The big deal with blockchain for musicians or artists is: better rewards from users streaming or buying your music online, since it’s more peer-to-peer. Your music is registered to you on a global open registry.
Another aspect: a more community-run platform, perhaps via a governance crypto-token to handle decisions on removing content, changes to the platform etc. Then, and perhaps the ultimate one: your music or audio creations remain available on a persistant platform, via decentralised storage options. That way, even if the founding company folds, the platform carries on.
Receiving rewards in crypto either from people streaming or buying your albums or music via smart contract is great. It might mean you keep some of those rewards in the active wallet for other uses in the ecosystem: purchasing mastering services, graphic design, or just discovering and tipping others via playlists.
In other words: the platform starts to have its own (increasingly valuable) currency as the website grows. It’s a brave new world for the ‘music site’ thanks to crypto.
These advantages may not be easy to grasp for everyone used to centralised services like Soundcloud who offer fast streaming, monthly subscriptions and feature-rich interfaces. Soundcloud can alter these subscriptions and they can also take down your content or start putting ads up everywhere etc if they wish. Maybe they’ll suffer a hack at some point too, and lose personal data.
Still early days
There are some sites beginning this journey. Blockchain sites can only (today) offer some of the benefits mentioned. The rest will take some time to arrive, for example fast, decentralised storage and a valuable platform token. Getting them off the ground just isn’t easy. However, they are emerging.
I’ve been previously excited with Choon, but it decided to close and its users were given the option of migrating with a portion of tokens to Emanate. They were swapped for the EMT token, on the EOS blockchain. I’ve put some electronic mixes on here, so you can see what a profile page is like.
At Emanate, you can earn EMT tokens when someone plays your tracks and can also stake them in a pool to earn more.
You can go more in depth about Emanate and its token at Everipedia.
They seem to be moving for the full community-run aspect, so may end up with 2 tokens you can earn.
Emanate’s Alpha site works quickly, and uploading and submitting tracks too. There are many options when you submit a track, including thorough copyright declarations.
An emphasis on collaborating with others on the platform, and splitting streaming revenue, may well bring more value to its token(s).
Moving on, I’ve also experimented with Audius and UJO, and both are working products. But it’s not easy to see what’s happening behind the scenes. Twitter updates are one sign, and Audius has been more active on this front than UJO.
I’ve uploaded some old guitar music to both and can experience the difference.
Audius is more feature-rich and is clearly focused on mimicking Soundcloud and yet capturing a significant user-base in order to then introduce more monetization.
Audius promises ‘anti-takedowns’ where Soundcloud has apparently been censoring uploads. This is very attractive for artists familiar with having to switch sites, justify their content is their own or have lost content when it goes under (like with darn Choon). For now, you’re limited to 200mb upload limit.
It uses Ethereum but its token structure is not yet clear, or its rewards yet available. It may involve a ‘LOUD’ token.
“Audius doesn’t actually host the music, but decentralizes it across independently operated nodes, which it believes will protect it from lawsuits and record label pressure.” source: techcrunch
These nodes will play an important role where individuals or entities can request content be taken down, should they breach copyright.
Read more about Audius at Everipedia…
With Audius you can now embed your playlists into websites. [You can hear my ole guitar tracks here on Ade’sPress].
UJO music requires more patience, is sparser and also uses Ethereum. You log-in just via MetaMask, and you’ll get an automatic, associated ‘hub’ wallet. The monetization is not yet ready (no withdrawals etc) but it has potential to reward artists directly for their efforts via smart contracts. The intention was to use DAI stablecoin too. They use ‘streaming state channels’ to handle the monetization of streaming (see FAQ link below).
It also needs to improve its Discovery ability and profile page features. The project might need more investment, or might have run out, which is a shame. At least it’s still running at time of writing.
I do love the design and tipping features. The option of buying collectible ‘badges’ of artists’ artwork is a nice idea too. It leverages the potential of cryptoart on Ethereum wallets and mixes it with music – for possibly a combined marketplace.
Note: You can’t yet delete content you upload to UJO’s decentralised storage system, so be careful what you choose. If your MetaMask is being too slow, try closing spare tabs, since this can affect performance.
Note: All of these sites allow you to make profile or album pages and upload tracks to form into shareable playlists or albums.
To conclude, I’m gunning for all these awesome projects, but it’s a rocky road ahead and adoption doesn’t come easily when Soundcloud and Spotify are so huge and have so many features, connections to app stores, Alexa etc.
For now, what’s really happening is diversity. But these new platforms are giving artists better long-term options, and if you ask me, the ‘permanence’ aspect of knowing your music is safely registered on a platform that never dies, is for me a killer feature. Others would say gaining exposure is. It’s something centralised or non-blockchain platforms will run into, at some point.
Meanwhile, Audius in particular is one to watch, and progress with its ‘LOUD’ tokenomics. Although, hopefully we’ll get more storage space than 200mb. One way round this is to upload as mp3 compression.
For musicians, a rule of thumb might be to get on board with only a few tracks for now. You don’t want to spend a ton of time submitting tracks, only for a project to disappear. However, since all these projects use decentralised storage options, the future is looking more solid.
Next to this, as more growth arrives eagerly onto these new music platforms/audio players/marketplaces/collaboration venues, they will start to share and rival each other’s features, which in turn will hone them into really cool platforms. One might be stronger than another for a certain area mentioned in this post, but they will need to pick up adopters via a slick user experience too.
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