Blockchain technology is a big buzz word these days and a lot of people are saying that it’s going to revolutionize the industry. As Blockgeeks put it, “Picture a spreadsheet that is duplicated thousands of times across a network of computers. Then imagine that this network is designed to regularly update this spreadsheet and you have a basic understanding of the blockchain.” In other words – it’s just what Google Docs has been for a long ass time, and this is a key thing to understand. The technology that defines a lot of blockchain has been around for a decade and we’ve been seeing a gradual shift towards it anyway, there hasn’t been a revolution recently, it’s just that someone came up with a sexy name for it, and it has become the latest way for bands to be able to promote themselves with their work and the way they develop their careers. Except it’s not. It’s actually a crock of shit and that’s very important for you to understand.
Now it’s bullshit for a variety of reasons. First off – it’s not a new thing, blockchain has existed within the music industry to some extent since the beginning of music streaming and interactive data telling you where things are being listened too. It’s not like you want to listen to a song as it’s being written. It’s just a further decentralization that we would expect from companies like Spotify. This isn’t a revolution, it’s just another step in the development of the internet and it’s one that is simply going to make already accessible information more accessible. This is of course both a good and a bad thing. It’s good for people going out and trying to book tours, the problem is obviously that that literally doesn’t matter if you don’t have the relationships in place already to start booking dates and doing cool things. That’s what it really comes down to. The people who claim that blockchain is going to change everything are simply not operating within the real music industry. They aren’t getting their through their scenes, they are bullshitting their way through.
Beyond that I think you need to appreciate the real danger of blockchain and how it is devaluing independent music more than ever. A lot of these new apps coming out are using all manner of cryptocurrency in order to incentivize people to get involved because ‘It’s just like real money” u of course it isn’t. What they are doing is giving you funding through their made up currency that has no actual worth outside of within their own store to work for them and create revenue for them. This can either be through manually updating their databases, something far too many eager folks looking to work in the industry have done, or by streaming their music and claiming to ‘reward’ you for paying into their system when in actuality you’re just helping them develop even larger portfolios. This is going to be ah uge issue with blockchain down the line, but it’s important to realize that a lot of it is based on using models that make sense for major artists where relationships don’t matter as much, but when you’re DIY you can’t rely on that – that’s why all those venue database sites are pretty much useless!
Also – can we take a second to appreciate how incredibly fucked up it is that people are essentially coming out and saying “Hey, my company is going to reward you in our unique cryptocurrency that literally only we care about. That’s how we want to pay artists in the future.” Like – does that make any sense to you? Does that seem like something that is moderately helpful, like at all? No They are taking you for a ride and also hinting at a really dark side of capitalism that hasn’t existed in hundreds of years and is probably illegal. But because of ‘blockchain technology’ artists are going to inevitably buy in and get paid out in tokens that literally mean nothing and which have no stability. There is no way to fix prices on these things and it means that you’re probably going to end up wasting a lot of time on services that claim to ‘reward’ you but in fact are just giving you access to resources you could have googled yourself and which are useless without working to build up your own reputation around your scene.’
When it comes down to it I am aware that I sound like a scared old man who doesn’t want to embrace new technology and the future of the music industry. I get that that’s the vibe I give off sometimes, but this is coming from a good place and a very experienced place where I look down the barrels of guns all across the world and realize that none of these people are actually bringing anything of merit to their scene because they are not an active part of it. That’s the issue with any new technology. Unless it directly facilitates your ability to interface with people, like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter do then it’s inevitably going to fail. All of these sites aren’t trying to give you the direct connection, rather the illusion of one. And let me assure you, an email address means next to nothing when you don’t know the person behind it and your band has no clout of your own. I know that’s rough to hear but you need to accept it and get ready to move on, because that’s simply how so much of this industry shakes out time and time again.
This is an industry that very frequently moves very slowly, no matter what other people might tell you. That is to say – if you look at things like piracy, the biggest change to hit music in the last 100 years, I can tell you that it took four or five years for that to really become influential, and that was after Napster hit. I don’t think that blockchain technology, which isn’t really granting greater access to music like piracy did, nor is offering tangible and real relationships like social media is going to change things. It will make access to information easier which is always good, but that’s not really what you need to be sinking your teeth into. Step back and try and figure out what actually helps and then get back to me – it’s probably not cryptocurrency and blockchain though.