Ever heard of blockchain? If you have, maybe bitcoin is the first thing that comes to mind, but on Tuesday Shoreditch House’s library was packed with music professionals talking and listening to how it might change our entire industry. Blockchain is the new buzzword in the industry, but despite all the hype there is a lot of confusion about what it is, how it will work, and when it will be ready for use. Our Co-founder and COO Maria is part of the female music industry collective She Said So, and she was asked to put together a panel on this daunting topic.
We’ll give you the highlights from the day, but you can listen to the entire panel discussion at the bottom of this post.
Coming from a broad spectrum of disciplines in the industry, the blockchain panel was moderated by Sam Taylor from CMU (you can sign up to their daily industry news for free), with Claire Mass from Communion Music, Juliana Meyer from SupaPass, Elizabeth Larcombe from 7digital, Victoria Hesketh aka Little Boots and Phil Barry from Ujo on the panel.
So, what is Blockchain?
It’s a technology as well as a concept, and bitcoin is probably the most famous example of blockchain in use. The panellists pointed out that this technology is changing all the time, and so rapidly we’re not sure what it will look like in a few months from now. Blockchain is a way of storing, organising and sharing data, and it’s making its way into the music industry.
The panel discussed how musicians, managers and labels can use blockchain to fight fraud, create smart contracts and secure payments, to help with the industry wide issue of transparency and copyright databases.
How Will it Work?
The concept of blockchain is based on transparency; meaning information is visible to everyone. An example of this information or data could be all the details for a song, including who all the different rights owners are (writers, publishers etc.) and how much of the song they own. With blockchain data can be altered, but never erased (you will always be able to find historical data). Importantly, data will never be duplicated, as it’s always pulled from a main source. This gets rid of errors when copying information, which today leads to many song owners being paid very late, or sometimes never, when someone has used their song.
Sometime in the near future your DAW might have the option to bounce your music to a blockchain file, and streaming services like Spotify could decide that they will only accept new music in blockchain format. It’s not an easy concept to fully grasp but it certainly offers a lot of interesting opportunities.
When is it Ready for Use?
The short answer is that it’s already in use. Artists such as Imogen Heap and Little Boots are using blockchain already, leading the way for more artists to join in the ranks. The long answer… well, for blockchain to be successful it needs to be adopted by some of the larger players. We’re talking about major labels, streaming services and publishers. The panel agreed that only then will everyone else follow suit. When will this happen you might ask? Well, the panel had very different thoughts on how long it will take before blockchain becomes mainstream: one went for an optimistic 15 months, another to a dire 15 years (actually, Little Boots jokingly went for a million years). We’ll just have to wait and see.
Listen to the podcast below for the full discussion.