Hackernoon logoIs the Music Industry Unfair to Its Artists? by@febin

Is the Music Industry Unfair to Its Artists?

Febin John James Hacker Noon profile picture

@febinFebin John James

This paid story is brought to you by eMusic.

In the following viral video, Liam Gallagher groans that he is forced to make his own cup of tea because “no one buys records anymore”.

In the earlier days things were simple, if you make a hit record, you would be rich. But, things have changed now!

In the streaming model, consumers only pay based on their consumption. If you are an artist who uploads content on youtube, for each streaming play you receive $0.0007.

In order for you to accumulate the national minimum wage ($1,472), you require 2,102,857 streaming plays(estimated).

It doesn’t help the service provider either, spotify has a rolling debt. They operate on investments instead of profits. Hence, how can they incentivize artists appropriately?

But, this doesn’t mean people spend less on music. In fact, last year’s music revenue has been the highest in comparison with the past ten years.

Where does the money go?

The money goes to the most successful labels. Last year, the top 2% of music got 93% of streams (The rich are getting richer).

If $1000 was the revenue generated, the streaming provider takes $300, publishers and labels get a split of $600. Artists and songwriters are left with $100.

According to a story in theverge, Spotify paid Sony Music up to $42.5 million in advances. Now, how can Spotify regain the money? How can it make sure Sony’s music get enough streams? Are the algorithm used by Spotify to push music to its users transparent?

Established labels have used their leverage to enforce shady contracts with service providers like Spotify. Hence, restricting fans from discovering new tracks.

This is the problem eMusic wants to solve. But, what’s their strategy? Can they pull it off?

eMusic would start by onboarding independent artists. This will help fans discover new tracks. Hence, they won’t be listening to songs pushed by algorithms negotiated in gloomy contracts.

They plan to use the public blockchain, Ethereum. If engineered well, this can reduce costs. Savings accumulating by cutting down on infrastructure costs will be used to attract artists and labels.

Artists can use their platform to upload their work and control its distibution. They will choose their distribution partners. They can also use the platform’s store to sell their content immediately

The key feature is transparency, which service providers like Spotify don’t offer. All the transactions which happens through eMusic are recorded into an untamperable database. This feature is called immutability and it is one of the fundament principles behind blockchain.

These list of transactions are visible to the public. Hence, an artist would be able to see who used their music, price their content was bought for and their revenue split.

eMusic plans to give a 50/50 split on revenue. It would be split between the asset owner (artist/label) and the service provider where their content would be distributed.

eMusic is also developing a crowdfunding platform that would help the artist raise money to create new works through a crowdsale(SEC-registered). Hence, fans would be able to actively support their favourite artists and become part of their journey.

Another important benefit artists get from eMusic is immediate access to royality payments. Since the agreements are made on a smart contract, payments don’t require eMusic’s consent. As an when the transaction happens, the split is shared to the artist’s wallet almost immediately.


  1. eMusic’s infrastructure relies on Ethereum’s blockchain. The cost of writing and executing code on Ethereum is not fixed. It’s variable according to marketing conditions. However, eMusic plans to keep costly computations of-chain.
  2. eMusic brings a new layer of currency to the market in the form of tokens. Artists might want to be incentivized in USD, it could be a hassle for them to use it until cryptocurrency is widely accepted. If eMusic can incentivize artists in the currency they are convinent with, it shouldn’t be a problem.
  3. eMusic needs to go beyond independent artists and bring in big players to attract more users. This part could be challenging, since established players might still have the leverage. However, this is not an unsolvable problem.

However, unlike other ICOs, eMusic already got a profitable business

  1. eMusic started selling music in 1998, 5 years before iTunes.
  2. In 2008, they reached 250 million mp3 downloads and were only second to iTunes.
  3. In 2009, they started carrying major-label content.
  4. In the years 2014–2017, they have evolved by offering competitive services to its users.


The streaming model has changed the way people consume music. The new model has brought in complications and made it hard for artists to earn their living. However, people are not spending any less on music when compared to the previous years. A major chunk of revenue is eaten by the established players.

eMusic is trying to solve this problem, by incentivizing artists a fair revenue split. They plan to cut cost and bring in transparency by using Ethereum’s blockchain. But, they have certain technical and economical challenges to overcome.

Though there are other players in the market, eMusic has years of experience in the industry and already got a profitable business.

To learn more, please visit eMusic and read their whitepaper. We hope you to see you at our Telegram and Discord groups.

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