The Question: Will Blockchain Solve Our Problems?
We asked a half dozen leaders in the music and technology field:
Do you believe that a blockchain solution will come into being? What will it take to get there and how long will it take before it is the primary method of music compensation?
Stephen White CEO of Dubset Media
Blockchain has become the buzzword associated with the idea of building a better infrastructure for the administration of music rights. It is a bit overhyped. There is no doubt that a new infrastructure is required and until that investment is made, the industry will continue to suffer from operating on the old, leaky pipes of the physical distribution system. It is quite encouraging to see investments being made into rights technology and the building of new systems for rights administration. Blockchain has a big part to play as the public ledger but it is not designed to be the primary method of compensation. It will take a few years for systems that use blockchain to come to market and to become adopted.
Jim Griffin Co-Founder of Pho and Managing Director of OneHouse
I interpret the goals of blockchain to be shared data, accurate reporting and fair payment according to agreed terms. These are good ideas, and blockchain needs clear, globally unique identifiers for artists and their art to work. Ultimately, it is about wringing the ambiguity out of the reporting process and that is an extremely good goal. Whether or not blockchain specifically will represent the final product is a bigger roll of the dice. But the motivations for blockchain are important and are the predicates for a sustainable eco-system for music, art and culture.
Sharky Laguana Founder/CEO of Bandago
Blockchain is interesting, but only if it comes attached with a "killer app" that makes the public want to adopt it en masse. It is probably too soon to say whether that app can, or will, be built. There are also some technical limitations around blockchain that have yet to be solved. In addition, there are a lot of larger players potentially threatened by the changes blockchain could introduce, so those hurdles will need to be overcome or worked around. I would put the entire blockchain concept in the long shot category, but it can't be counted out yet.
Vickie Nauman Founder/Owner of CrossBorderWorks
I believe the most valuable aspects of blockchain to the music industry are the decentralization and persistence of data. The drawbacks are the expense and speed of transactions, as well as the immaturity of the blockchain. I think we are quite a few years away from mass adoption of blockchain in the industry. But I am hopeful that the potential spurs new thinking and openness to technological solutions to a big data problem.
Paul Wiltshire Founder/CEO of Songtradr
I liken blockchain to religion. It has a significant faith component; that it can one day can solve all of our problems! Can technology adopt this file-type and create more transparency for artists and the business? Absolutely. However, the question is, when will every music business in the world be ready to adopt this? It would be a wonderful world if we all loved and respected one another as well -- no wars, prosperity, environmental awareness, etc. This might also take some time! Until then, the potential for more superior technologies and platforms that solve the same transparency problem may also emerge.
music techtonics is a publication of rock paper scissors, a music and tech public relations firm