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How the Blockchain Could Help The Digital Lives of Musicians and Artists

By Samantha Radocchia, Co-Founder at Chronicled (2015-present). Originally published on Quora.

We’ve all heard about the woes of musicians and artists who can’t stop the illegal use of their work online. It’s become one of the most frustrating problems for any creative.

But this is an area where I think blockchain has the potential to help. Tokens, the digital assets that are created using Ethereum’s platform, just might hold the key to helping artists and other content creators regain control of their work.

Here’s how.

The Tokenization Of Rewards

One of the ways this could work is the tokenization of everything, which would mean tokenizing the rewards you get based on clicks, purchases, views. When a piece of content registered on the blockchain is viewed or listened to, that interaction is logged, and the creator is rewarded for it.

This is a concept being kicked around in the music industry right now. Imagine if an artist could create a track and distribute as they do now, only in this scenario there’s a definitive record of how it’s used and where it came from in order to collect royalties. If it’s sampled and used in five new songs, there’s a way to ensure that the artist is being paid for that use. Mycelia, a company founded by musician Imogen Heap, is currently attempting to use blockchain to “help musicians make money again.”

Tokens As Licenses

In other cases, companies are working toward platforms that allow consumers to access work using tokens as licenses. Again, the goal here is to put power back into the creators’ hands, rather than the distributors’.

Take Publica for example. They’re promising to revolutionize the publishing industry using smart contracts that govern access to books, payments, and revenue distribution. They’re pushing the use of Ethereum tokens as license keys to access e-books. In theory, it will give authors greater control over the works and ensure that they’re properly paid. They can even pre-sell their books by selling tokens. Because the token is necessary to read the book, the success of the book sales can be clearly verified on the blockchain. Tokens equals sales. Simple.

Bringing Value Back To The Creator

Imagine that you’ve just created an infographic for your company, and suddenly it takes off. It’s getting shared left and right, clicks are through the roof, and it’s done exponentially better than originally expected. Normally, you might get a pat on the back for a job well done. But what if you were automatically rewarded for a set number of clicks or shares? What if you had a partial ownership in that content you created?

We could even see a model where everyone who was involved in the creation of a certain project has fractional ownership of it, and is rewarded for their participation when it contributes to companywide success.

This movement is trying to bring value back to the creator. Right now the environment online is such that the people who actually create things are rarely rewarded to the same degree that their publishers or providers are. What we’re trying to imagine here is a system that would give these people more control over what they create, and a transparent process for paying them for their work. It might sound somewhat utopian, but companies like the ones I mentioned earlier are already fighting for it.

Building A Base To Work With

This all sounds pretty great to those authors, musicians, and content creators who’ve watched their creations be enjoyed and shared without seeing much in the way of a reward. But if we’re going to reach this sort of utopian ideal, there’s plenty of legwork to be done first.

I’m really excited about the enthusiasm for these projects, and the creativity behind the concepts of these tokenized companies is amazing. But a lot of them are just not technologically feasible. And out of the concepts that are sound, many aren’t really marketable at this point.

I mean, I love the idea of giving people the credit they deserve, but the transition hasn’t happened yet. We need a larger base adopting blockchain before this can really work. We need a wallet in every person’s hand, or blockchain running on their phones.

It definitely isn’t out of reach, and it is going to happen. But we’re still waiting on the force that’s going to tip that first domino.

By Samantha Radocchia, Co-Founder at Chronicled (2015-present). Originally published on Quora.
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