How Bitcoin Technology Can Revolutionize the Streaming Music’s Payments

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by Tatsiana Yablonskaya · 4 min read
How Bitcoin Technology Can Revolutionize the Streaming Music’s Payments
Report about music industry transparency from Rethink Music has already found support of musician David Byrne. Photo: Xflickrx/Flickr

Blockchain can not only serve as underlying bitcoin technology – it has power to modernize music industry.

In ideal world everyone gets a reward for what he/she creates. In reality everything is much more complicated. It’s not announced publicly but musicians get only a small part of money their songs earn. Some services have already thought over the idea of transferring fees directly to performers.

The launch of ChangeTip enabled sending tips to favorite artists all over the world. The service is oriented first of all on newcomers in show business letting them attract their audience. It allows a deeper interaction between artists and fans. The latter can now not only comment on the content they liked but also donate to the promotion of favorite artists.

Rethink Music has announced a report revealing a true way of how streaming services work. It describes all the intermediaries a payment for a song goes through and what part reaches the artist – following the money in music industry can often become a problem. The report has aroused interest and already got positive reviews.

Rethink Music uses the example of a song bought from Apple’s iTunes store, with $1 left for its rights holders after Apple Inc. has taken its part of the payment:

“This money would be split between the two different works contained in the song, with a 9.1 cent mechanical royalty going to the musical work, and the remaining 90.9 cents going to the sound recording.

Next, if the contract between the publisher and songwriter specifies a 75/25 split of revenue from downloads, the publisher would receive 6.825 cents and the songwriter would receive 2.275 cents.”

With an identical split at the record label, The label would receive 68.175 cents, and the recording artist would get 22.725 cents. The blockchain network could also further divide this 22.725 cents between the members of a band, if applicable.

This entire process would take place in less than one second, allowing all parties to access their money immediately after it is generated.”

David Byrne, musician, called it “a thing of beauty” while Willard Ahdritz, Kobalt founder, admitted “to be thrilled that an objective body, such as Berklee’s Rethink Music, made concrete recommendations for the industry that are very much in-line with values at Kobalt.” He considers the report to be a step to make changes in music industry and provide a future that better protects and secures creators’ rights.

Bloomberg agrees: “There are lots of ways money gets stuck in the system. Record companies, or labels, cut deals in which they take less generous royalty rates in exchange for equity in the streaming services themselves — and the chance to really cash in if these services go public or are gobbled up by even larger companies; individual musicians generally aren’t going to be included in those paydays.”

In our digital age users don’t get full information about a song. They mostly know the name of performer and creator of the song and date of its release – that is the basic data opened to everyone. All other contributors such as musicians, recording engineers and others remain unknown.

Bloomberg offers an optimal in their opinion way out – blockchain. Bitcoin underlying technology can perform two main functions at once: it will store real-time detailed information accessible for everyone and will serve as payment infrastructure for all fees.

The idea of using blockchain in different spheres including music attracts minds. Nevertheless D.A. Wallach, Spotify’s Artist-In-Residence, admits that turning the idea into realty is possible but is likely to take years: “The reason I’m not doing it is because I don’t want to spend a decade on it”.

Musicians themselves welcome the idea of applying blockchain to their industry. Rock band 22HERTZ has recently reported about its intention to copyright a song into the bitcoin blockchain. The band was the first (and we hope not the last one) to accepte bitcoin for album sales.

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