The music industry in 2018: YouTubers are stars, stars are brands, brands produce content, content is everything, everything is content, and nobody pays for music. Things have changed a lot in the music business recently.
While on one hand, the traditional infrastructure has morphed and shrunk, the individuals who create and engage with the art itself have grown, totally changing the way they think about business, branding, and what it means to have a successful career.
What’s been going on in the music industry over the past quarter century has been a steady development towards decentralization. Where once institutions like record labels, studios, distribution centers, and record sales defined what success was in the music business, advents like streaming platforms, digital audio workstations, and the disintermediating power of the internet have eroded the landscape into a more even playing field.
The potential blockchain technology holds to take the music industry — and the entire entertainment industry, for that matter — to the next plane is multifarious. Whether it’s through crowdfunding, programmatic IP, distribution, event ticketing, ownership of non-fungible assets and collectibles, streaming, blockchain technology and (sometimes, but not always) digital currencies, blockchain can be used to re-imagine the entire process of how music and art is funded, created, distributed, consumed, and all over again.
This is why music and entertainment have become some of the most active spaces in the blockchain world for technological development. Many people may look at cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and think that blockchain is all about finance and deep tech that won’t affect them, but scores of music-centric blockchain startups are proving that not only can decentralization create substantive change in the daily lives of everyday people.
To offer a more complete view of developments in the world of music and blockchain, we’ve put together a list of projects approaching the space in their own way. The list is by no means meant to be exhaustive, and preference was given to platforms that are already live or maintain current updates on development:
The decentralized entertainment economy, SingularDTV is an ecosystem of apps that help artists create and distribute their music and collaborate in their journey with fans.
A streaming platform with its own digital token, Musicoin is free for users, and pays artists directly in a disintermediated fashion, while also experimenting with Universal Basic Income for contributing creators.
The first live platform for artist tokenization, enabling creators to launch their own digital token and share in their journey with their fans
An app that consolidates media streaming platforms and rewards participants for engaging.
A decentralized token exchange made primarily for creators and participants in SingularDTV’s decentralized entertainment ecosystem.
A streaming platform that favors a ‘stream-to-own’ model for independent artists and is operated as an “ethical co-operative.”
A decentralized streaming platform that disintermediates fans and artists, and a developer toolbox for the music industry that enables projects to integrate Ethereum.
Led by avant-pop singer Imogen Heap, Mycelia is an initiative that aims to bring technology to the foreground for independent musicians. Heap’s ‘Creative Passport’ tour features seminars and events on blockchain tech, and an app is said to be forthcoming.
A streaming and distribution platform launched in part by DJ Gareth Emery, Choon facilitates disintermediated distribution and payment between artists and fans.
A non-profit launched at the Berklee College of Music, the OMI is working towards creating a universal, open-source protocol for music rights and publishing
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.”
A streaming platform with tokenized payments that offers exclusive access to partner artists.
Still in prototype phase, Volareo is (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.
Approaching an ‘internal beta’ release, Vezt is a music rights marketplace that enables fans to buy into the rights of artists via an ‘ISO’ or ‘Initial Song Offering.’
The world’s first blockchain-integrated music festival network. The inaugural OMF will take place on October 20th in San Francisco with ZEDD.
Blockchain for event ticketing, Aventus allows projects to release programmable tickets with defined rules to help stymy scalping and create a disintermediated, sustainable secondary market.
Similarly, Lava is hoping to build a blockchain-integrated ticketing platform that mitigates scalping and directly connects events with their audiences.
Built with buy-in from legacy music industry heavyweights, JAAK is a private blockchain network for intellectual rights management.
Two sides of the same project, PeerTracks enables free streaming for fans and disintermediated payments, while being powered by the Muse blockchain
A rights management network integrated with blockchain for the tracking and monetization of media files
If you have thoughts or questions about the list, or if we’re missing an amazing music-centric blockchain startup, stop by the SingularDTV Discord channel and let us know!