Business reflects life, and when an industry exhausts one avenue of innovation, they’ll inevitably move on to the next one.
The music industry has whipped up plenty of hype around initial coin offerings (ICOs). Many blockchain businesses got their start with ICO funding, but there are signs that ICOs are on the decline. The music industry hasn’t turned its back on blockchain, but use cases of the past are just that: the past.
While musically inclined innovators haven’t given up on blockchain technology, they’ll have to look beyond ICOs to deliver real value.
The industry has struggled to implement blockchain use cases beyond fundraising, but it’s not for lack of trying.
While there are noble causes in mind, like fair rights distribution, a good idea only goes so far on its own. The music industry needs user-ready platforms to legitimize its blockchain use cases. It simply isn’t there yet, but another year should bring musicians, label heads, technicians, and the rest of the industry nearer to the blockchain’s promised land.
Let’s see what these experts see as the state of blockchain in music.
1. Josh Tucker, Partner at Pillsbury LLP
“Nascent, but promising. Companies like UjuMusic are building on blockchain infrastructure to help musicians capture a larger share of royalties. And various platforms are experimenting with tying licenses to copyrighted works on on-chain records. But blockchain-enabled experiences are not making contact with consumers at any appreciable scale.”
2. Vasja Veber, Co-founder and COO of VIBERATE
“We are still waiting for a service that will break through into the mainstream. Development takes time, but we are sure to see something by the end of this year.”
3. Ricardo Porteus, Founder of Bleep.me and Dance for 1 Meter
“In 2018, there was considerable hype from the music industry about exploring blockchain. This was primarily due to the fundraising potential ICO's offered, more so than the actual benefits of what a distributed ledger technology would bring to the industry. The ICO craze has since died out, and so has the majority of the general interest from the music industry.
Blockchain failed to deliver the preconceived level of change that was expected, however, this is due to one simple fact: a total misunderstanding of the core technology and its use scenarios outside of the fast fundraising mechanism of a connected ICO.”
4. John Wagster, Co-chair of Frost Brown Todd’s Blockchain and Digital Currency Team
“Several good use cases for blockchain technology in the music industry exist, but most are in development.
These applications would catalog ownership of artists’ intellectual property rights, automatically track and allocate royalty payments to all participants in a musical work (composer, artist, producer, musicians, etc.), and offer a marketplace where artists can license music directly to consumers.
All these tasks can be achieved with blockchain-based smart contracts and recorded on a public blockchain for complete transparency to all. Some also advocate the use of blockchain-based utility tokens to access a mobile phone-centric production network for artist-producer collaborations.”
5. Javier Hasbun, Co-founder and Executive Director at Weeshing
“It's really incipient. There's much going on but no one is making real business so far. One of the biggest was eMusic, but they haven't been listed yet.”
6. Nigel Rudlin, CEO and Founder of indieOn
“Nascence is the best word to describe the current status of blockchain in music and other streaming distribution services.
Nascence is used to talk about the development of something new, or something that is emerging with great potential. In new and emerging business models and technologies, the sector becomes crowded with startups. Right now there are around 50 companies entering this space. Many are still in the ideation state without a solid product foundation, while a small number have something different to offer.
The real question is what does this pool look like in 2020? Only a few companies will survive.”
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