Imogen Heap is a good example of this – she has helped to establish an organisation called Mycelia that is attempting to change the way the music industry operates. File sharing and the global nature of the internet have made it far harder for musicians to get paid when their work is downloaded or used.
By embedding blockchains into the digital fingerprint of a song, however, it should be possible to record each time a track is played on a radio station or used in a YouTube video.
“The song itself will have the ability to pay all the people involved whenever it is played or purchased,” explains Heap. Information about all the contributors – from engineers to musicians - can be embedded into the blockchain, along with data about the equipment used to record it.
“If a radio DJ plays it they can get information about what the song was written about, who was involved,” says Heap. “If an artist wants payments for using a song to go towards a charity for the next two weeks, they can create the contract so it diverts money into a different account. Blockchain is the technology that makes this possible.”
Of course, for this to happen it will require the music industry, radio stations and online platforms like YouTube, where music content is often used on posted videos, to sign up to a system that will distribute royalty payments using automatic blockchain contracts. Heap believes the industry is starting to wake up to the idea that there needs to be changes as it struggles to deal with payment disputes triggered by online streaming companies like Spotify.
But Heap’s vision goes further. Mycelia is attempting to create blockchain-based “Creative Passports” for artists that will record their entire history of work. Every time they play a gig, for example, the venue could validate that on their creative passport by “checking them in” with an app, helping to produce a single repository for an artist’s entire career.
This digital record of achievement could be appealing outside the creative industries too – no need to fish out certificates to prove that you achieved exam results when applying for jobs, for example. Prospective employees could simply submit their blockchain-based CV instead.
“There are going to be loads of jobs emerging involving blockchains,” says Heap. “Blockchains are going to be a big part of our lives and we are going to need a lot of people to help make the changes that are coming.”
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