Accenture Consulting wrote in a recent post on its website that “with blockchain on the horizon, every company of every industry must re-evaluate their role in the value chain—where once again, the music industry is leading the pack.” Indeed, the music industry has historically been on the front lines when it comes to emerging technology upsets. And it looks like the pattern will continue. The narrative around the anticipated massive disruption in the music industry, given the promise of blockchain technology, is rooted in change that could revolutionize areas from the tracking of royalty payments to the rise of completely new gatekeepers in the arena. Several key players in the industry make 2019 predictions for the business that is the music industry, and some starkly contrast.
Explains Alan Goodman, part of the founding team at MTV and current Chief Brand Leviator at blockchain payment solutions company Aeryus, “Thanks to MTV there was a whole new eco-system around music. We didn’t just see video making as something that propelled musicians. Musicians were suddenly at the fulcrum of new businesses, and new ways of thinking about business.”
He continues, “More recently, we’ve seen how musicians who understand community building can control their own destinies by conquering social media, crowdfunding and digital channel creation. But blockchain will have a massive impact on how we do business in music because of the revolutionary decentralized infrastructure.”
Goodman says that during 2019 there will be much greater discussion around the control that blockchain technology provides and the ability to be fairly paid fairly an environment that prevents fraud, theft, and pirating. “The biggest discussions will be around copyright, as well,” he adds.
But Adrian Miller, CEO of Xyion and architect behind recording artist Anderson Paak who has sold millions of records independently, is not actually convinced about any of the hype around blockchain and sees very little change during 2019.
“Enterprise sales to a few large incumbents is one of the hardest things to do and it can take years, maybe a decade to see results. From that standpoint, I don’t understand how these blockchain based systems make enough money to exist at scale because they are trying to provide a lower cost and faster solution compared to existing databases,” says Miller.
He continues, “Blockchains are not better than existing databases. Why pay for a more expensive, slower database without a good reason? Players in this space are competing against systems that don’t need to change and certainly won’t for one that is inferior. If blockchain business models don’t disrupt the entire industry but instead rely upon converting a few big companies or organizations, its chances of success are diminished greatly so I don’t see much movement at all taking place during 2019.”
Miller says that he will continue research blockchain development while focusing more on traditional routes for creating greater awareness for all of the artists he works with such as Laroussi a Moroccan singer, via the Netherlands, with a debut album coming in 2019, written and produced by Philip Lawerence and Brody, the team who brought us Grammy-winning recording artist Bruno Mars.
Facundo M. Diaz, Executive Director Reality Code Foundation, a consortium of leading XR companies (VR, AR, MR) in partnership to create a decentralized and open source blockchain industry solution to register XR assets, has a different vision.
“Many artists are finding ways to creatively explore new business opportunities in XR.
With approximately 171 million VR users,
and AR in every mobile device, the motivation for the music industry to expand their business in these new technologies is huge, but they still need to understand the best way to create something that inspires users to pay,” explains Diaz.
He says that new platforms such as Magic Leap will offer fresh ways to tell stories and distribute music content and experiments will begin during the coming year.
“I have no doubt that during 2019 we’ll see music talent and XR developers working together like never before, creating new and amazing ways to experience music. At Reality Code, we are currently connecting talent with XR developers and investors. Providing artists the opportunity to register their XR projects in a common industry ledger allows them to transform simple projects or content into assets.”
He says that such assets, given the advent of smart contracts via blockchain, will simplify how investors invest and the manner in which benefits will be distributed. But he says that there will be many challenges ahead, quite naturally.
“Uncertainties and risks are the key roadblocks ahead of us all,” says Diaz. “In this early stage of XR technology, everything is experimentation. It’s still unclear what business models will emerge, all the ways XR content will be monetized, and what consumers will be willing to pay for so we’re working on ways to implement blockchain to create definitive options.”
Finally, Bryan Calhoun, head of Digital Strategy at Blueprint Group, a leading artist and entertainment management firms representing top recording talent from the Grammy-nominated Nicki Minaj to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon house band and Grammy-award winning The Roots adds additional perspective.
“I think the two biggest opportunities revolve around rights management and ticketing,” he says. “Both are going to take time to get done correctly, but companies like Dot BC, Tari and Big Neon are, respectively, leading the way with exciting projects that have traction.” He says that we will see more movement in this area during the coming year.
Imogen Heap who have been leveraging blockchain for their artistry, Calhoun says, “I love that artists are experimenting and exploring use cases for the technology. It is still very early days though. The fact that the price of BTC and other currencies have fallen 80% in the past year means that those who are still in it are doing so because they believe in the possibilities created by underlying technology, and are not just looking for a get-rich-quick scheme.” Should digital currencies rally, as many hope and forecast, this could change quickly, though, during the latter half of 2019.
Calhoun also explains that hip hop artists and fans are traditional cultural arbiters who and make platforms cool so if any forward movement happens in blockchain, rest assured it will come from this genre next year and beyond. “I suspect this trend will be the same for blockchain and music. It’s just very early still and it is complicated, but I suspect it will happen,” adds Calhoun.
Goodman concurs and takes things a step further saying, “Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter, brilliant guitarist for Steely Dan, the Doobie Brother makes the point that record players were only for playing music until rappers started using them as instruments.” He continues, “Artists are great at taking technology and rethinking how and why to use it, and you can bet we’ll be seeing artists and musicians doing things with blockchain soon that we can’t imagine today.”