Here Bobby Owsinski outlines why the rise of streaming culture has largely nullified the viability of a blockchain-based system for selling music, and why services like Audius, which do utilize blockchain tech, are more susceptible to piracy.
Guest post by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0
I started getting blockchain music pitches about 4 years ago. In every single one the central theme was the same – “Blockchain is going to save the music business and allow artists to charge a fair price again.” I’ve heard so many similar claims that now whenever I see blockchain mentioned in a pitch I immediately trash it.
Want to know why?
The big one is the premise that now you can get people to pay real money for music since it won’t be able to be illegally copied and distributed anymore. The problem is that the barn door is open and the animals have fled years ago. When music consumers can hear what they want for free or a small monthly fee from a streaming service, plus choose from a catalog of millions of songs, why would then choose to pay CD-level money from a blockchain-based service, at least on a mass scale?
The other thing is that the major labels have some very tech-savvy people employed that tend to see every new music-oriented product and innovation at least a year or so before it’s even released. They’re also good at making money. Don’t you think if a music-related product based on blockchain were viable that they wouldn’t have been all over it by now?
Which brings us to Audius, a new blockchain-based streaming service backed by some major Silicon Valley money that’s showing that the benefits of blockchain can also be its downfall as well.
The big problem with Audius is that some unscrupulous users have been uploading unlicensed versions of popular songs by Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, Kanye West and other major artists. Blockchain makes piracy more of a headache because there’s no way to either take down the pirated versions, or make metadata changes so the correct people get paid.
It’s been speculated that Audius rushed this to market under pressure from investors, so they never bothered to set up a Content ID-type system like YouTube and SoundCloud use to be able to catch copyright infringers. Now, everyone is out of luck.
To be clear, I’m not against blockchain as a technology and think that there are plenty of potential applications for it besides cryptocurrency, maybe even some in music. I would prefer that companies using it not make a big deal out of it, and treat it the way they would as any software infrastructure that they’re using. Mention it, but don’t put it front and center as a benefit.