Can blockchain technology truly revolutionize the music industry? Some people think so.
To tackle the music industry’s widespread database and payout problems, blockchain startup Blokur raised $1.2 million in funding last September. The company represents more than 3,000 music publishers and 10,000 songwriters.
Ahead their IPO, to avoid further litigation over attribution problems on its platform, Spotify purchased Mediachain Labs. The British-based startup operates on blockchain technology.
Truly believing in the technology’s power to change the music industry, Icelandic singer and songwriter Björk promoted AudioCoin with her latest album. Fans would earn 25 cents in the virtual currency after purchasing Utopia.
Then, last month, over 40 major artists, including Mariah Carey, G-Eazy, and Sia, lined up to support Monero. Dubbed “Project Coral Reef,” fans could buy discounted merchandise and music from these artists using the cryptocurrency. The news sent the privacy-oriented cryptocurrency to record highs $249.58 per share.
Finally, Slovenian electro producer Gramatik earned $2.3 million in 24 hours, becoming the first DJ to launch his own cryptocurrency.
Now, one company has a novel idea. Why not stream your favorite music on a smart speaker and get artists paid whenever you clap?
I can make your hands clap.
The Musicoin Project and ROCKI have announced the creation Volareo, the world’s first smart speaker powered by blockchain technology.
According to information shared with DMN, Volareo lets users listen to a lifetime free music while providing instant compensation to musicians. The smart speaker uses Musicoin blockchain technology that will reportedly pay artists $0.10 per play (at current valuations). This, says ROCKI, makes popular streaming services’ payouts seem “downright stingy” in comparison.
ROCKI dubs itself a music innovation company that creates solutions, bringing music, audio, technology, and people together.
Each Volareo smart speaker comes with a unique wallet address pre-loaded with $10 Musicoin. To allow for added compensation with tips, music fans can reward their favorite artists by clapping their hands. They can also press a button on a mobile app. Musicoin’s online platform reportedly has over 2,500 artists signed up.
Speaking on Volareo, Nick Yap, founder ROCKI, said,
Isaac Mao, creator Musicoin, added,
Is anyone truly ready for blockchain, though?
The ability to support artists with a press a button or by clapping your hands seems promising. Yet, as with most initiatives centered around blockchain technology, several key questions remain unanswered.
First, how will anyone ensure that Volareo’s creators pay artists the right amount? Several months ago, bitcoin-based streaming music startup Arena Music also boasted about higher payouts. Its founder, Damon Evans, proudly boasted that his service would eliminate the music industry’s “black box,” which favors platforms and major labels’ revenue. Soon after writing about Arena Music, though, multiple artists and organization reached out to Digital Music News. They accused Evans and Arena Music failing to pay up. The startup reportedly owed Neurotic Media over $25,000. Once DMN exposed the startup’s failure to pay, Arena Music quietly settled its debt.
Second, Volareo’s entire premise runs on fans and artists actually lining up behind and supporting Musicoin. As I previously wrote, what will happen to companies like ROCKI and Arena Music should blockchain technology they so readily champion fail to deliver? In the music industry, blockchain technology remains largely untested. Many artists have no idea how the technology works. Converting payouts to actual, usable currency is complex and highly impractical.
Besides allegedly fering “higher payouts,” what advantages truly exist for lining up behind each company’s respective cryptocurrency?
Third, you constantly hear about startups and artists launching their own blockchain initiatives. Gramatik launched GRMTK. British indie producer and DJ Gareth Emery has vowed that his startup would pay artists 80% their streaming revenue in Ethereum. Project Coral Reef will deliver music and merchandise revenue to major artists in Monero. To fix YouTube’s terrible payouts, and provide an alternative to Patreon, former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich launched Brave. Users on the Brave browser could contribute to their favorite content creators with Basic Attention Tokens. And that’s just the beginning.
With so many blockchain solutions seemingly launching every week, which one will artists rally behind? Which one will actually work for musicians?
ROCKI and Musicoin aim to deliver Volareo by the end 2018. Yet, can Volareo truly deliver an innovative product that may help inspire others to follow suit? Or will it end up as yet another product in an already-saturated list seemingly generic blockchain solutions?
Featured image by ROCKI