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Cryptocurrencies: How Will They Disrupt — And Improve — Music Royalties?
Cryptocurrency's prospective influence on the music industry is as exciting as it is mysterious. So what will these blossoming digital formats mean for royalties when it gets down to brass tacks?
"Tech has already revolutionized how music is made, discovered and consumed. I think the next disruption is going to be with royalties, and how musicians will be able to get more direct, and better, pay through cryptocurrencies and other digital transaction services." — Conversations in Advocacy #2
While the concept of cryptocurrencies may be new to some, there is no shortage of entrepreneurs who have been paying close attention to the movement and devoting time and resources to building music platforms that can utilize the technology.
Choon, one new service coming in spring 2018, promises to implement the Ethereum blockchain technology to ensure royalties are immediate and accurate.
Choon is essentially a streaming service that will allow fans to purchase music using NOTES, a proprietary cryptocurrency that can be collected and distributed fluidly from fan to artist, returning 80 percent of revenue to the copyright holder(s) to be divvied up based on a "smart record contract" set up ahead of time.
At launch, NOTES will cost the listener 5 cents each and can also be earned by creating popular playlists, listening to promoted songs, and providing useful feedback, according to Billboard.
"There's this common misconception that there's no money in music, and that the only way you can make a living is touring, but that’s not really correct," said Choon co-founder Gareth Emery. "It's a $16 billion industry. What I realized though, was that the money is going to all the wrong people: intermediaries and middlemen who don't really need to be there. Choon is our attempt to fix these problems, cut out these people, and provide a much better deal for artists."
Another service shaking things up is Monero, an open-source cryptocurrency launched in 2014 that boasts a music catalog of more than 30 artists, including G-Eazy, Weezer, Motörhead, Kaskade, and Fall Out Boy.
"Unlike many cryptocurrencies that are derivatives of Bitcoin, Monero is a unique protocol," Hypebot said of the service, while adding that it "focuses on privacy, decentralization, and scalability."
With buy-in from major artists and a major holiday initiative dubbed "The Coral Reef Project" teed up to raise awareness of Monero, the service is pushing hard against the floodgates, hoping music consumers will open their minds and wallets to this new way of supporting bands and artists they love.
These two examples represent real-world implementation of the technology primed for disrupting an industry already in flux, and the best part is that artists, musicians and songwriters stand to reap the rewards.
"Conversations in Advocacy" is your weekend digital tip sheet on the policies that affect music makers and their craft. New installments post every Friday.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)
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Rep. Nadler: New House Judiciary Committee Role Could Benefit Music Creators
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) was named Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee last week, marking a potentially beneficial step forward for music creators and intellectual property.
In his official statement on the matter, Nadler outlined the chief issues of focus in his new role: criminal justice reform, the protection of women's rights, advancing equality for members of the LGBTQ community, demanding "common sense" gun legislation, defending consumers by overseeing further investigation into antitrust concerns, and defending the civil rights of all Americans.
In the context of the music community, Nadler is a longtime champion for music creators and a demonstrated expert and honest broker on music licensing issues thanks to his many years as the leading Democrat on the House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet.
Alongside Alicia Keys and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Nadler was honored at the 2015 GRAMMYs On The Hill by the Recording Academy for his support and understanding of music creators' unique role in enriching our lives and culture. Additionally, the congressman is the lead sponsor of the Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2017, which follows his track record of co-sponsoring many music-related bills.
In closing his public statement on ascending to his new role as Ranking Member, Congressman Nadler concluded, "This Committee is responsible for advancing the cause of justice for all, and my job moving forward is to continue that critical work. I look forward to working together with my colleagues on the Committee, and in the House of Representatives, as we take on these challenges together."
Music Piracy: How Fans Are Part Of The Solution
Guess what? Fans are not only an integral part of the lifeblood of the music industry, they are a great tool in the fight against music piracy.
"With the notice and takedown system so broken, we need all the help we can get keeping music accessible to real fans. It's great to see true fans be part of the solution, looking out for the artists and songwriters they love." — Conversations in Advocacy #1
Taylor Swift's latest album, Reputation, released Nov. 10, sold more than 1.2 million copies in its first week. According to industry insiders, the incidents of album pirating were comparatively low.
While torrent-based album ripping tended to be the primary means of music piracy in the past, more recently there has been in a shift in how music gets shared illegally. Nowadays, music is prone to circulate illegally on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, as well as via stream-ripping, which is one of the more dominant forms of piracy worldwide.
To battle piracy, it takes an army — artists, managers, record labels, and industry trade groups — and, increasingly, legions of fans, who have taken to reporting violations as well. In the case of Swift, for example, when the track list for Reputation was released online, Swifities themselves flagged and reported the parties who posted the track list.
With a notice and takedown process that is labor intensive and a lot like playing whack-a-mole as illegal content proliferates across the internet, assistance from music fans is welcome. Instead of ripping music for free, fan communities are now becoming a huge asset to ensure artists get properly paid for their work.
"Fan armies care deeply about their favorite artists and actively monitor for instances of a song or album illegally posted," a spokesperson for the RIAA told Billboard. "Our 'report piracy' inboxes and Twitter feed are often flooded with emails and tips. It's not only helpful, it's a hopeful sign about the mind-set of modern fans and their respect for artists."
Read more about how fans are impacting the fight against music piracy here.
"Conversations in Advocacy" is your weekly digital tip sheet on the policies that affect music makers and their craft. New installments post every Friday.