Since the 2000s, the music industry has experienced major disruptions: appearance of MP3, multiplication of “peer to peer” downloading networks.[i] »And development of streaming platforms. These tend to disadvantage musicians who consider themselves “wronged”.
American rapper Eminem said bitterly “when I put all my heart and energy into making music, I would like to be recognized for my work. I go to great lengths to provide a song that anyone can find on the computer and download for free. What would be the point of making music then? “. If he raised the problems related to illegal downloads and their remuneration, other celebrities also sound the alarm on the opacity of copyright management.
While false notes are still numerous in the music industry, the Blockchain and its decentralized trust system offer an alternative to the traditional system.
Copyright management and remuneration: the song of discord
You’ve probably heard of conflicts between composers and their record companies? It’s normal.
The system on which the music industry is currently based is complex. Between the composer and us consumers, a song passes into the hands of many intermediaries including musicians, labels in charge of production, publishing and distribution, collective management companies in charge of copyright ( SACEM), or digital service providers.
Thus, these stakeholders are linked by different types of contractualization.
Sometimes artists have to wait up to two years before receiving payments for sales of their music, that is, after all the actors downstream in the chain have taken their rights.
According to Digital Music News, in 2018, streaming platforms sold an average of € 0.89 per song while they paid artists € 0.012, or 1.35% of the sale price.
Streaming has helped revive the growth of the music industry, but has strengthened the balance of power between artists and other players. However, Blockchain has the potential to break down barriers inherited from traditional industry and put the artist’s choices back at the heart of the system.
Give voice to the singer via the Blockchain
Concretely, what is the Blockchain? It is a transparent and secure information storage and transmission technology, operating without a central control body.
All users are connected to each other by a network. Transactions between two users are grouped into blocks and each block is validated by the nodes of the network. The block is then time stamped and added to the blockchain visible to the entire network.
Therefore, once the musician decides to use the Blockchain to disseminate his creation, he can follow all the flow of his music until listening, control his rights and the income from sales in real time.
He can choose either to make his music available directly to audiences, or to work with other players in the chain using “smart contracts”.
To do this, the actors define in advance in a multilateral way, the conditions of use and remuneration, which once validated, will be automatically executed.
The Blockchain also offers the possibility of carrying out financial transactions to the nearest cent: we are talking about a micro-payment model which is based on real consumption and can replace the current subscription system.
Blockchain in music: is it coming soon?
You certainly say to yourself that it is “too good to be true” because otherwise why this system is not already in place?
Several initiatives already exist, including that of Imogen Heap, English Pop singer, winner of the Grammy Awards in 2010.
In 2015, she chose to sell her album “Tiny Human” for $ 6 per download on the Ujomusic platform running on Ethereum, an exchange protocol similar to the Blockchain. Thanks in part to this revenue, she went further by founding Mycelia in 2016, a blockchain-based decentralized music distribution platform, giving artists the ability to monitor online sales of their works in real time.
Admittedly, this movement will certainly gain much more momentum in the coming years, but as in other sectors wanting to initiate the Blockchain, progress is progressing timidly due to several brakes:
* The technical brake: the speed of transactions is long compared to current systems so there are obstacles to the massification of transactions
* The political and legal brakes: how to govern and adapt the texts to such a new technology?
* The psychological brake: tendency to associate the Blockchain with a very complex technology and the implementation would require major change management efforts.
It remains to be seen how the music industry tycoons manage to find answers to these questions …