Do you remember the first time you saw an iPod? Or the first time you listened to a song on a streaming service like Spotify (SPOT)? Did it bust your world right open, make you marvel and wonder what they’ll come up with next? Well, you’re living in another one of those moments for music… a moment where a new technology comes along and totally upends the game, turns the rules on their head and smashes the current model of how things are done to bits… and its music on the blockchain.
Currently, labels hold the power… being “discovered” is just the beginning of an artist’s journey. Once they are on the map, then they are packaged, produced, and distributed… except now, their own art is mostly out of their control. They’ve inked that deal and whatever happens, well… it just happens, and they are along for the ride. Their creative vision may or may not belong to them. By putting their music on the blockchain, and by virtue of the very structure of the technology, artists will once again own their creations, their image, and their own voice.
While the traditional model for artists pretty much consists of putting their work out into the world and praying to get discovered, it’s often not the blessing they’d dreamed of when it finally happens for them… because yes, they get signed and get a powerhouse team behind them to promote them and guide them through their journey… but, what’s not often discussed, is that this current model leaves a lot of room for exploitation (think Taylor Swift and Michael Jackson). But blockchain is here to put a stop to all of that. How? By selling ownership directly to fans.
Taking Back Music
Artists are now realizing that what they have created belongs to them. One example is artist Justin Blau, who saw first-hand how the music business can ring out an artist and hang them out to dry. After trying his hand in the traditional music business and seeing the inequity, he decided to break out by starting his own blockchain music platform called Royal, where musicians are taking back the creative process… and royalties.
Justin showed the world that the proof is in the pudding, selling an album that he had made as NFTs to his fans… raising a whopping $11.7 million dollars at auction. Imagine! One auction to raise the kind of money that any struggling artist would kill for… and he has complete freedom of artistic vision, and all that dough belongs to him, no cuts to a huge entourage or greedy manager for this guy.
A Cut For The Fans
In the blockchain model, fans get to directly own the music… forget paying Spotify ten bucks a month to “rent” music that you lose access to if you stop paying for their service. Now, you can just own your favorite artists music forever as an NFT… in some cases, that music could even earn the NFT holder money… yeah, way better than overpaying for another copy of a song you can hear repeatedly on an oldies station for free… it’s all new everything, including artists, industry structure, ownership, and even how artists and fans get paid.
How do fans get paid? Through the way NFTs (digital assets living on the blockchain) are set up. When a song or album is minted as an NFT (put on the blockchain forever), the artist decides how much of a cut of royalties should be held in reserve for fans who hold their digital art… and they can be rewarded through tokens with monetary value.
So, in an industry where record labels are taking upwards of 80% of an artist’s future royalties, that’s turned on its head and the artist is now keeping that amount, with blockchain platforms taking a much more modest 10% or so… and… if a song is remixed, that can be tracked on the blockchain, so the original creator is getting cuts automatically. Way easier than wondering if your record label’s accountant is skimming off your earnings… way easier.
But don’t we all need a hype wagon, a group around us to promote us and make us look desirable? Not really… in this model, if artists truly connect with fans, the fans become the hype men, the ultimate marketing funnel and diehard lead generators. This strange new hybrid is allowing us to witness first-hand the further melding of culture and money in the crypto space… people are cutting out the bits that have always been touted as necessary and marrying their crypto with their love of music as a way to not only fan harder, but to make money and art while doing it.
One Step Beyond
Remember Woodstock… of course you do, who doesn’t… well, it’s being reimagined for the digital age, and put on the blockchain. W3BSTOCK just happened at the Blue Building in New York City and was the first ever blockchain powered music festival owned and arranged by NFT holders. The event featured musical performances, artwork, and an NFT gallery… not exactly the wild ride rolls in the mud in a pile of people kind of stuff of the original, but fitting for the evolution of the space.
Ultimately, what blockchain music has the potential to do is restore something that many artists see as having been taken from them, relationships with their fans. While everything that comes with a traditional record deal may be glitzy, removing the fluff makes room for more genuine, authentic relationships between creators and those who enjoy their creations… and we’re here for it, and hope you are too. Stay tuned, we’ll keep pushing out updates on the inner workings of this budding space.