Since its introduction in late 2009 as the source code of an exciting new alternative currency, Bitcoin, blockchain technology has come far from its better-known sibling. It has created a niche for itself as the singular technology that has the potential to revolutionize every aspect of human endeavor.
Anyone associated with the music industry would swear by the times before the digital age started. Music was created, CDs were sold, royalties were obtained and paid, and all was good with the world. While there was piracy in the form of bootlegged CDs, authorities could easily trace fake CDs, and the loss was kept at a minimum. The creation of mp3 files ushered in the Age of Darkness, and piracy became rampant and untraceable. Websites like Napster spawned a whole new breed of piracy sites that allowed people to download music illegally for free. This led to a loss of revenue for everyone who was involved in the creation of that music. While platforms like iTunes endeavored to provide legal ways to download music from the Apple Store, other “free” sites soon mushroomed and were constantly at loggerheads with the law.
To become famous overnight, many new artists upload their work on social media to gain virality. They also take this route due to their inherent fear of the quagmire that is the entertainment industry as it stands today. Unfortunately, on social media, they fail to establish ownership of their original work, lose it to a more influential artist or a media house, and finally lose morale to produce new work. While Taylor Swift has the clout and wherewithal to sue giant corporations for infringement of copyrights and composition rights, not every artist can stand up against the media behemoths.
Most artists are at the mercy of the “artist management system.” While touted as a bridge, this system is essentially an obstacle between the artist and her fans and allows only limited contact between the two and only as and when it suits the system. Today, the artist has to rely on talent agencies, event managers, studio producers, and the like to stay relevant. And in trying to stay in the good books of these intermediaries, artists lose focus from creating quality works of art. A result of the system’s ego-centricity and haphazard resource allocation is frustrated artists and fans alike who wait perennially for a new launch.
Many other aspects of the entertainment industry are also mired in inefficiencies and a lot of heartburn for those involved. These involve calculations of royalties, the excessive time required for payments, event management, ticket sales, cheating on contracts and whatnot. The time is ripe for disruption in an industry known for its whimsical players and their idiosyncrasies.
Nope. Not entirely. While a lot of power has now been taken away from corporations who would traditionally hold sway over most of the artist’s career, things are still far from being ideally in favor of individual artists. With the rise of music apps, musicians have suddenly realized that the freedom they got from record labels comes with a massive task of self-driven management, marketing, and creative innovation to survive. Today, artists need to be entrepreneurs first and creators second.
To be financially successful in the age of Spotify, artists need a lot of effort to be part of playlists. But with exceedingly narrowing attention spans and the problem of plenty, this is a Herculean task. The modern artist faces many other challenges, all of which can paint a pretty gloomy picture.
The beauty of blockchain technology lies in its simplicity. A decentralized, trustless, yet incorruptible hyperledger (distributed ledger) that records all transactions with a definitive “timestamp” and encrypts to a level that makes faking them practically impossible. “Smart contracts” execute agreed-upon contract terms and rules, making the entire process seamless, effortless, and without intermediation.
A distributed ledger is a type of shared database that is synchronously replicated among all network members. The network is essentially decentralized, meaning there is no central controlling authority. This ledger records all transactions occurring between participants of the network. All updates on the network occur with the consensus of the participants. No central authority is involved, and every transaction that occurs has a unique cryptographic signature and a timestamp that serves to authenticate it. This makes the ledger an immutable and auditable history of all transactions on the network.
Blockchain technology can solve most current problems plaguing the media and entertainment industry. Let us see how.
Blockchain in media and entertainment offers a wide range of solutions to the various challenges faced by the industry. By leveraging the unique features of blockchain, such as decentralization, transparency, and security, it can address several longstanding issues and pave the way for a more equitable and efficient ecosystem.
Platforms like Vezt offer a music rights marketplace that allows fans to fund the artists, songwriters, and producers they love more directly. In exchange, fans can receive royalties earned from their favorite recordings. OPUS seeks to take on the issue of unfair royalty distribution in music streaming head-on, operating a decentralized music hosting, discovery, and listening platform that allows users to support artists more directly.
Many blockchain-powered music platforms allow fans, using a pay-per-view or a similar model, to enjoy their favorite artist's work. The artist, in turn, gets paid almost instantaneously for every view/download.
The progress and eventual popularization of the concept of the Metaverse have allowed many artists to leverage its remarkable capabilities. Famous artists like Travis Scott and Justin Beiber have already hosted their concerts in the metaverse. Warner Music has teamed up with the metaverse project The Sandbox to create a virtual performance space.
The applications of blockchain in the media and entertainment industry are vast and varied. By leveraging the unique features of this technology, stakeholders can create a more transparent, secure, and equitable ecosystem that benefits creators, consumers, and everyone in between
Yes. Decentralized technologies have started the next revolution of empowering artists and fans and brought the two closer together without the mediation of the large corporations. The experiments are paying off, and many developers are motivated to try and disrupt the entertainment industry with unique blockchain-powered platforms that protect and reward artists and content creators while providing a safe, secure, and accessible way for users to access and enjoy quality works of art.
To be in tune with the changing times, the most important names in the music industry created the Open Music Initiative (OMI) (including Sony, Music, and Warner, as well as Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, Viacom, and more than 200 members) that is exploring the use of blockchain to help identify the rightful music rights holders and originators so they can receive fair royalty payments.
Having seen the success of many blockchain-powered platforms that seek to transform the entertainment industry for the better and the enthusiasm of the corporate world as well as the general public to this revolutionary technology and its myriad implications, there is not a shred of doubt that the coming future will usher in many novel business ventures that seek to leverage the immense possibilities of blockchain technology. It is only a matter of time before more creative and innovative blockchain applications are developed and implemented across different industry segments. The only limiting factor is the imagination of what these technologies can achieve.
As this technology matures, we can expect more transparency, efficiency, and fairness in the media and entertainment industry. Blockchain can reshape the way artists are compensated, how intellectual property rights are managed, and how fans interact with their favorite artists and content creators.
Moreover, blockchain's decentralized nature can democratize the media and entertainment industry, reducing the influence of large corporations and intermediaries. This shift could foster a more diverse and vibrant creative landscape where artists and creators have more control over their work and receive fair compensation for their efforts.
The disruption caused by blockchain technology in the media and entertainment industry has already begun, and it will only continue to grow in the coming years. The transformational impact of blockchain on the industry will undoubtedly lead to a more equitable, transparent, and innovative ecosystem for artists, creators, and fans alike. Let us stay tuned to find out what comes next!