or music artist. Blockchain technology can help tackle this problem and provide higher rewards for music producers.
Intellectual property protection
In earlier sections, we mentioned that intellectual property protection is perhaps one of the most serious challenges in the music industry today. Luckily, blockchain technology can offer a solution.
For example, storing a song on the blockchain means that it’s assigned a unique number, which guarantees protection against fraud. Combining this with the immutable nature of the technology, where data cannot be modified, blockchain creates real transparency and an environment, where creators can be in control of their work. In such an ecosystem, illegal song downloads become impossible. NFTs, in particular, are one of the blockchain-based creations that support authentic ownership in the music industry.
Creative sources of revenue for artists
Blockchain technology can also enable newly emerging artists with an existing fan community to enjoy a constant stream of support in the form of financial earnings. There are already a number of projects designed to fulfill this purpose, like ANote Music’s blockchain-based platform that provides artists with an innovative way of accessing capital via user investments in royalties. Music royalty shares and also be bought and sold on a secondary market.
Existing music blockchain platforms
Blockchain in the music industry is still a new concept that is yet to gain momentum. Despite this, there are a number of existing examples of how the technology is utilized to improve the music industry around the world.
For example, Audius is an Ethereum-based decentralized music platform that gives musicians the ability to share their music and connect with fans directly and instantly receive payments, without the need for third parties. Mycelia is another project growing in popularity, which strives to create a fair and sustainable music industry with the help of blockchain.
Blockchain technology offers both music creators and consumers lucrative incentives and diverse benefits, which can help propel the use of blockchain in the music industry in the long-term. However, the industry’s existing challenges must be carefully considered as they play a vital role in realizsing the shift towards a decentralized, immutable, and secure technology.