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The article is penned by Gareth Emery, co-founder of Choon.
Ever since the Bitcoin boom, which drew as much public attention as it did criticism from financial bodies, there have been many excited discussions about the underlying technology that powers cryptocurrencies – blockchain. Similar to the entrance of the internet, blockchain technology, with its decentralised distributed ledger, has the potential to disrupt almost every industry in existence. One such industry that blockchain will revolutionise is music streaming and Choon is the startup leading the revolution.
The transformation will be major
Up until now, the utilisation of blockchain technology within the music business has been largely experimental. Slovenian DJ Gramatik was the first DJ to effectively to launch his own cryptocurrency that enabled fans to own the rights and royalties for the music he releases. Icelandic music artist Bjork integrated blockchain into the launch of her new album, enabling fans to purchase it with Ethereum or Bitcoin.
For DJ Gramatik and Bjork, releasing music via blockchain was more than just an opportunity to garner publicity – it also provided tangible benefits to both artists. Token-based economies powered by blockchain allow music artists to be fairly compensated for their music and also enable musicians to interact with their fans in way that actually rewards them. For music fans, it’s a win-win situation because they can receive additional benefits, such as limited-edition albums and exclusive merchandise, when they invest in tokens created by their favourite artists.
The challenge is to overturn the music industry on its head, so it is not dominated by record labels and music streaming giants. After some failed attempts in the past, blockchain is finally an opportunity to give the power back to music artists and fans who stream their music.
A forward-thinking blockchain-based music streaming service
Blockchain-powered music streaming platforms such as Choon are not trying to fit blockchain into the antiquated music industry; they are more ambitious and realistic. It is pointless trying to build something modern on a broken system and trying to convince the music industry, which includes labels, publishers and copyright societies with conflicting interests, to adopt blockchain is a nigh impossible task. Instead, such blockchain streaming services are in the exciting position of creating an entirely ‘new music industry’ which has no need for these intermediaries.
How can this be accomplished? As well as subtracting middlemen from the equation and increasing artist-fan interaction, blockchain music streaming services will completely transform the nature of music contracts through the use of Smart Record Contracts, an automated rights management system, that distributes automatic payments to music artists when the agreements of the contract have been met. Essentially, this simplifies agreements between all parties, ensures splits are transparent and payment distribution is immediate, completely removing the need for expensive lawyers. Could you imagine how many bands, which have broken up over contract disputes, might still have stayed intact if they had been using Smart Record Contracts?
Streaming platforms like Spotify, have also come under fire for its lack of transparency and how artists are unfairly compensated. With Choon, the centralisation and monopoly of the music industry by record labels is eradicated, meaning more revenue from music streams can return to artists.
Choon – the Game-changer for music artists
Major label artists and repertoire managers are essentially industry gatekeepers, utilising their contractual relationships with radio stations, streaming platforms and other media outlets to plug their music. This ‘top down’ approach is grossly unfair to unsigned music artists which don’t have the same relationships.
Choon changes levels the playing field by introducing a “bottom up” model. Within a cryptocurrency-powered framework, aspiring artists can share their music and those songs which gain the most popularity then make the jump to the radio and charts. With this system, artists, who don’t have massive record deals, can be paid instantly and compensated fairly for the content they have created. For fans, they are provided with a better and more personable method for music discovery and connecting with their favourite musicians.
The financial sector is still reeling from the introduction of cryptocurrencies and blockchain applications like Ethereum. The music streaming sector will soon face a similar blockchain reckoning, one which will transfer the power and control of music content from unscrupulous record labels and back to musicians and their fans.