The economy that underpins the cultural industries has not kept pace with the technologies that support the creative arts. You can create movies, music, songs, and other works of art with little more than a smartphone and a computer. And you can publish your creative content to YouTube, Facebook and other platforms without spending a dime.
But if you want to make a living as an artist, you will have to overcome many obstacles. There’s a long list of brokers, publishers, streaming companies, licensees, retailers, and more that stand between you and the monetary value of your creative work. And they all want their share.
Very few artists can challenge the norm and go it alone. The rest must make do with the little dominating intermediaries let them.
This is something that can change thanks to the blockchain, the technology that democratized money. Many experts believe that blockchain has the building blocks to build platforms that can help producers of art and creative content get their due.
A fair and transparent economy
The blockchain is a distributed ledger, a database that exists on multiple computers at the same time instead of a centralized server. None of these computers exclusively own the blockchain. The nodes that maintain the blockchain validate each new record before adding it to the ledger. By its nature, the blockchain is transparent and immutable.
These are the features that have enabled blockchain to disrupt many industries that previously relied on centralized brokers. Bitcoin, the first blockchain application, allowed users to store and exchange digital money without the need for banks, clearinghouses, credit companies and other financial intermediaries.
There are several ways artists can benefit from blockchain and a handful of companies and organizations are already exploring them.
An example is StreamSpacea startup that wants to change the film industry by challenging the way centralized hubs like Netflix and Amazon dictate the rules for content, pricing and royalties.
The StreamSpace platform runs on the blockchain and is governed by the community of consumers and artists that make up the network. Consumers pay for network content using StreamShare tokens, the company’s proprietary cryptocurrency. As with all transactions made on the blockchain, payments in StreamSpace go directly into artists’ digital wallets.
There are two obvious benefits to paying for services on the blockchain. First, it’s transparent, meaning anyone can see the payment history for a specific movie or TV series, and how those payments were split between the parties involved. It’s a break from the opacity that plagues payments and royalties in the music and film industry.
Second, blockchain creates a direct relationship between consumers and artists, which incentivizes a healthier economy. Knowing that their payments go directly to the people who helped create their favorite works of art and not to greedy gatekeepers, users will be further encouraged to avoid getting involved in piracy and illegal distribution.
In StreamSpace, users can purchase tokens in fiat currency or obtain them as compensation by sharing their free disk space with StreamSpace’s distributed storage network, which hosts the platform’s content. This model solves one of the biggest problems facing all video streaming and distribution platforms. For example, Netflix, which runs on the AWS cloud, spends hundreds of millions of dollars on storage expenses every year.
StreamSpace will also allow blockchain crowdfunding campaigns to help independent directors and producers move their projects forward with the help of the community. The project will be supported by a first supply of parts expected in the coming months.
Another company trying to make the film financing process fairer is the The 21 million project, a blockchain-based startup named after the Ultimate Bitcoin Supply Limit. 21Million, which will also be the name of a movie and TV series the company is developing, plans to use blockchain to create a libertarian ecosystem to fund film and TV content and manage the distribution of copyright assets. author in a fair, open and transparent manner. way.
Decentralized automation with smart contracts
One of the very interesting aspects of blockchain is smart contracts, transparent pieces of code that run on the network without the need for a centralized application server. Smart contracts can automate processes such as managing rights and distributing funds between artists and producers.
Ujo Music, a blockchain-based music streaming platform, uses smart contracts to automate payments and make the process more fair, transparent and flexible. Artists can define smart contracts to establish pricing, license terms and payment distribution rules for each of the content they upload to the platform.
Users trigger the smart contract by sending cryptocurrency to its address on the blockchain. The smart contract determines the type of rights and license purchased by the buyer (personal use, commercial use, etc.) based on the amount paid, and registers the user’s purchase on the blockchain. The smart contract directly distributes the payment among the stakeholders based on its predefined rules. In addition to compensation automation, smart contracts add a layer of transparency that allows artists to clearly see how their content is being used and who is using it. It will also provide content consumers with an easy way to prove ownership of their license.
Ujo also uses blockchain to create a metadata description database for creative content, a component the industry has long lacked. In 2015, Ujo tested its platform in collaboration with award-winning artist Imogen Heap, a singer promoter of blockchain technology. Since its launch, Ujo has welcomed several artists.
The basic ideas of blockchain for the creative arts are the same as those that apply to other industries: create a platform where no one entity can unilaterally set rules for others, and where all parties involved can act in unison and benefit from community improvement. in its entirety. The centralized models did not give such results. But as these case studies and the work of other startups show, blockchain could finally level the playing field and allow artists of all levels to be compensated for their contribution to making people’s lives more enjoyable.