Myths around Blockchain and Music

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Introduction: The B Word

In the 90s I was part of the telco boom. I recall a conversation with an experienced telco engineer about what we now call broadband but then was little more than a prototype by British Telecom named ADSL – he was convinced it would never be made available to the public. You’re using it now to read this.

In 2004 I was representing a royalty calculation software company at Midem. A label manager told me he was confident the full extent of the internet’s impact on music would be as another channel for mail order sales of CDs. Happy Days! 

They were both wrong. We don’t even say broadband anymore. We talk about using the internet and google maps, not TCPIP and GIS. In due course ‘blockchain’ may well fall out of common parlance as focus shifts on to the applications it powers. 

 

When this piece was first published here, this was the part where I said – ‘Thankfully we are now entering the phase of Gartner’s Hype Cycle for blockchain where the opportunists and chancers are starting to fall away. We’re a long way from the days of Long Island Ice Tea company rebranding as Long Block Corp overnight in 2017 (and subsequently folding)’.

Then NFT’s happened, or at least it seemed that way. All aboard the hypetrain!!!

Once again the conversation around blockchain got dumbed down and polarised. NFTs are either the magic bullet or simply ‘stupid’. There are no magic bullets. How can the concept of a contract be inherently stupid? You can do stupid things with it, certainly, but that isn’t an NFT.

An NFT is not a kitten meme or a piece of digital art and certainly not rights to IP (intellectual property), it’s the contract that pertains to those things. You might hear people talking about ‘turning a song/art object into an NFT’ – that’s not a thing. When you lease an apartment, you sign a contract – that doesn’t turn the flat into a contract, right?

Fungible and Non-Fungible Tokens (i.e. unique or not-unique) have been around for some time. Simply put, it’s a bit of data, on a database (blockchain ledger). You can think of that bit of data as a contract.

The mechanics of that got somewhat lost in the clickbait headlines and rush to either cash-in or condemn.

The real-world applications for blockchain and the companies behind them weathered the initial hype-storm, continued to learn and develop their offerings and are now offering tangible benefits to artists and music multinationals.

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