A Blockchain Overview
I’ve written numerous articles focused around how blockchain technology might play a role in building a music business that allows artists to have sustainable careers on their own terms.
It’s been amazing to watch the conversation around this technology grow. When I started writing about it, it was pretty much me, D.A. Wallach, and Bill Tai/Richard Branson talking about this technology. Now, it’s a fairly pervasive topic. Certainly, neither I nor anyone else knows definitively where this will go, but the discourse has been productive.
In short, blockchain technology could facilitate the use and tracking of so-called “smart contracts.” These smart contracts would be a set of rules (and related costs) that an artist could – via blockchain technology – permanently and (if they choose) transparently ascribe to their musical works.
These smart contracts would be “machine readable.” This means that vast numbers of people/companies/institutions (from streaming services like Pandora, to television networks, to small webcasters, to restaurants, to anyone who wants to use music) could make requests for music – via their own “machines” – that would seek out tracks that fit their needs – from the perspective of price, genre, usage types, etc.
The analogy I always use is that of the small taco shop who has a budget of $1000 per year and really only wants to play the music of the Texas Tornados. Currently, to do that, the taco shop would have to purchase a blanket license from the various Performance Rights Organizations (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC). These blanket licenses would allow the Taco Shop to legally play the Texas Tornados, but would also give them the rights to play virtually every other piece of recorded music as well – 99.9999% of which the taco shop neither wants to play or pay for.
The technology I described above – utilizing blockchain technology to facilitate music usage vis machine readable smart contracts and utilizing an alternative currency (bitcoin, for instance) that allows for fractional payments – can facilitate this approach.
This approach would obviate the need for intermediaries – like the Performance Rights Organizations – and allow for music creators to deal directly with music users…at scale.
To help you better get your head around this, it’s insructive to consider that this is already happening via the Internet of Things. While not strictly a Blockchain article (which is why it’s not in the list below), it certainly was inspired by it:
That’s the short version. I’ve tried to approach the analysis of the vision above by talking to people who are far smarter than I on this topic, and by examining it through my own lens of a combination of guarded optimism and healthy skepticism.
The list of articles, will, of course grow, but here is the current list.
- Haters Gonna Hate: Why Those Celebrating The “Death” Of The Bitcoin Blockchain Are Missing The Point
- Bitcoin Can’t Save The Music Industry Because The Music Industry Will Resist Transparency
- The Bitcoin Blockchain Just Might Save The Music Industry…If Only We Could Understand It
- Bitcoin Is To The Blockchain As Porn Was To The Internet
- Blockchain Technology Is Our Chance To Rebuild The Internet In A Way That Benefits Creators
- We Have The Push, Now We Need The Pull – A ‘Blockchain And The Arts’ State Of The Union
- Benji Rogers’ .bc Codec: A Fair Trade Approach To Music And Virtual Reality Using The Blockchain
- Benji Rogers Gets Specific About The .bc Codec: A Fair Trade Music And VR Solution Using Blockchain
- Bitcoin and the Arts: An Interview with Artist and Composer, Zoe Keating
- ‘Bitcoin For Rock Stars’ A Year Later: An Update From D.A. Wallach On Blockchain And the Arts Part 1
- D.A. Wallach On Spotify, Bitcoin, And A More Moral Music Industry
- Ryan Leslie’s Plan To Disrupt The Music Business: Enable Artists – Not Apple – To Own Their Audience
Imogen Heap’s Mycelia
I’m deeply honored that Imogen chose me to work with her on and document this crucial project. Watching her take it from the conversations we had to reality has been a true thrill.
- Imogen Heap’s Mycelia: An Artists’ Approach for a Fair Trade Music Business, Inspired by Blockchain
- Imogen Heap Gets Specific About Mycelia: A Fair Trade Music Business Inspired By Blockchain
- Union Square Ventures’ Andy Weissman On The Blockchain And The Music Rights ‘Nirvana State’
- Could Blockchain Save SoundCloud And Investment In The Future Of The Music Industry?
- Blockchain As The Source-DNA For Content Attribution: A Conversation With Bill Tai – Part 1
- Bill Tai Interview Part 2: “The Structural Unlocking Of Spirits: Artists As Entrepreneurs”
I’ll add in articles, podcasts, etc. that I find informative and relevant here.
- How the blockchain will become our new signature <-start here!
- a16z Podcast: Blockchain vs./and Bitcoin
- Bitcoin for Rockstars: How Cryptocurrency Can Revolutionize The Music Industry
- How the Blockchain and VR Can Change the Music Industry
- Why Blockchain is the New Website
- How Bitcoin Is Like SMTP
Articles Around “Hot Button” Issues:
Bitcoin’s ability (or lack thereof) to scale:
[Consider the source of the articles above, Brian Armstrong, is the Co-Founder and CEO of Coinbase.]
Certainly, no shortage of people who do not believe in the promise of Bitcoin or the Bitcoin Blockchain: