CEO and co-founder of Corite, a startup that allows fans to invest in their favorite artists and share in their success.
Over my 20-plus year career, I have worked for a variety of media companies across a range of industries including telecom, video gaming and music. The common thread across all of these industries is that they were fundamentally transformed by the digital revolution.
Nowadays, no one thinks twice about listening to music on YouTube or buying albums on iTunes. (Full disclosure: YouTube and Apple are commercial partners to my company for music distribution.) However, I can still remember when buying CDs (or even tapes!) at a record store was the norm and digital distribution was a new, confusing and even intimidating idea to the average consumer. I see many similarities between the emergence of the internet in the 2000s and the early applications of blockchain in 2022.
In this piece, I will outline a few ways that blockchain is already being used within the industry, in the hopes of providing a jumping-off point for professionals to begin exploring this emerging space.
Traditionally, fans have supported artists by buying their records, streaming their music, going to their concerts and buying their merch. All of these actions have two things in common: Someone other than the artist typically ends up with most of the money, and there is no further engagement or connection between the fan and the artist. Consumers put money in, the revenue goes to a company and some percent of that revenue trickles down to the artist. The end.
My company and others are working on blockchain based crowdfunding platforms to provide a powerful solution to this problem. Cryptocurrency can facilitate the direct transfer of value between fans and artists, while the use of NFTs and smart contracts ensure that there is an accurate record of all transactions and the rules governing these transactions are enforced. The way in which the end user benefits varies from platform to platform, but in every case the artist receives funding, and the fan receives some benefit in return.
The Decent platform uses this kind of model. However, there are other alternatives: On Audius, users earn tokens by interacting with artists, sharing playlists with other users and other various platform interactions. The hallmark of all these systems is that not only is the middleman removed, but both artist and audience share in the value created.
Probably more than anywhere else, I think NFTs need to be used in the ticketing business. Unscrupulous individuals frequently use fake passes, fraud schemes and fragmentation to steal from those who wish to attend musical events. Even the various methods of verification used by large platforms are often ineffective in dealing with it. Tickets are often repurchased and resold multiple times.
The incorporation of NFT technology into ticketing could reduce the number of vulnerabilities in the system. Instead of a piece of paper, people who buy digital tickets can get a valuable, unique asset. That is why Coachella has collaborated with FTX to provide fans with lifetime passes and other benefits.
As the number of non-fungible collaborations grows by the day, it appears that NFTs offer brands a chance to stand out and capture the attention of a new audience.
Memorabilia has been a huge part of the music world for decades. Collectors from around the globe regularly attend charity and private auctions in order to get their hands on part of music history. These sales are now extending into the digital world, where NFTs are being used to digitally represent rare and desirable artifacts.
Earlier this year, Julian Lennon auctioned off a handful of NFTs based on Beatles items from his personal collection. The sale was quite successful. However, this is not the only example of the memorabilia market moving into the blockchain realm. An announcement in February unveiled a collaboration between Universal Music Group and NFT platform Curio to offer digital artwork and other collectibles based on their artists.
A Question Of How And When
In these early stages of blockchain development, it is hard to predict which use cases will become adopted by the masses. I can easily imagine a world 20 years from now where fan crowdfunding and revenue sharing are common practice or one where tickets to every kind of event are based on NFT technology. However, it is also possible that the blockchain-based “killer app” that fundamentally changes the industry doesn’t even exist yet.
If you are a business leader who is interested in blockchain but don’t know where to start, the best advice I can give you is to get “into the sandbox” and start playing. Watch some YouTube videos, buy a cheap NFT and play around with a few decentralized applications. The amount of quality resources available for new users has exploded since 2020. In my experience, it’s hard to envision how and why the technology can be leveraged until you experience it firsthand.
Second, I would suggest utilizing your personal network (and beyond) to reach out to others who are already working with blockchain. Many people who have taken an interest are keen to share their knowledge and insights with others. In general, the blockchain industry is incredibly collaborative and full of projects and companies ready to explore partnerships that can accelerate interest and adoption.
If history has taught us anything, it is that early adopters tend to benefit the most from disruptive technologies. I urge industry leaders to embrace blockchain technologies and start thinking about new ways to leverage their possibilities—maybe your idea will be the one that changes everything!
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