How Blockchain is Enabling the Next Phase of Entertainment Technology
Funding, distribution, and sustainability are just three reasons why creatives all over the world are turning to decentralized alternatives.
More than most industries, entertainment has maintained a symbiotic relationship with technology as it has developed over the decades. Not a little more than a century ago, the height of media technology was the printing press, but the 1900s saw the advent of mass communications, which led to an entertainment technology boom — one that we’re still in the midst of — that encompasses everything from camera, audio, lighting, animatronics, special effects, digital distribution, streaming, and the list grows on to include more recent developments like VR experiences and blockchain integration.
Nowadays, the notion of ‘entertainment technology’ is so vast that it’s worth breaking down the different arenas in which recent technological developments have changed the way that media and content are created and consumed. First, there’s the creative level: Everything from Wacom tablets to strobe lights aid in the creation of a media experience. There’s also the distribution level, how that media gets into the eyes and ears of the audience for which it was intended. There’s also the enterprise level, in which changing forms of doing business alter the infrastructure that makes media happen — and makes media money in the process.
Think of the film, television, or music industries prior to the year 2000. The legacy institutions in each industry segment exercised a monopoly of agency in what defined content and its value: Film studios, cable companies, major labels, chain record stores, and to become a bonafide creator meant going through the (often turbulent) process of engaging with such actors on their own terms. From Motown to TLC, the music industry is rife with stories of artists being treated poorly by the legacy media machine, and this top-down approach was (and is, in many cases) evident in every industry from canvas to the stage.
Fast forward to now: All you need is a computer, an internet connection, and a good idea to be a content creator build an audience, and develop a long-lasting and monetarily rewarding relationship with them. The platforms that have made this happen are plentiful and all worth exploring more deeply, and the timeline extends from Napster through to Twitch. Today’s biggest stars are as likely to emerge from behind a webcam in their living room as they are to have graduated from Juilliard! Yes, although the likes of Spotify or YouTube aren’t perfect, and could readily be criticized for many of the same inequalities of the media industry of old, but it’s clear that things have changed for the better for creators.
What’s been happening over the last quarter century in the entertainment industry is a steady and subtle process of democratization and decentralization. People have begun to understood that they have the power. But what platforms like Spotify and YouTube fail in is that, although they give people the power to create, they withhold the value created from the media to themselves and mete it out as they see fit in tiny increments. So although they have begun the process of democratization, it’s only the first step.
The clear and obvious answer to what technology can take this process further is blockchain. There are scores of projects and apps approaching decentralized networks, tokenization, digital currencies, automated rights management, and peer-to-peer, fan-to-artist platforms that completely remove the middlemen from the process. Disintermediation is the key word in this generation of entertainment technology, and we’re already seeing it in action.
Breaking things down further, here’s a look at the particular ways in which blockchain technology is the next step for entertainment technology….
In the media world of old, getting the funds required to produce a film or music project came down to finding backers — usually production studios in film or record labels in music — to take a project on and enable access to the media machine. Inherent in this process was the relinquishing of control and (often) rights by the artist to the powers that be, and over the years, an extreme concentration of access and wealth by those who held the keys.
Two things have changed this: First, the ease of access to and quality of affordable production tools has democratized who is able to make things, thus easing some reliance on financial backers, simply by way of art being more affordable to make. Second, crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter have done a remarkable job of proving the viability of projects being made possible by the audience that intends to consume it. Whole studio productions are routinely funded by the crowd nowadays, and that’s a huge rewriting of the status quo. That said, the Kickstarter model is rigid, limited, and is more geared towards one-off, philanthropic donations rather than a sustainable relationship.
Blockchain platforms like SingularDTV and Tokit take crowdfunding to the next level. On Tokit, creators can tokenize their work. When their fans and supporters buy a project, individual, film, or band’s token, the value created can be used to create on artists’ own terms. And what that token can be used for has endless potential depending on the creator and their fans. Check out cool projects like Space Beers and Javier Borrayo’s ‘LUZ’ for more details info on how Tokit works!
Over the past ten years, distribution has been one of the main arenas for the development of entertainment technology. Only a few years ago, Netflix was a company that delivered DVDs to the audience in little red paper packets. Now, it’s one of a number of behemoth digital streaming portal and is worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
But although the business infrastructure for distributing content has greatly decentralized away from the monolithic entertainment corporations and cable networks, gaining access to the apparati that make distributing high quality, high value content is still limited to large companies that own the portals themselves. Platforms like Netflix have made major moves into acquiring and creating their own media, but the process is still entirely centralized.
Already, music streaming platforms have taken out the middleman from the distribution process, and artists are paid directly per stream at far higher rates than the norm on the likes of Spotify. The next step is a decentralized portal for video. At the center of SingularDTV’s mission to build a decentralized entertainment economy — which has already seen the launch of Tokit and SingularX — is building this essential block of a new media creation ecosystem.
On a more philosophical level, intrinsic with the disintermediation the blockchain platforms offer creators is an opportunity to rewrite the rules of how the creative industries function. Although we are still in the early days of the blockchain evolution of the entertainment industry, we’re already seeing that when artists and fans interact directly, the value that’s created transacts directly between them, and that means it remains where it belongs and not in the pockets of a multi-national media conglomerate!
Already on SingularX, the decentralized token exchange of the SingularDTV ecosystem, Tokit-launched projects like superstar DJ Gramatik’s GRMTK Token or Guatemalan filmmaker Javier Borrayo’s LUZTKN are available for trade, and are continuing to create value for the creators and token-holding supporters who have made it all possible.
Although we are still very much in the early days of blockchain development, it’s clear that the technology will radically change the way that business is done in industries ranging from finance to government to gaming, and entertainment is no different. Modern day creatives are smart and scrappy, always looking for the next new development that can push their work forward, and blockchain projects like SingularDTV are providing the most novel and exciting new paths forward.