Mike Belitz Joins the eMusic Advisory Team
So much goes into music making. The journey from the artist’s imagination to your smartphone can be a long and arduous one, and we at eMusic believe that everyone deserves to be properly compensated for their work along the way. That’s exactly why bringing music professional Mike Belitz onto our advisory team is so brilliant. Mike has worked in the music industry his entire life, making regular contact with sound engineers, guitar techs, venue owners, and everyone in between. It was our pleasure to sit down with him this week and get his fresh perspective on the future of our business.
eMusic: What got you interested you in joining the eMusic Blockchain Project?
Mike Belitz: My father was a world-class musician. As a result, my childhood was targeted towards learning music. For my age group, I was considered a world-class musician (back in the day). From that point on, “Music” was the only industry that I’ve ever worked in. Perhaps it’s cliché, but the industry found me! I made it a career to be a musician for my teens and through college, touring bands and doing studio work. In my mid-20s, I decided I didn’t like the uncertainty of being a gigging musician and I was offered a job at a company that endorsed me. That’s really what kicked off my career in the music products and brand manufacturing business. Since then I’ve focused on starting and acquiring different brands.
eMusic: What a career so far! What’s something that you’re most proud of?
Mike: Well, one of those brands was a company that produced some of the very first MP3 players, before iPhones and iPods. Back then, anything that had any relationship to the internet either had a lowercase e or i, so I changed the b and the e in my name and became eBlitz Audio Labs. The idea was that one would “blitz” the internet for free downloads (#oldschoolnapster). These portable players were called “Rocket”, “Shuttle”, and “Orbit”. They did pretty well!
eMusic: So what kind of products you make now?
Mike: We produce products for musicians, live venues, concert tours, studios, etc. I own a suite of quality brands in the music industry that are well known and broadly used throughout the industry. I, however, don’t expect that non-musicians would know the brands.
eMusic: You’d be surprised. A lot of people who are into eMusic get pretty nerdy.
Mike: (Laughs) OK, there’s Ultimate Support Systems, been around for 41 years. Ultimate innovates and produces high-quality hardware that you see on stage. Everything from mic stands to keyboard stands. We make cases and acoustic treatment too, but for the most part it’s what all of the pros use on tours, in studios, and at the higher-end music venues. If you perform at a club down in New York, for example, it’s very likely our products will be on stage. I own another company based in Canada known as Radial Engineering. We manufacture high quality audio products. These are very utilitarian in application but needed where live and studio music is being performed or recorded. In California, there’s a niche brand called Jensen that produces audio transformers that can be found in select Radial products and that we sell to the military, and large companies such as Tesla, Apple, IBM and Disney, to name a few.
eMusic: That’s so cool that you’re able to make so many connections to different aspects of music making.
Mike: I feel very tied to the music community on multiple levels. I just have a passion for it. It’s the only thing I have ever done and the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. I feel very lucky in that respect.
eMusic: So how do you think the eMusic Blockchain project separates itself from the other disruptive technologies in the music industry or other token projects?
Mike: I will not claim to be an expert in crypto. Truly, I’m not. I’ve learned so much from Tamir and Michael and the eMusic crew. My knowledge base increased 1,000% after meeting with them. The defining difference of eMusic tokens as I understand it is that they are actually backed by an asset, versus other cryptocurrencies which are not. The asset are tokens that currently can be used for music downloads and in the future much, much more. While I can’t imagine a world without actual cash, crypto is an emerging and accepted way of transacting. By looking to other countries like Korea, for example, where 40% of the population own and trade crypto, I understand it’s potential use in the US market. What I love about the purpose of these tokens are primarily two things: first, I think it’s going to create a stronger community throughout all aspects of the music industry. Second, I’m very excited to see how this will benefit the artists over the years and change how they earn a living. What I mean by that statement is that eMusic tokens, in combination with eMusic services, has the potential to bring back balance to how artist’s royalties are structured. This is huge! Currently artists are not getting their fair share — they are forced in many cases to tour more than ever. I feel strongly that this must change.
eMusic: What unique perspective do you feel you bring to the eMusic advisory team?
Mike: eMusic’s advisory team is loaded with talent, and a diverse set of skills and experience. What I bring to the table is two-fold. First, I want to be a voice for the artists and others that make a living in this wonderful and eclectic industry. Second, if we’re going to develop a complete community we must include all aspects of music, which includes manufacturers, distributors, music services companies and retailers. I aim to work directly with all segments of the industry and specifically will help launch concerts and recording studios.
In other words, my role will largely impact integrating the token into parts of the music industry that span beyond the artist.
eMusic: So where do we start?
Mike: We must build a community. Specifically, if we can gain support from key retailers to accept the currency as payment for product and services, that’s where it starts from my world. From there it trickles into distribution and potentially into manufacturers and suppliers. If there’s an opportunity to be part of a community and if there’s a payment attached to that, I think we have a great shot at success. We’re dealing with a highly passionate set of people that I believe will rally around a currency developed specifically to promote a healthy environment for years to come.