Sasha Shilina⬙
Aug 5 · 42 min read

Music is a significant part of most people’s daily lives. More than just entertainment, music is an art form, an important medium for cultural exchange. The demand for music consumption has created a major business industry encompassing production, distribution, publishing, live concerts, and album sales. However, there are still a lot of unsolved issues in each of these music fields. Currently, we are on the blockchain paradigm shift. Blockchain has great opportunities to re-imagine many industries, and it holds tremendous potential to reshape the future of the music industry. Blockchain music applications include solutions for a wide scope of industry problems: releasing music, streamlining the distribution model and funneling more of the revenue towards the creators by eliminating fees, imposed by middlemen, between end-users and artists.

But are music DApps already brought to life?

Industry background

Napster Digital Revolution

During the 1990s, after a boom in Compact Disks sales music-focused online service Napster demolished the traditional distribution methods of the music industry. It was founded in 1999 as a pioneering peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing Internet service that emphasized sharing digital audio files, typically audio songs, encoded in MP3 format. So it paved the way towards today’s world of streaming services by offering downloads via the network, making almost any piece of music free for users to download.

This had a major effect on the revenue streams of artists, producers, and record labels. It was no longer enough to make one great song or a couple of songs and call it an album. Each track, no matter great or mediocre, had to be worth the same price for a user.

Physical CD shipments in the United States from 1999 to 2018 (in millions). The statistic above shows annual physical album shipments. In 2018, 52 million physical albums were sold in the U.S., a significant decrease from the 87.7 million units sold a year earlier. Source: Statista.

The Spread of Streaming

Through the early 2000s album and individual song sales continued to decline, and rights holders and creators began looking for streaming services who could pay them per “plays” or “listens”, through ad revenue or monthly subscription services. Streaming services have become vital to the music industry, giving users the freedom to stream and share music. Today, they are common in everyday life, offering easy-to-use products and instant access to millions of songs that require zero space on a user’s hard drive.

Streaming revenue has grown exponentially since 2010. The 2019 U.S. statistic shows that music streaming revenues amounted to roughly 7.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, an increase of six billion in four years. Looking forward, we can expect the music industry in the United States to become increasingly reliant on revenue from digital channels.

Revenue from music streaming in the United States from 2010 to 2018 (in billion U.S. dollars). Source: Statista.

Currently, streaming owns the music industry, and now that the format has established itself as the current savior and future of the business, many competitors in the space are focused on signing up as many users as possible. More and more streaming platforms appear. The Top 10 streaming music services by the number of users are:

See also the comparison of music streaming services for 2019 from PCMag:

Today the independent music industry is the fastest-growing category of the music industry, up 35% from 2017. Forbes magazine says, Why Independent Musicians Are Becoming The Future Of The Music Industry.

However, the biggest players in the music industry still aren’t the artists themselves, but the distributors, many of which have grown into massive billion-dollar companies. There are the music industry’s “Big Three” — Sony Music, Universal, and Warner and the biggest record labels Interscope, RCA, Atlantic, and Columbia which are subsidiary companies of one of the ‘Big Three’ distributors. Moreover, after its purchase of EMI in 2013, Universal Music Group has become the most successful music distributor, having sold over 115 million albums. Together, these companies account for 82 percent of total music album consumption in the United States. And the amounts that Sony, Universal and Warner pulled in from streaming services alone in 2018: a combined $6.93 billion in wholesale revenue, as reported in recent investor filings. It is $1.6 billion more than the $5.3 billion that the Big Three made from streaming in 2017, the first year of a significant music-industry resurgence in two decades — amounts to about $19 million a day, or $800,000 per hour. In 2016 and 2017, the three record companies got about 35 percent and 40 percent of their revenue from streaming, respectively. And artists are angry, with small returns from streaming services for their music, creative freedoms are being stifled.

So, we all know the problems — but what are the fixes?

Blockchain Revolution

Blockchain Potential for Music Industry

The combination of blockchain-based platforms and smart contracts — plus the artistic community’s standards of inclusion, integrity, and transparency in deal-making, privacy, security, respect of rights, and fair exchange of value — could enable artists and their collaborators to form a new music ecosystem.

Firstly, not a model centered on music labels or tech distributors, but an artist-centric model on the blockchain can be designed so the artists could produce music and be paid fairly for the value they create, and lovers of music could consume, share and enjoy what they love and pay fair value. This model wouldn’t exclude labels or digital distributors, but they would be equal rather than dominant members of the ecosystem. According to Don Tapscott’s “Blockchain Revolution”, there are several new features of the blockchain business model for the music industry that the existing industry lacks:

  • Value templates to construct deals that respect the artist as an entrepreneur and equal partner in any venture, integral to value creation.
  • Inclusive royalties that divide revenues fairly according to each person’s contribution to the creative process.
  • Transparent ledgers distributed on the blockchain so that everyone could see how much revenue a song was generating, the timing and magnitude of the revenue streams, and who was getting what percentage.
  • Micrometering, micromonetizing functionality to stream the revenues, not just the music.
  • Rich databases that can interface with one another and associate the core copyrighted material with all their metadata in the digital ledger for all to see.
  • Usage data analytics in the hands of artists, to attract the right advertisers and sponsors, organize tours, plan promotions and crowdfunding resources and future creative collaborations with other artists.
  • Digital rights management — the deployment of smart contracts that actually manage rights and maximize the value of publishing, recording, performance, merchandise, and all other rights. This includes terms of third-party engagement for record labels and distribution services.
  • Auction/dynamic pricing mechanisms to experiment with promotions and versioning of content.
  • Reputation system that culls data from an address’s transaction history and social media, to create a reputation score for that address.

Great blockchain benefit is the opportunity to create the self-launched artist. A distributed ledger of music metadata could track not only who created what, but who else was materially involved. It can be a new kind of music ecosystem centered on the artists, where they control their own fate and receive fair compensation for the value they create. Blockchain technology will not create a new standard for how artists get compensated. Instead, it will liberate them to choose and customize an infinite array of solutions that work for their specific needs and beliefs. They can give it away for free, or micromonetize everything — but it’s their choice, not the label’s or the distributor’s.

Other significant elements of the new music ecosystem: basic copyright registration and digital content management system. Currently, the music industry lacks a verified global registry of music creatives and their works. Attempts to build this have failed to the tune of millions of dollars, largely at the expense of some of the collective management organizations (CMOs), and the agencies (such as ASCAP , PRS , PPL and SOCAN ) who ensure that songwriters, publishers, performers, and labels are paid for the use of their music by collecting royalties on behalf of the rights owners. Blockchain is to solve this problem.

A blockchain-empowered rights and payments layer could provide easy ways for people from all over the world to license, buy, stream, collaborate, and literally invest in music projects with full transparency using smart contract technology.

To sum up, music industry blockchain solutions are:

  • A digital rights database implemented on the blockchain
  • Tokenized rights management
  • Payment of royalties can be executed automatically
  • Music creators and producers can earn from users investing in their work via purchasing tokens
  • Total transparency and data protection

Signs of the New Paradigm?

As we see blockchain can re-establish the way music is produced, bought, sold, listened to and managed in a fair and transparent way.

We’ve found about forty blockchain projects and initiatives connected to the music industry in some way and rounded up these examples of how blockchain technology is re-molding and reinvigorating the industry.

Let’s start with the most promising ones:

Open Music Initiative

Open Music Initiative (OMI) is a non-profit initiative of leading academic institutions, music and media industry organizations, creators, technologists, entrepreneurs and policy experts who love and value music. OMI team is creating an open-source protocol for the uniform identification of music rights holders and creators. OMI was launched in 2016 by Berklee College of Music’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (ICE) in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative. Founders include Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship and Sonicbids founder Panos Panay, technology entrepreneur Dan Harple, and designer and entrepreneur Michael Hendrix. The OMI working group includes researchers from University College London and the backing of major music labels such as Universal, Sony, and Warner, plus streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora Radio and YouTube. The initiative is focused on driving the creation of digital methodologies for data collection, data reconciliation, and file formats. Operational, strategic, and technical guidance for OMI will be provided by design and consulting firm IDEO and Context Labs.

Now development is ongoing mostly in private repositories on GitHub. The last commit on OMI public GitHub was on November 3rd, 2017. However, the team is regularly blogging. Official twitter link redirecting to Berklee’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship with 2 thousand subscribers. Since 2017 OMI hosted a couple of Music Technology Workshops, in 2018 — the first Annual Summit, featuring updates and discussion on the Music Modernization Act and announcements on OMI’s next steps. There are a lot of OMI social encounters occurring regularly so far. Also, OMI has convened some plenary meetings, segmented into working groups that generated over 50 business use cases, held over 3,000 hours of conference calls, and designed and released an Open Music API, and hosted international public gatherings showcasing the implementation of the API. This API is to allow interoperability between industry platforms such as music catalogs at labels and publishers, and the databases of streaming services or music licensing and supervision companies.

Currently, OMI is in the process of becoming a non-profit membership organization. This new model will enable OMI to sustain its role as a neutral industry convener with the three-pronged mission: advancing open protocols for musical rights owner identification, educating creators about intellectual property rights and coordinating and promoting innovation across the music industry ecosystem. At the February 6th, 2019 Members Meeting in Los Angeles, the DRAFT bylaws and other DRAFT governance documents were shared and discussed. There was a 60-day comment period between February 15th — April 15th, 2019 for all current members to provide feedback on the proposed bylaws, membership agreement and dues, intellectual property policy and other critical documents. Following this period, the bylaws will be submitted for ratification at an upcoming 2019 members meeting. Seems like OMI has a great potential to become one of the main blockchain initiatives in the music industry.

Ujo

Ujo Music is an Ethereum based, ConsenSys backed music software services company for the modern economic landscape of music. Ujo vision is to empower music through a transparent and open ecosystem and their mission is to build resilient, sustainable and accessible infrastructure for artists, supporters, and developers. Through building towards the creation of a fair, efficient, and decentralized music ecosystem, they hope to enable opportunity and creativity to flourish.

Ujo is more like Bandcamp than Spotify. Ujo’s decentralized streaming platform creates a database of music ownership rights and automates royalty payments, disintermediates fans and artists, and a developer toolbox for the music industry that enables projects to integrate Ethereum. The purchase of music (or tipping of artists) throughout the site is securely verified using a Metamask Chrome browser plugin. This built-in payment infrastructure is at the core of Ujo’s mission provide a blockchain-enabled streaming service with an equal or greater convenience level than existing ‘legacy’ streaming services Spotify, Apple Music, and others. Once the setup of Metamask is complete, users are able to view the ETH-USD exchange rate and purchase directly and securely.

The longer-term vision of Ujo is through an open platform built on blockchain technology (such as Ethereum), owned by the commons, to enable 1-click licensing of all media for any use. At the end of the last year, they released the Ujo Portal, reducing the cost of business and creating new economies for fans to connect with musicians. Musicians can sell their music for 100% of the payment due, and fans can collect digital badges of their favorite musicians.

Ujo now supports streaming payments via Connext’s payment channel technology and MakerDAO’s Dai, an Ethereum stablecoin valued at $1. This feature is still in testing, but the team will be refining it further over coming months.

As a part of the ConsenSys Ujo has an active community with about five thousand people on their Twitter. Read more on Ujo Team here.

Choon

Choon is a music streaming service and digital payments ecosystem — designed to solve the music industry’s most fundamental problems, it uses blockchain to fairly pay artists in a timely manner. Choon is also an Ethereum-based platform. It enables artists to set up smart contracts with each song contributor, ensuring a set portion of total revenue (80%). Instead of waiting a year to pay artists, as is typical, Choon can reward them almost instantly based on how many streams the DLT recorded for any given day. The blockchain also facilitates crowdfunding for up-and-coming artists and rewards listeners for creating personalized playlists. When you play a song on Choon, your money goes directly to the artist or band via a cryptocurrency called Notes ($NOTES). Listeners also get paid to listen to new music. Playlist curators get paid a percentage of NOTES earned from streams from their playlist. Smart Contracts automatically handle revenue splits. Artists can stake NOTES on the platform for rewards and unlockable features.

Today Choon is a quite active app. As of writing, Choon is currently paying 13X more per stream than Spotify. That is being paid daily and in full transparency. Since they launched on May 1st, 2018, Choon has grown to over 12,000 artists uploading over 45,000 original songs, and 22,000 registered users with over 5,000 monetized playlists, where the playlist curator also earns the Notes token. “New releases” section on Choon’s website is updating regularly.

On July 25th, the team announced a few updates. First of all, Bjorn Niclashas taken over the role of the CEO and will actively be steering the ship forward with our new management team. Second, to achieve the new milestones, the team has secured investments from a group of private investors. Third, their new technical development team is led by newly appointed CTO Parker McCurley and Adam Gall (Director of Engineering) from decent labs. The new technical development team has already started building out Choon 2.0. Fourth, Elio David Di lorio will join Choon as a special strategic advisor. Elio is a true pioneer in the blockchain space, being the co-founder of the first music blockchain project, Musicoin, and then later on with Musiconomi.

Follow Choon on Twitter with more than 3,5 thousand subscribers so far.

Mycelia

Founded by avant-pop Grammy-winning singer Imogen Heap, Mycelia is a well-known initiative that aims to bring technology to the foreground for independent musicians. Mycelia is a research and development hub for music makers driven by a growing community of creatives, technologists and industry champions for the love of music. Mycelia’ mission is to empower a fair, sustainable and vibrant music industry ecosystem involving all online music interaction services; to unlock the huge potential for creators and their music-related metadata so an entirely new commercial marketplace may flourish.

Heap’s “Creative Passport” tour features seminars and events on blockchain tech, it is the digital container to hold verified profile information, IDs, acknowledgments, works, business partners and payment mechanisms, to help get music makers and their works, linked and open data for business. There is no 2019 Roadmap. An app is said to be forthcoming, the team is currently Alpha-Testing the Creative Passport App. Last month the team has returned to London from their North American leg of the MyceliaWorldTour — a new model for touring, comprising of concerts, talks, workshops, and exhibitions, the 40-city tour was used as a platform to officially launch Mycelia’s Creative Passport.

Check out Myselia’s Twitter page.

Breaker

Breaker (formerly SingularDTV) mission is to evolve the entertainment industry with a decentralized ecosystem that empowers creators and delivers fans a diverse collection of classic and original content. Breaker is the decentralized entertainment economy, an ecosystem of apps that help artists create and distribute their music and collaborate in their journey with fans. To offer a more complete view of developments in the world of music and blockchain, they’ve put together a list of projects approaching the space in their own way. The list is meant to be exhaustive, and preference was given to platforms that are already live or maintain current updates on development.

When Breaker launched as SingularDTV in 2016, they set out with four key objectives:

  1. To create a tokenization / rights management tool for artists.
  2. To create a platform for artists to distribute their work and control how it’s monetized.
  3. To create a blockchain documentary to serve as an educational tool.
  4. To create a science fiction series depicting the future ushered in by the technological singularity.

Currently running in beta, the Breaker dapp combines the tokenization tools developed for Tokit with an artist-friendly user interface allowing creators to upload films, music, and series to Breaker and creating smart contract systems to manage and automate the value flows associated with each piece of content. The team looks forward to the launch of our mobile application this fall.

With these first couple key objectives realized, the team turns now to their creative aspirations. They produced a documentary that tells the story of blockchain in a compelling, deeply humanistic way. Ultimately they decided to give the film back to the very people who made the film possible, their token holders. The stakeholders are all Trust Machine (TRUST) holders who are due to the theatrical box office receipts and licensing fees accrued by TRUST MACHINE: THE STORY OF BLOCKCHAIN to date. That amount of off-chain revenue is $16,001.35. It will be converted from fiat to ETH and sent to the TRUST rewards smart contracts for token holders to withdraw at will.

While no one’s getting rich off this film, the team is excited to push forward with what they described as the “Trust Machine experiment.” They believe that TRUST MACHINE is a powerful, accessible, educational tool for blockchain and a community-building opportunity for Breaker. As such, they’re kicking off another unique initiative around the film: they’re giving it away on Breaker for free.

Read Breaker blog and follow them on Twitter with more than 35 subscribers followers so far.

Also, check out Tokit, the first live platform for artist tokenization, enabling creators to launch their own digital token and share in their journey with their fans. Breaker’s tokenized ecosystem is run by the SNGLS token, which represents the intellectual property associated with each of Breaker’s applications and original content. Tokit allows content creators to build their own tokenized ecosystems around their intellectual property and creative works.

PeerTracks / SOUNDAC

Two sides of the same project, PeerTracks enables free streaming for fans and disintermediated payments, while being powered by the SOUNDAC blockchain (previously Muse Blockchain, in partnership with fin-tech platform OpenLedger and Danish bitcoin exchange CCEDK). On PeerTracks artists are paid instantly (with SOUNDAC Token: XSD), every time user listens to a song on PeerTracks, it instantly gets reported to the blockchain, which takes care of paying the royalties. PeerTracks attaches a smart contract to every song that an artist uploads and the contract automatically divvies up the revenues according to whatever deal the performer made with the lyricist, the composer, and other members of the band. Artists create their own tokens, bearing their name. Tokens are collectibles. The artist sets the number of available tokens. As an artist’s star rises, the value of the tokens rises, and so users could potentially benefit financially from supporting artists before they become famous. PeerTracks intends to pay artists more for streams and downloads — specifically 95 percent of revenues — and to pay them instantaneously on the blockchain. Artists can set their own price for music downloads and merchandise. The platform already has 1,130,925 artist royalty payments.

According to SOUNDAC latest development update (April 2019):

  1. Implementation of optimized login and account creation process.
  2. New RMP UI — Finished up coding began initial testing and bug hunting.
  3. Assist 3rd parties with setup to begin testing on SOUNDAC.
  4. Aggregator Services Demo/Review
  5. 3rd Party Application Review — the team reviewed an application that is in the concept stages and looking for a backend service such as SOUNDAC
  6. Discover page has been revamped with new blocks.
  7. PeerTracks.com landing page has been revamped with refreshing graphics.

Previously, PeerTracks load test was conducted to gauge the performance of the dApp as well as its communication with SOUNDAC and testing area for SOUNDAC API was set up to meet the QC requirements. A new “Partners” section has been added on soundac.io to showcase their strategic partnerships with OMI, A2IM, and DSound, popular decentralized music streaming services. On April SOUNDAC, announced its strategic partnership with BitSpace, a Norwegian award-winning technology company that specializes in blockchain services.

Follow PeerTracks on Twitter. APP: Android.

Musicoin

Musicoin is a music streaming platform that supports the creation, consumption, and distribution of music in a shared economy. The company’s blockchain platform allows for the transparent and secure peer-to-peer transfer of music. Their coin, MUSIC, is a global currency to support all trade surrounding music and music-related purchases. Musicoin eliminates the need for third-parties, which means that 100% of all streaming revenue goes to the artist. With the power of their blockchain platform, users can stream Musicoin catalog of music from independent musicians free and absolutely without ads. They can follow favorite musicians and stay up to date on their activities and creations, communicate with them directly and show an appreciation for their content by providing feedback, tipping, sharing songs and curating playlists.

Company has impressive partnerships, for example, Volareo smart speakers have integrated Musicoin into its speaker technology, so artists can be compensated instantly.

Development is ongoing. Musicoin team is quite active on GitHub, commits several times a week. For now, Musicoin has Mobile application, on both the IOS and Android platform. On May 15th, the Musicoin Project has released new blockchain software(V3.0), dubbed “QT” (Quantitative Tightening), to support the currency supply cut in response to the real status of the $MUSIC economy. The hardfork will reduce the chain yield to 50 MUSIC/block, from its previous 250 MUSIC/block.

Read more in Musicoin blog and follow them on Twitter with about 17 thousand subscribers so far. APP: iOS, Android.

Emanate

Emanate is a decentralized music streaming platform based on the EOSIOblockchain, it uses blockchain technology to allow artists to earn cryptocurrency in the form of the EMT token. Like traditional streaming models Spotify, iTunes and Google Play, Emanate allows listeners to stream music tracks, paying artists in cryptocurrency per stream.

Emanate proprietary Audio Exchange Protocol (AEP) aims to standardize audio data exchange across platforms, even mentioning giants like Spotify, Facebook and iTunes in their vision. While other platforms seem to be focusing more simply on the distribution of new music to end-users, Emanate wants to build a collaborative network around a music streaming service used at all levels of the production process.

For the artists, Emanate’s infrastructure aims to introduce trust into cross-collaborations using smart contracts to assign both intellectual property declarations and royalty splits while still in the composition phase. The implication is that instead of simply offering a place for artists to upload their work and earn cryptocurrency for streams, there would be more overlap between music producers during the writing stage. Their whitepaper hints at integration into the producers’ Digital Audio Workstations (p42) and audio recognition as a form of policing intellectual property and illegitimate uploads. In summary, Emanate is aiming to be way more than an audio playback service like Spotify.

Check out their blog. Follow the project on Twitter.

Dsound

Dsound is a blockchain-powered music streaming platform. It listeners to stream music tracks, paying artists per engagement (like, comment, repost). However, Dsound uses blockchain technology to allow artists to earn STEEM dollars cryptocurrency, which can be exchanged for USD or other fiat currencies. Dsound is basically a decentralized Soundcloud based on the Steem community publishing platform and the IFPS decentralized database. Like Soundcloud, it’s easy to comment on and repost tracks. There’s a high degree of average fan engagement per user. Dsound allows artists the option of providing full free download of tracks. Unlike most other similar platforms, Dsound allows for multiple user logins, which makes it an attractive option for labels representing multiple artists.

Dsound is the music response to DTube, a video publishing service also built on STEEM which rewards engagement in crypto payment.

Feedbands

Feedbands is a music subscription platform used by a vinyl-loving community to curate independent music and reimburse artists. Artists sign up and publish their work, allowing listeners to discover and download albums using Bitcoin cryptocurrency. Feedbands members pay a monthly subscription for the privilege of commenting and upvoting artists. Every month, the most popular artist gets a batch of vinyl pressings of their music sent to the top-tier subscribers. As the name suggests, the platform’s model is aggressively in favor of the artists. The promised royalty payout of 99.99% is one of the more attractive working packages out there for artists new to blockchain platforms.

Finally, Feedbands plants trees. At the time of writing, there are 6844 trees planted by listeners!

Read Feedbands blog and follow them on Twitter. APP: iOS, Android.

Pindify

Pindify is a blockchain-powered content publishing platform. It is built on the Ethereum. Like other user-generated content platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud), listeners are able to publish content to the platform. Videos, images, audio and text may be posted in the form of ‘cards’. Pindify uses blockchain technology to track and store the analytics of card streams and views and to distribute streaming payments of original content to artists. Their ICO ended in February 2018 and raised $18,342,000, according to ICOBench. Both users and artists pay to consume and provide the content. Subscription tiers range from $0–49 p/m for providers and $0–7.90 p/m for supporters. ‘Provider’ accounts enable artists to create and upload original content with optional monetization. ‘Supporter’ accounts enable users to view a selection of content cards according to their subscription tier. The platform thereby allows for both free and paid providers and artists. Artists earn JEMS tokens.

Check out their Twitter page. APP: iOS, Android.

Bittunes

Bittunes is a blockchain-powered music streaming platform. Listeners and artists are able to publish music to the platform and earn on the trade and purchase of music tracks. Bittunes uses blockchain technology to track and store the analytics of music track streams and views and to distribute streaming payments of original content to artists. The service is hosted on the Bitcoin blockchain and uses the FLEX token.

Artists are able to upload songs freely. Listeners and fans are able to stream full tracks ad-free and also purchase songs from $0.50 upwards. Purchased songs continue to generate revenue according to the number of subsequent purchases for the buyer after being purchased. Bittunes, therefore, conforms to a stock trading model rather than paying out artists on streams accrued.

Follow the project on Twitter. APP: Android.

Opus Audio

OPUS is an open-source decentralized music sharing platform with demo based on Ethereum and IPFS. Like traditional streaming models, OPUS’s aim is to allow listeners to stream music tracks and distribute streaming royalties to artists using the OPT cryptocurrency token. OPUS uses blockchain technology to track and store the analytics of streams and to distribute streaming payments to artists in real-time. Due to the files being hosted on IFPS, tracks can’t be de-listed from the platform or banned due to government restrictions. It also allows OPUS to reduce its storage costs, ostensibly enabling them to provide more to the artist.

Like Choon, artists are also able to split their revenue with listeners and playlist curators, incentivizing non-artist playlist compilers to engage and listen to more on the platform. Crowdfunding future releases will also be made possible through the service.

Opus Foundation posts development updates to Medium on a monthly basis. Here’s their July 2019 update. The team previously announced a complete redesign of the platform on the web and both mobile versions. Recently, the brand new Android version was released.

Check out OPUS Twitter page. APP: iOS, Android.

Inmusik

Inmusik is a music-focused social networking site using blockchain to help emerging artists share their music and interact with fans. On the Inmusik platform, users crowdsource artist rankings to show who or what song is popular at the moment. The platform focuses on paying artists, and fans, fairly. Inmusik’s cryptocurrency ($OUND Token) helps users boost artists to the top of the charts. Fans earn tokens for finding new songs, voting for best artists and supporting the community. The system is designed to reward those who interact with other community members, as well as those who contribute to the success of an artist, with crypto.

Developing is ongoing. Inmusik Beta is coming soon. Launching in 2019, Inmusik’s platform already has 18,000 registered artists who are ready to stream their music and produce engaging content for fans.

Check out an interview with Inmusik CEO Stephen Brett, who has over 18 years of industry experience as a musician, producer, sound engineer, recording studio owner, and now the founder of a platform for fan investment.

Read Inmusik Official blog (still no publications in 2019) and follow them on Twitter with more than 10 thousand subscribers.

Viberate

Viberate uses blockchain to manage millions of crowdsourced data points, with real-time rankings and profiles. It rewards community participants with VIB tokens, which the company views as a go-to digital currency in the music industry. With VIB tokens users can explore the platform and even exchanged them for items available in Viberate shop constantly updated with new cool items. Viberate is currently the world’s largest live music database, featuring more than 400,000 artists from garage bands and rising stars to DJ superstars and legendary rock bands, 50,000 events so far. It covers more than 100,000 venues: clubs, pubs, halls, stadiums which also can be filtered by genre, size or location. Today users can check out Viberate’s curated profiles that highlight an artist’s upcoming shows, social media engagement, and music videos. Talking about real-life use case, many popular artists have already claimed their Viberate profiles in order to better engage with fans.

On Viberate 3.0. that will launch this summer, every artist, venue, and festival will get their own digital ID with rich and up to date content. The platform will allow artists to present their best work to venue owners, festivals, and promoters and grow their fanbase. Venue owners, festivals and promoters will now be able to scout for interesting acts and get in-depth knowledge about their performance all in one place.

There is no recent activity on their public GitHub. Read Viberate blog and join them on Twitter with more than 33 thousand subscribers.

eMusic

eMusic is a digital music pioneer, serving over 47 million music fans since 1998. The team is committed to fair pay for artists and believes that decentralized distribution will remove inefficiencies that currently limit their potential to create music and earn a living. eMusic is a blockchain-based music distribution and royalty management platform that rewards both artists and fans. eMusic’s decentralized music platform features instant royalty payouts, a rights management, and tracking database, fan-to-artist crowdfunding and back-catalog monetization for copyright holders. It rewards fans by offering exclusive artist content, promotional incentives and cheaper prices relative to other streaming sites. Soon music lovers can listen to every artist from Frank Ocean to Powerwolf using eMusic’s membership tokens — the eMusic Token (eMU) — which ensure that artists are fairly paid. eMU is an ERC-20 token that provides holders access to exclusive promotions, exclusive content, loyalty rewards, it is to enable members of the music industry to independently crowdfund projects and promote their music through their fanbase and the eMusic platform. The value of eMU is in enabling blockchain utility for artists and fans on the eMusic platform.

According to eMusic Roadmap, the main goals for 2019 are rights and royalty management, publishing platform launch, content acquisition, 3rd party retailers integration, clearing house for large labels, crowdfunding launch. On July the team announced the next phase of the eMusic Blockchain Project: their eMusic chief Tamir Koch has just led a majority investment in a UK tech firm as part of a campaign to push forward the eMusic Blockchain Project.

Read eMusic official blog with the latest news on social encounters, new project advisors etc. Follow them on Twitter with more than 23 thousand subscribers.

BitSong

BitSong is trying to solve a major problem in the industry — payments. It is a music streaming platforms, which are built using the blockchain technologies and the IPFS distributed filesystem. The project is dedicated to musicians and their fans, which aims to overcome the bureaucratic and economic obstacles within this industry and reward artists and users for simply using the platform. On the BitSongOfficial platform, artists are to produce songs in which an advertiser can attach advertisements and users can access from any device. Funds via the Bitsong token $ BTSG will be credited to the artist wallet immediately and they will be able to withdraw or convert as they see fit. The $BTSG token also enables listeners to donate to indie artists and to purchase music. Artists need no longer to wait several months before a record label sends various reports, they can check the progress in real-time directly within the Wallet. The revenues will come from the miners and advertisers and all that is produced will go in the reward pool, in which they will be blocked, until a claim (stream, like, comment, etc) is made, thus making the advertising, an alternative tool, which will offer greater volumes to their currency. The pool will be divided as follows: 75% will be dedicated to artists and their listeners (division performed through a mathematical algorithm), 15% will be dedicated to our Validators and Delegators, 10% will be retained by the platform for various developments and services.

On July, the team launched the first BitSong Testnet, which started very well, without major problems and with an average of the 26 Validators Uptime very close to 100%. At the time of writing this article, around 170 thousand blocks were created, with an Average Block Time of approximately 5.62 seconds per block. At the moment you can observe the progress of the Testnet on the BigDipper, a block explorer offered by the Validator Forbole, which we thank for the excellent service.

As for Testnet-2, the launch is scheduled for August 15th, 2019. In Testnet-2 the team is introducing various tools and functions, which they are currently developing and which can be tested as soon as it is launched.

Also, a few weeks ago the team defined the partnership with Tichex, Cosmos’s first Crypto to FIAT bridge, in which members of their Boarding are directly participating in the developments.

To stay tuned follow the project on Twitter with more than 3 thousand followers so far.

Digimarc

Digimarc is a develops solutions for licensing intellectual property for audio, visual and image content. The platform is to support efficient and scalable identification of all media — audio, video, print, and packaging — enabling an unlimited amount of opportunities across all media properties. Digimarc Barcode makes content instantly identifiable by phones, software, networks, and other applications. The detection technology is powered by easy-to-deploy software development kits (SDKs). Works seamlessly alongside other audiodetection technologies and metadatatranscription methods, such as blockchain technology, to enable copyright holders to better maintain and get paid for their original works. Media enhanced with Digimarc Barcode triggers digital experiences that provide unique impression metrics and can be updated at any time.

Talking about real-life use cases, Digimarc’s Barcode was used by “The Angry Birds Movie” production company Rovio to track interactions with music in the Angry Birds app.

Follow Digimarc development progress on Twitter with more than a thousand subscribers.

Current

Current is a blockchain-enabled media network that rewards users for streaming media. Everyone who signs up can play media in Current from popular providers and earn in-app credits called CRNT. During the media playback, they encounter several opportunities to generate CRNT. Current constantly adding more ways to earn, so look out for important updates. You can download Current app in Apple store and Google play. Read their blog for more information.

2019 Product Highlights, according to the latest Current update are:

  • App Feedback On Android, their Android rating increased from 3.667 to 4.506. The increase in rating is a clear indication that users have been responding well to each iteration of the product.
  • Crash Rate Stability: their product releases have been between 92% and 98% crash-free.
  • Time Spent In App: +269% since the introduction of earning.

Priorities for Q3 2019: improved anti-fraud, additional ad partners, product stability and automated redemption.

Read Current blog for more information.

Res()nate

Res()nate is a streaming platform that favors a “stream-to-own” model for independent artists and is operated as an “ethical co-operative.” At the end of 2018 they achieved some great goals. Firstly, 66% of brand new tech infrastructure replaced old code built during the volunteer phase. They got financial investment and development support of Mycelia’s The Creative Passport which has enabled it to launch in alpha with a limited edition release and beta to follow in 2019. They completed rebrand and revision of product design and plans with over 40 sections and screens fully designed, ready for coding. Crafted a complex strategy for Resonate’s blockchain integration, including system requirements for a new metadata catalog management system for the independent sector. Strategic partnerships with LifeId, Warm and numerous trade associations were announced.

At present, the Res()nate is reconstituting a core team of volunteers to navigate the coming months as they look to hone their strategy and source additional funding. Starting in March Res()nate is open source.

With the relaunch, they’re very excited about the possibilities of reaching sustainability through revenue and member growth in 2019.

Check out Resonate 2019 Roadmap:

To learn more read their blog and follow them on Twitter with more than 5 thousand subscribers.

Audius

Audius is a fully decentralized streaming platform with a community of artists, listeners, and developers who collaborate and share music. Audius is basically a blockchain alternative to Spotify or SoundCloud. After artists upload their content onto the company’s platform, it will then generate timestamped records to ensure that all work is correctly recorded. Audius eliminates the need for third-party platforms by connecting artists directly with consumers. Additionally, Audius uses blockchain to ensure that artists get paid fairly and immediately via smart contracts. Currently, Audius is in the late development stage, the last commit on their GitHub was made this March. According to their roadmap, public launch will take place in late 2019. The company is advised by a wide range of big names in the music and tech industry, including 3Lau and executives from Robinhood and Twitch. In the summer 2018 Audius raises $5.5M from General Catalyst, Lightspeed, Pantera, and Kleiner Perkins to build a decentralized, community-owned music-sharing protocol.

At the end of April, the first artist uploaded their track to Audius:

On May, Audius launched Hedgehog to dramatically improve user experience in low financial value use-cases. Hedgehog is an open-source, client-side Ethereum wallet that uses a username and password and doesn’t prompt users to confirm transactions. It allows users to interact with your DApp just like they would any other website, no extensions required, without centralizing control of private keys.

Check out Audius blog. You can follow them on Twitter.

Also, read How Blockchain Could Decentralize the Music Industry in Audius co-founder Roneil Rumburg’s article in Coin Telegraph.

Aventus

Aventus Protocol is a global, open-source blockchain ticketing smart contract backbone, built on the Ethereum network. It allows projects to release programmable tickets with defined rules to help stymy scalping and create a disintermediated, sustainable secondary market. Jersey-based, Aventus Protocol Foundation is a non-profit entity whose mission is to develop and market the Aventus protocol, and grow an associated ecosystem. Neither the foundation nor its partners derive revenue from the protocol itself.

AVT is the fuel of the Aventus ecosystem. It is essential for aligning the economic incentives in the secure and transparent network to ensure fraudulent behavior is identified and eliminated. AVT is used by the network in 3 key ways: voting on the legitimacy of events in the protocol, creating a token-curated registry of legitimate applications, facilitating the non-deterministic matching of buyers and sellers of tickets in the secondary market By using proof of stake-like mechanisms. This is essential for preventing secondary market participants from circumventing the rules imposed by the rights holder, leading to unregulated resale.

On July 24, FanDragon Technologies has launched with $12 million in funding to spearhead the development of secure ticket delivery solutions for events and destinations by commercialising the Aventus digital assets-focused blockchain protocol. Veteran technologist and entrepreneur Robert Weiss has been named the founding chief executive officer.

The development is ongoing, the last commit on public Github was made in February 2019.

In Q3 the team is focusing on the following epics:

  • Aventus Protocol Proof of Authority Network v1 release
  • ZK-SNARKs (Continued)
  • Advanced Asset Rules Engine
  • Tier 2 P2P (Part 1/x)
  • Third Party Developer Engagement
  • Architecture Scaling and Resilience
  • Ecosystem Toolkit
  • AVT Usage & Full Whitepaper

Check out Aventus Network Q1 & Q2 Events Round Up 2019. Read Aventus blog. Follow them on Twitter with about 15 thousand subscribers.

Imusify

Imusify is a new music platform, built on NEO and well advised.

Their IMU tokens are NEP5 standard utility tokens, they are used as the engine to support Imusify’s multi-layered, decentralized music economy. This will create immense potential value for the token’s use throughout Imusify’s infiltration into the industry. Through Imusify smart reward and compensation system, IMU is either rewarded for contribution to the platform, or used as a currency for exchanging digital assets and services. By establishing trust and transparency between artists, supporters, fans, and industry service providers; a vibrant ecosystem emerges.

This March Imusify announced that they reached their soft cap goal of 1 Million USD during the private sale. This ensures the project’s long-term viability. Main sale began this April following MVP launch in September and platform launch in November. Check out their GitHub page.

On May, Imusify teams up with Dr. Rosemary Fitzgerald and the New York University students program. The partnership gathers the students from the Integrated Marketing Master’s Degree Program’ — who have been working lately on building a community for Imusify.

Read The imusify Team blog and follow them on Twitter.

JAAK

Built with buy-in from legacy music industry heavyweights, JAAK is a private blockchain network for intellectual rights management. At JAAK, the team is building a blockchain network that is to allow the music and media industries to collaborate on a global view of content ownership and rights. Common infrastructure enables a new approach: simplifying content licensing on the web, unlocking a world of new content experiences, and revealing previously untapped opportunities for the content industries — JAAK calls it Smart Content. The project is still on the prototype phase. There is a little activity on Jaak GitHub in 2019 (the link redirecting to Kord Network), as on their Twitter and no publications in their official blog since November 2018.

However, the team is quite active on the social side. They regularly attending industry events.

dotBlockchain

dotBlockchain is a rights management network integrated with blockchain for the tracking and monetization of media files. Dot Blockchain Media uses its proprietary data and user authority models, to identify and to remove bad actors, while at the same time being able to fix incorrect or outdated ownership data both before it gets to, and then once its actually on the blockchain. In other words, data remains secure, and contributors of good data are rewarded. Using existing industry standards like DDEX and CWR data, dotBlockchain architecture ensures that multiple parties can build a collective truth about a given song and/or recording and its owners through communication layers, public and private data sets, and blockchain technology to ensure that all data is current and synchronized. dotBlockchain management team is comprised of industry experts in their field and the project is well partnered. Still, there is no activity on their public GitHub since 2017. The project is quite active on the social side, the team regularly blogging, there are some social encounters. For example, last month dotBlockchain CEO, Ken Umezaki, was a panelist for “How Can Blockchain Technology Help The Music Business?” at A2IM Indie Week. On July their CTO, Chris Tse, was presenting at the Hyperledger Member Summit in Tokyo.

Follow the project on Medium and on Twitter.

ConcertVR

ConcertVR is to be the first blockchain-based marketplace for high-quality VR content from the music and entertainment sector created by Goodstuff-Media, located in Berlin. Since 2016, the team has been working on concertVR with full force and already have a fully functional prototype. concertVR will offer its tickets as in-app purchases, via common online ticket providers and also at stationary ticket counters. The revenue of the platform will be generated by the sale of usage periods for either a live concert, an on-demand concert or a single song. In addition, there shall be the opportunity to purchase a VR passport as an add-on to the real ticket. ConcertVR Token (CVT) will be running on Ethereum. After their ICO in 2018, they started a development phase. But ConcertVR still doesn’t have Roadmap for 2019. There is no activity in their blog since the last year. As for recent news, the team announced that the listing process on Coinmarketcap has officially started, and their concertVR Token is now officially listed on Latoken. Read more on their Twitter page. Hope the project will survive.

SoundArio

SoundArio is a new music streaming service that precisely measures the value of creating, sharing, and listening to music so that everyone can be rewarded. Using blockchain technology, dB cryptocurrency, and smart contracts, SoundArio creates a transparent and measurable music streaming platform.

Timestamp technology provides proof of intellectual property ownership for any user as an effective tool in potential copyright infringement issues. When musicians upload songs onto the SoundArio platform, the software automatically generates a smart contract with timestamps and equity information as a basis for determining rights and sharing revenue.

The blockchain technology SoundArio uses to measure playtime and provides proof of copyright will also create its own cryptocurrency dB, which is deposited into the digital wallets of eligible users. The two processes are inextricably linked: streaming of music on SoundArio mines dB.

Artists generate income through the playtime of their songs. Playtime corresponds to the percentage of time a song holds compared with the total playtime of all songs on SoundArio. Together with the song’s smart contract, this determines the share of dB to be allocated to the artist’s digital wallet.

You can already download an app in Apple store. As for marketing and the social side, the project is not very active. Check out SoundArio on Twitter.

Other initiatives:

Smackathon

Smackathon is a hackathon, a competition for development and business ideas that focuses on using decentralized blockchain in music. Created by Zeppelin, Pitbull and eMerge Americas the annual competition has seen blockchain-based ideas like decentralized streaming services, platforms that pay a listener for every second they listen to a song and fan engagement tools. The idea of the competition is to embrace a wider music fan base and ensure that artists are being treated fairly. All Smackathon projects must be built on Ethereum, and be related to music as their main topic. The winning team earns $6,000 plus the chance to secure investment to continue developing the project. Last year Smackathon had submissions from all over the world. The top 10 finalists of the 2018 Smackathon:

  1. Omnisone: Direct artist to listener streaming without the middleman (3 member team from Indianapolis, Cedar Rapids and San Jose)
  2. MusiXourse: An app to grow your fan base, monetize your talent and push the limits of the music industry (2 member team from Costa Rica and Colombia)
  3. Stubber: Digitally traceable ticket sales on the blockchain. (1 person team from Australia)
  4. CoinsHat: Enabling fans to use CryptoCurrency to support Musicians (1 person team from San Francisco)
  5. Sonify (Working Title): Decentralized Music Streaming Service (3 person team from Miami)
  6. EtherBandBattles!: Ethereum based game where contestants watch band videos with real-time chat and synchronized music video playback. (1 person team from Florida — city unknown)
  7. HyperValence: A crowdfunding platform that allows fans to support emerging artists by buying digital collectibles (Proof-of-Fandom) (3 person team from Singapore)
  8. Artíste — Crowdfunding Musical Talent: Patreon + Kickstarter for creatives on the blockchain…except much better! (2 person team, California and New Jersey)
  9. etherwave: An app to book concert tickets via Ethereum and also allow users to trade their tickets among themselves (2 person team from India and Toronto, Canada)
  10. VOXXO: Combines Music Player, Concert Investments, Music Licensing and aims to be a cryptocurrency (3 person team from Turkey and Los Angeles, CA)

Our Music Festival

The world’s first blockchain-integrated music festival network. The inaugural OMF took place on October 20th, 2019 in San Francisco.

GRMTK

One of the first musicians to throw his weight behind the blockchain movement, DJ Gramatik launched the GRMTK Token via Tokit in November 2017. Check out the video for Future Crypto.

Projects listed above are somehow active.

However, it is really hard to reveal which of the existing music blockchain projects is likely to be a failure or already dead. Only a part of the forty studied projects seems to be alive… So far… There are a lot of projects and initiatives, which disappeared without a trace after 2017 ICO boom or on a long-drawn-out bear market in 2018.

To list the most interesting of them briefly:

MediaChain

MediaChain was one of the first musical blockchain projects, a peer-to-peer, blockchain database for sharing information across different applications and organizations. In addition to organizing open-source information by issuing unique identifiers for each piece of information, MediaChain also worked with artists to ensure they are paid fairly. The company issued smart contracts with musicians that directly state their royalty stipulations without the hassle of confusing third parties or contingencies. Music giant Spotify acquired MediaChain in 2017 to help solve royalty payment and rights holders issues within the music industry. Mediachain Twitter and blog are not active since 2017, but commits on their GitHub appears from time to time.

Blockpool

Blockpool is a blockchain firm that was founded to create custom code, offer consulting services and help integrate ledger technology into a business’s current systems. In addition to its work in other industries, Blockpool was to create digital tokens, formulate smart music contracts and track licensing and intellectual property rights for the music industry. The company was to help musicians implement blockchain throughout the whole production, distribution and management process. In 2017 record label, One Little Indian, partnered with Blockpool to release European musician Bjork’s Utopia album. Blockpool implemented blockchain to provide digital currency incentives and to manage and distribute royalties. But still there no more information on project development.

Blokur

Blokur is to be a source for global publishing data for management and monetization of music. Blokur team said that they use both AI and blockchain to combine different sources of rights data in one database. The blockchain then allows music publishers to catalog their work for the community to see and unanimously approve. The company’s AI used to resolve any source disputes by scanning pertinent origination information to make sure the correct artists receive payments. But there is no more information. Blokur remains generally in “stealth” mode and is not likely to be more visible soon. Their GitHub page is almost empty. Last year they had announced a collaboration with Massive Attack to track remix rights on the blockchain.

On April the team helped Universal Music Group brands team with music publishing clearances for their Kinder Joy playlist campaign, live across Europe for Easter. See more info on their Twitter.

MusicLife

MusicLife is to be a blockchain-based music nonprofit platform that focuses on limiting piracy and establishing a new payment method for artists. Each song an artist uploads on the MusicLife ecosystem generates a MusicToken (MSCT). After 50,000 streams, an artist gains full music rights and can make his or her songs publicly tradable. The MSCT token initially gives musicians 100% share of a song’s income each day after accounting for listens and users that purchased the music. Like a stock market, prices of songs are based on the number of listeners, depth of listening and user activity. MusicLife recently developed a media app called Echo that has more than 30 million users. Echo users can earn tokens to make purchases in the MusicLife ecosystem by interacting with the app. Check out their 2019 Roadmap. The project looks promising but still, there is almost no activity on their GitHub and Twitter since 2018.

However, at the beginning of July, MusicLife launched the IEO on BISS Exchange and on July 26th, the team released MusicLife weekly update:

Musiconomi

Musiconomi used to be a streaming platform with tokenized payments that offers exclusive access to partner artists. Built on the Blockchain, Musiconomi (MCI) was designed to make this type of system possible. The suite of Musiconomi products was to enable complete control over user music experience. Some features included: designing your own playlists, streaming radio, hiring your band, buying artist merchandise and live experiences, leasing studio space, and building your own branded token. All features used to be available to token holders, enabling them to generate and earn rewards and build their business. But as we reveal, this project seems to be dead since the summer of 2018.

Volareo

Volareo intended to be a portable IoT speaker that integrates with existing blockchain-based streaming services to provide disintermediated payments directly to artists with digital currency. Still, there is no relevant and updated information on the project.

VOISE

VOISE is a blockchain-powered anonymous decentralized platform with personalized token based on Ethereum’s smart contract ecosystem for transactions. VOISE is a cryptocurrency-powered solution for the music industry that allows artists to monetize their work in a collaborative P2P marketplace. Artists upload their content, the platform recommends music based on a user’s preferences and users pay the artists (who receive almost 100% of the revenue) for their music. VOISE artists are also able to set their own prices, offer free sample tracks and even seek support from the music community. Currently, the platform is not finished and only supports the sale of music and not subscription service but many other options are yet to come after the platform release. This February the team released Android app, iOS — coming soon. You can read their 2019 Roadmap here. Follow them on Twitter with about 16 thousand followers.

Lava

Lava was hoping to build a blockchain-integrated ticketing platform that mitigates scalping and directly connects events with their audiences. But since 2016 there is no activity in this project.

Conclusion

It seems like today blockchain is not as close to fixing the music industry’s problems as optimists believe. There are plenty of complex challenges to tackle. One of the significant ones concerns blockchain itself: right now, blockchain platforms are not widely used, and most people have no idea what blockchain technology is and how it works. Another issue is that the majority of researched projects listed above remain mostly untested. To remain afloat, any company, no matter how ambitious, needs a clear technology and solid business plan. What we see is many promising projects are stuck or disappear without making a product. Most consumers already use an established streaming music platform, it remains much more natural for music lovers to use major platforms — Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music, YouTube, etc — to listen to their favorite songs from famous artists. They can use mobile apps on their smartphones and listen on the go. Blockchain projects still have little to offer.

Unfortunately, the new promising blockchain paradigm is not the reality of the music industry so far. It is still the bright and fair tomorrow expected by all of the blockchain enthusiasts and music lovers.

Let us hope that 2019 will finally be the year of the working products.

Sources

De León, Ignacio L.; Gupta, Ravi (2017) The Impact of Digital Innovation and Blockchain on the Music Industry // Institutions for Development Sector Competitiveness, Technology, and Innovation Division.

Hudzilin A. (2018) Blockchain Promise for Music Industry (Industry Background) // NEAR Protocol blog.

Tapscott D., Tapscott A. (2016) Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies Is Changing the World // Portfolio.

Paradigm fund

Paradigm is a family office fund investing in crypto space since 2013. We are a group of industry experts & crypto enthusiasts consisting of PhDs and graduates from the top universities with experience in creating startups, trading on traditional financial markets and blockchain

Sasha Shilina⬙

Written by

Data-driven journalism | Data science and visualization | @Paradigm_fund

Paradigm fund

Paradigm is a family office fund investing in crypto space since 2013. We are a group of industry experts & crypto enthusiasts consisting of PhDs and graduates from the top universities with experience in creating startups, trading on traditional financial markets and blockchain

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