How the Blockchain Lets Musicians Connect with Fans (and Get Paid)
As businesses go, the music industry has witnessed significant changes over the years. First there were vinyl records, then there were cassette tapes. This was followed by CDs, and with the rise of Napster in the 1990s, we saw the advent of digital downloads. Now, of course, most of us stream the music we listen to.
Despite this, though, the music industry is going through turmoil. According to a report from Forbes, the music industry has experienced a steady decline in profits. Yet, while it was reported that one trillion songs had been streamed in 2015, the people streaming aren’t paying huge amounts of money for the songs. English singer-songwriter James Blunt famously tweeted that thanks to Spotify, he gets paid only £0.0004499368 ($0.0005517475) per stream.
Two projects in the digital currency and blockchain space, Tatiana Coin and Musicoin, are creating ways for artists and audiences to connect with and support each other.
Tatiana Moroz, singer-songwriter and a pioneer in the Bitcoin community, told Bitcoin Magazine that musicians earn, on average, less than a penny per stream in today’s music landscape.
In 2014, Moroz introduced Tatiana Coin (TATIANACOIN), a new way for musicians and fans to have a closer relationship while allowing the artist to earn a living at the same time. As the first-ever musical-artist coin built on top of Bitcoin (via Counterparty), it’s supported by Tokenly’s upcoming media ownership platform, token.fm, due to launch in Q2 of ’17.
Owners of Tatiana Coin will have the opportunity to stream Moroz’s music, as well as lend, collect, sell or trade tokens. They will also have the chance to chat directly with Moroz, access unique multimedia content, buy personalized fan gear and have VIP experiences during her upcoming world tour, recording studio sessions and private concerts.
In February, Moroz launched the full band version of her single “Bitcoin Jingle.” She will be releasing her first studio album in five years on March 31 called Keep The Faith. As a friend and supporter of Ross Ulbricht, the album cover was originally drawn by him as a birthday present for Moroz.
“After experiencing firsthand the troubles artists face trying to make a name for themselves, I sought a revolutionary way for artists and fans to help each other through incentivized financial support and social connectivity,” she said. “The only way to achieve this is through the power of the blockchain: a technology that presents countless opportunities for artists and musicians.”
For Moroz, Bitcoin was something that could help equalize the playing field, solving the problems of income, media distribution and fan relations within the music industry.
“Imagine artists being able to organically grow and directly reach their fan base without the influence of third-party vendors that may not have the artists’ best interests in mind,” she said.
Moroz is keen, though, to use her music to reach as many non-Bitcoiners and get them interested in digital currency. Moroz said that through a mix of song performances and storytelling with her talks, she illustrates the benefits of digital currencies to make it more engaging for her audience.
“I want to enlighten artists and musicians on a transformative technology that allows for true artistic freedom and creates a fair, transparent economy,” she said. “At the same time, I want to create greater access to and rewards for fans who believe in the work of artists.”
Since the launch of Tatiana Coin, artists have been very receptive of the technology, said Moroz. In her opinion, musicians have been the “slave class in the industry,” so the time has come for disruption. In her home base of New York, Moroz wants to spearhead a grassroots effort to engage artists. However, she believes this technology can help streamline and power all aspects of the industry to benefit everyone.
“I am excited to see this platform begin to connect communities directly with creatives, and keep the middleman services as optional and transparent,” she adds.
Musicoin, which was created by Brian Byrne, Isaac Mao and Dan Phifer, is a decentralized system for the publication and consumption of music, combining a cutting-edge digital currency with a peer-to-peer file sharing network, which aims to bring a level of transparency and fairness to the music industry. It does this by allowing musicians to license their content via a “coded contract” directly to the blockchain. With the contract, they automate the collection and distribution of royalty payments, which remain in the control of the artists themselves.
Each time an artist’s track is played, the “pay per play” contract is executed by the system, resulting in a payment using the Musicoin currency. This is sent directly from the listener to the musician, who has granted the listener access to a specific piece of work.
Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, Byrne said Musicoin is solving the problem that musicians face by keeping artists connected to their music.
“They know that by using Musicoin, without fail or question, that when someone hits play on our platform that payment goes directly to them,” he said. “A real transaction that is transparent with no intermediary.”
As someone who has been a recording and touring artist, Byrne said that he understands what it’s like to try and navigate contracts with record labels and managers while watching the misuse of funds and the failed answers to royalty payments.
“When I was first introduced to this idea by Isaac and Dan, I knew without a doubt that this was something I would fight for, to see it come to fruition and let every artist know about it,” he said.
According to Musicoin, over 80 percent of royalty fees are kept by intermediaries, which, prior to the digital age, helped musicians to organize, plan, record, produce and distribute their music. Since then, that role has expanded and it is for that reason musicians can’t make a living.
However, through Musicoin’s theory of the Sharism Model, each playback represents an exchange between the musician and the listener.
As a project that is self-funded with no ICO, no pre-allocation to the founders and no pre-mining, Byrne states that their aim is about leveling the playing field, putting the artist first and figuring out the problem.
Byrne says that even though there will be those who don’t think the platform will work, the feedback so far has been positive.
“Everyone seems to be really thrilled with the idea, how it works, the support in the community and the potential it has,” he said.