Web3 Music: Navigating the Ever-Evolving Landscape of the Music Industry

Hakim Draper
3 min readJun 15, 2023

Having experienced both sides of the music industry as an artist development professional and a former Major Record label executive, I’ve witnessed firsthand the evolution of the industry and the challenges it faces. While there have been negative aspects associated with traditional artist deals and outdated structures, it’s important to acknowledge that major labels have adapted to the modern era. With unique and sometimes even artist-friendly deal structures, they continue to serve a purpose and prove their resilience in the face of criticism. Furthermore, the streaming model, while transformative, still lacks a truly sustainable framework. This is where the promise of web3 comes into play, offering opportunities for collaboration, monetization, and a fresh perspective on the industry as a whole.

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Contrary to the notion that major labels should disappear, they have demonstrated their ability to adapt and survive in an ever-changing landscape. While negative stories tend to dominate conversations, it’s important to recognize the progress major labels have made in recent years. They have embraced new models and structures that prioritize the interests of artists, showcasing their commitment to artist development and growth. Although these positive stories may not receive the same level of attention, they highlight the major labels’ willingness to evolve and create mutually beneficial partnerships.

The advent of streaming platforms brought about a seismic shift in music consumption. However, the industry has yet to find a truly sustainable streaming model. Platforms like Spotify, while popular, have faced challenges in achieving profitability. With royalty rates as low as 0.0004 cents per stream, the value of music and artists’ contributions often goes unrecognized. In an attempt to increase their profitability, streaming services have pivoted towards spoken word and podcasts, but these ventures have not been as successful as anticipated. The shortcomings of the current streaming landscape emphasize the need for alternative frameworks that address the imbalance and provide fair compensation for creators.

One of the significant promises of web3 music is the ability to establish a more robust framework for collaboration and monetization. It extends beyond individual creators and encompasses collaborations between companies, communities, and various organizations. Blockchain technology and smart contracts can facilitate transparent and fair revenue distribution, ensuring that all contributors receive appropriate compensation. By removing intermediaries and establishing direct connections, web3 empowers artists to have greater control over their work and facilitates a more equitable distribution of earnings.

While the music industry continues to evolve, we must acknowledge the adaptability of major labels and their commitment to positive change. However, the search for a sustainable streaming model remains a challenge. The emergence of web3 music offers a glimpse of hope by introducing new possibilities for collaboration, monetization, and a fairer ecosystem. By embracing blockchain technology, the industry can establish transparent systems that prioritize artists’ contributions and ensure their fair compensation. Moving forward, it is crucial to foster dialogue, encourage innovation, and collaborate across sectors to shape a more inclusive and sustainable future for the music industry.

In conclusion, the music industry is in a state of flux, with major labels adapting to the modern era and the search for a sustainable streaming model ongoing. Web3 music holds promise in creating a better framework for collaboration, monetization, and empowering artists. By embracing the principles of web3 and leveraging blockchain technology, we can forge a path toward a more equitable and thriving music ecosystem.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hakim Draper, the founder, and CEO of Artist Intelligence Labs, is innovating the music industry by fusing his profound musical background with state-of-the-art technology. With a diverse journey encompassing early encounters with jazz legends, pioneering endeavors in Silicon Valley, and executive roles at Warner Music Group, Hakim is reshaping the landscape by equipping creators with revolutionary tools and data-driven solutions. His leadership, unwavering commitment, and trailblazing spirit position him at the forefront of the industry’s transformation, driving innovation and empowering artists to reach new heights

Live the life you’ve imagined, Hakim Draper is a Music Industry Strategist, Consultant, and Educator (and CEO of Artist Intelligence Labs)

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Hakim Draper

Join me as I explore the Music Industry, Web3, AI, and their intersection. Gain valuable insights and strategies from my 30-year experience in music and tech.