The hurtful economics of streaming (and how we’re fixing it)

The great thing about any streaming model is it allows content creators to be paid every time their content is consumed by someone else. We see this as ultimate fairness which is proportional to enjoyment, reducing production costs which can only ever have a finite return if content is ‘sold’ and ‘bought’.

In the future, we’ll see this model applied to transactions between individuals, rather than just companies and consumers. Enjoyed your best friend’s Snapchat performance of “If I Were a Boy”? Consider it a stream — and pay up. Trust us; it’s going to happen.

But in the meantime, if streaming is such a good model for content, why doesn’t it work for artists? And by “doesn’t work”, we mean: why don’t artists get paid well when their content is consumed millions of times?

The answer is embedded deep in the historic structure of the music business. A complex arrangement of lawyers, paper contracts, producers and IP-holding music labels puts artists at the bottom of the pile. Increasingly, we see technology allowing small-time artists to represent themselves — think Bandcamp and SoundCloud — but publishing to Spotify and escaping the barrage of supportive but ultimately fruitless emoji YouTube comments is difficult, if not impossible, without this “complex arrangement”.

Currently, for artists to be paid out, Spotify and friends send playback statistics to a small group of music labels, who charge a fee for the service, take their percentage and pass the small remainder on to the people who made the music happen. Computers can do better, and they already do — the label’s work now is just a middleman handling currency — and we think that’s wrong. Because Spotify has negotiated fixed cost deals with music labels which value each artist equally — after all, they can stream every song from Michael Jackson to your friend’s neighbour — the payback for every artist is tiny, and beyond disproportional to the value of each stream. Not all streams are created equal.

We think artists should be paid for their share of effort, time and money in the song’s production every time it’s played. We think agreements defining contributors should be embedded in every song and contributors automatically paid when the song’s enjoyed. This decentralised and democratic system is how we’ve seen politics work for centuries, now bravely applied to music through Smart Contracts.

We are Euphoric Adventures. #StreamIfYouWantToGoFaster