After the success of bitcoin, people have started to apply the solution of blockchain in pretty much everything. Music industry which is worth an estimated $45 billion globally, could not have been an exception.
Recently Pitbull, the famous American rapper tweeted about his Smakathon-A blockchain music challenge for the developers to solve the problems of the music industry.
The fanbase, hit singles and albums, number of streams, the paparazzi, the busy schedules all of these is enough to make the general mass believe that the musician's life is a flashy and wealthy one. Reality check: it’s not. One may think that paying third party intermediaries, like labels and publishers, is just “anotha day, anotha dolla,” but these businesses milk out pretty much every penny out of musician’s financial and creative successes.
Like Pitbull many artists around the world who have been facing such consequences have now realized that Blockchain could be the solution to all of the problems that every musician around are facing today. And Nepal is no exception. Now lets explore how Blockchain actually does that.
How blockchain technology can disrupt the music industry
1.Real time stats
Despite the presence of digital records and streaming platforms, artists are unable to acquire real time data of their product. Real time stats can be an indicator to the artists on how well their product is performing in the market. When artists are empowered with such real time stats, they can plan and take necessary actions immediately.
2.Elimination of middleman
With concert venues, record labels, and music streaming companies taking a significant cut, it should come as no surprise that there has been a decline in people who self-identify as musicians — as much as 41% since 1999. In exchange for a portion of the profits made by an artist through their work, record labels will help with the promotion, branding and project funding so that a musician can focus on their craft. They act as an intermediary to push an artist into the entertainment marketplace. However, there is a potential problem with this division of labor between recording companies and artists: although record labels tend to be good at at what they do, some companies are unscrupulous and take advantage of musicians. This risk is especially high if a musician isn’t well-versed with respect music industry’s business practices. Predatory recording labels can obtain an artist’s agreement to questionable contracts that sometimes make them relinquish full creative control of their work. And this is where a musician’s dreams can die.
Also, publishers try to censor artist’s creativity based on status quo and what they view as marketable. But they do tend to get wrong often. One famous example is Queen’s Bohemein Rhapsody. Without a doubt Bohemian Rhapsody is one of the greatest songs recorded in recent history. Before the song was released publishers rejected it, saying it was too long for the radio (5 mins 55 secs) and for the use of the Arabic word “Bismillah”. Frustrated, Queen severe the ties with the publisher and played it in a small radio channel. Pretty soon, it became sensational. Unfortunately for Queen, there was no Internet or Blockchain publishing back then, so they were still in mercy of the radio channels. The radio channel must have agreed because they were the famous Queen. But what if you are not Queen.
Making it as a musician has never been easy. For the past several decades musicians have been experiencing a huge decline in their net revenue from album sales The major reason is the high constituting margins of record labels. Whenever an artists sells a record, record labels and the parties involved in the process of distribution takes a hefty amount from sales. In addition to this, payments are usually delayed. Most importantly, all the records of sales are centralized, and the artists have no clear idea about the number of copies sold by the middleman. Under Blockchain an artist can directly sell his music to the fans by eliminating the middleman and therefore making more profit.
Musicians, including Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Radiohead, Taylor Swift, Adele and many more have decided to remove their albums from popular streaming services, citing unfair payment practices. Over the years, streaming services have been occasionally accused of underpayment. Any time a song is played on the radio, at events, or online, the original artist should get a fairly split royalty payment, but to track every play on every platform is challenging. Streaming initiatives like ujo, voise, chon keep track of every play on their platform and since they run under the concept of Blockchain, all the data and stats are transparent. This ensures fair royalty payments to the artists.
4.Direct interaction with fans
When parties such as record labels and distributors are eliminated, artists can directly interact with their fans and other parties such as event organizers. Such interactions not only help the artist to make more money but also helps to cultivate a better and healthy relationship with their fans.
Despite the exploiting nature of some of the record labels, international artist are able to make a living as a musicians through musical tours and shows. In a smaller country like Nepal, it is impossible to live a decent life as a full time musician. In Nepal even the big names like Ram Krishna Dhakal and Rajesh Payal Rai have made it public that because of piracy issues they only make full length albums to continue their legacy and not to earn money by showcasing their talent. Artists should be making albums not just to continue their legacy but also to make a living out of it. However, this doesn’t mean that there is no strong law against piracy in Nepal. Many have been prosecuted for violating the law. But despite the severity of law piracy still exists.
When an artist can make more money after eliminating such exploiting middlemen, he can sell his music at a significantly lower price. This will not put an end to piracy but gradually encourage the fans to pay for the music instead of pirating it.
With all of the promises made by Blockchain in the field of music, musicians become empowered and independent. Especially in Nepal where people involved in the field of music, despite having the talent are not able to make a decent living out of it will now be able to work full time and earn accordingly as a musician.