Complaints of musicians not being paid for their work are almost as old as the music industry itself. Disputes between writers, artists, and record labels have been going on for decades and, as each new development in distribution comes along (streaming services being but the most recent example), the web gets ever more entangled.
Now, thanks to cryptocurrency (or, more specifically, the blockchain technology that underpins it) there may finally be a way for musicians to keep more of the revenue from the streaming of their art.
One of the standout stories of the recent International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was the emergence of a blockchain startup company for the music industry, known as Vezt.
With initial funding of almost $5 million, the company is launching a royalties management platform which is is one part intellectual property (IP) protection, one part digital rights management, and one part financial exchange platform.
In essence, the rights holder will sell a portion of the rights to their song to Vezt. Users of the service will purchase the right to digitally stream by way of the platform’s subscription service, using Vezt’s own cryptocurrency to make payments.
The blockchain will keep a constantly updated and inviolable record of all streams and purchases, feeding back instantly to the company and the rights holder, who will be able to see in real-time how their song is performing. The royalties will be paid out in Vezt’s own currency or can be converted to a currency of the rights holder’s choice for a 5% fee, which is where the company will make its money.
With the beta phase attracting artists of such calibre as Drake, John Legend, Jay-Z, Kanye West and Dr. Dre, there is bound to be a lot of attention focussed on this bold startup. Should it be successfully implemented, it could have a profound impact not just on the music industry, but all across the arts, from ebooks to streaming movies.
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