As more and more music industry stakeholders look at blockchain as a potential tool to transform the industry, they are grappling with several key questions. One such question arose concerning Audius, a blockchain music company, and the question is whether it can deal with copyright laws?
It’s an important question. Given the complexities in the music industry, it needs technology solutions that promote decentralization of power and transparency. At the same time, if the technology in question promotes piracy then it might not take us very far!
The music industry as we know it puts artists in considerable disadvantages. New artists need to work with many intermediaries, e.g., publishers, collaborators, record labels, back-office professionals, lawyers, etc.
When a new artist gains visibility and fame after working with these intermediaries, he/she receives only a small part of the revenue. The majority of the revenue gets distributed to the intermediaries.
Moreover, the industry lacks transparency. Artists get revenue statements late, and they are often unable to figure out why their earnings are low. In other words, the music industry doesn’t quite put the power in the hands of the artists currently.
As Choon, a decentralized music streaming platform shows, blockchain can correct this imbalance. Built on the Ethereum blockchain, Choon lets independent artists list their work on its platform. These artists can get paid in its NOTES cryptocurrency, without intermediaries pocketing the larger share of the revenue.
How about the copyright, though?
Choon isn’t alone since other blockchain-powered music streaming services are coming up. Audius is a blockchain music company that lets new artists build a fanbase using its platform.
This start-up lets artists publish tracks and monetize their work. Artists don’t need to sign-up with record labels, therefore, they can bypass many intermediaries.
Audius enables high-quality streaming, unlimited uploads, dashboards, metrics, etc. In 2018, the company has secured $5.5 million in funding. So far so good, however, how does it fare concerning copyright laws?
Market observers have commented that this blockchain music company might not comply well with the copyright laws. Audius proclaims that it will never censor its users, and that’s quite in line with the decentralized characteristics of blockchain.
Blockchain is a decentralized and distributed ledger, where individual nodes can store their data and transactions. The security measures of blockchain, i.e., data encryption, consensus algorithms, etc. ensure the immutability of data. Smart contracts govern relationships between stakeholders, and these are tamper-proof pieces of code with irreversible execution.
Effectively, this allows the users of Audius to upload pirated content. The decentralized platform of Audius will enable all users to consume this content, moreover, the security features will resist censorship.
What’s the way forward for a blockchain music company?
The challenges in the music industry make it imperative for the stakeholders to seriously explore blockchain since artists need fair deals. At the same time, the decentralization of blockchain could make it easy to distribute pirated content.
Blockchain experts and the music industry need to find a pragmatic middle ground to protect copyrights as well as reward artists fairly using blockchain. Music aficionados need to wait and watch.