As the blockchain continues to find more and more adopters thanks to social platforms like Twitter and Discord, people are searching for new ways to adapt this emerging technology for other uses. Simply put, people want to feel more ownership over the content they create and consume, hence the explosion of NFTs in early 2021 (disagreements over whether owning an NFT is really owning the genuine article notwithstanding). And now, emerging companies like Royal and eMusic are letting musicians embrace blockchain technology, too.
Many musicians have been keen to sell their music through the blockchain—after all, it’s not as if artists make much on streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. Combine this with the reality that music tours may once again be halted by new COVID variants and lockdown restrictions, and it’s easy to see how generating more income by cutting out corporate middlemen would be appealing.
In the midst of these significant changes to the music industry, new companies have emerged to help onboard artists skeptical of this new approach to selling their content—and they’re only able to convince naysayers through impactful marketing.
Technology puts control in the artists’ hands
Take eMusic, for example. Located in New York City, this blockchain-based music platform works to ensure artists are fairly compensated for their work relative to other distribution platforms, all the while offering listeners rewards and services when they use membership tokens.
Seems like a pretty easy sell, right? But you’d be forgiven for thinking it sounds too good to be true at face value. eMusic seems aware of this—it’s why they’ve designed the front page of their website to pretty closely resemble something like an iTunes, Bandcamp, or Tunecore.
On their front page, you’ll spot advertisements for recent releases and upcoming concerts from contemporary artists like Goodbye June and Psapp—not exactly household names, but blockchain technology isn’t really designed for established artists like Adele and Ed Sheeran anyway.
Scroll down eMusic’s front page and you’ll find album charts, links to purchase new singles, staff listens, artist spotlights— the works. eMusic’s message is clear to see: the blockchain is a difficult concept to wrap your mind around. Like the broader internet and technology writ large, the goal then isn’t to get people to completely understand how it all works, because that could take two university semesters’ worth of time to pull off.
Instead, eMusic uses their marketing to try and communicate that, really, they’re not looking to change how you go about selling, purchasing, and listening to music when you go with their blockchain platform. All that’s really changing is where people go to obtain content, and how much artists make as a result of any sales. And while getting people to transition over to new services can be like pulling teeth, it becomes a lot easier when the storefronts and interfaces resemble what you already know.
While eMusic did originate before the advent of the blockchain, they’re embracing the newer technology. If you’re keen to go deeper on the particulars of how the blockchain benefits you as an artist and as a consumer, you can visit their NFT page which has its own tab visible at the topmost section of their site. There, you can buy NFTs of songs delivered to the eMusic platform directly from artists using either cash or Ethereum, a cryptocurrency that’s purported to be more environmentally friendly than other currencies (though eMusic doesn’t neglect to make a note about the blockchain’s general impacts upon the environment).
New services opt to pay musicians via unique cryptocurrency
Of course, there are a number of other companies operating at the intersection of music and the blockchain. A quick glance at Mediachain’s website will show you how their approach to building a world that bridges the gap between creators and audiences was far more entrenched in the nitty-gritty technical minutia of blockchain tech aficionados—namely, programmers. I say “was” because Mediachain was actually acquired by Spotify in 2017 to help the company solve the music industry’s issues with royalties and rights management, though this purchase may speak to the streaming giant’s desire to wade into the blockchain.
Musicoin is a music streaming platform built on the blockchain but which actually pays its artists in a proprietary cryptocurrency, $MUSIC. The platform focuses on independent creators, and streaming music available on their platform is actually completely free. While paying artists in a proprietary currency seems like it would be unappealing, at the very least the platform is a way to get more listeners to follow musicians along their artistic journeys.
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Blockchain technology still faces legal growing pains
Still, blockchain proponents have more widely taken to social media outlets like Twitter and Discord to spread the word about blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs, especially as those platforms have embraced (and sometimes walked back) this emerging technology. It’s also important to note that the blockchain is an emerging technology—the legal aspects of this space are still being worked out as legislators start to get wise to what’s going on.
All the same, it’s clear that blockchain isn’t going the way of the dodo anytime soon, so more and more companies will find ways to get their current product offerings on the chain. After all, the music must go on.
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