Cryptocurrencies could solve music streaming's money worries


The collapse of CD sales and the rise of streaming services mean the days of the stupidly rich rock star are behind us.

Sure, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, and Jay-Z aren't exactly short on cash, but a huge portion of their wealth comes from other revenue streams. For most, making a living from music requires endless touring and healthy merchandise sales.

But there's a new hope for wannabe music professionals, thanks to a new report published by the US-based Rethink Music initiative, which is being widely circulated within the music industry.

The report claims the music industry should explore the potential of the blockchain technology used in cryptocurrencies – blockchains are public records of all the transactions that have ever taken place in a currency – as a means of ensuring musos are fairly paid for streams and sales of their work.

Royalty treatment

This could bring more transparency to the debate around payments to musicians from streaming services, which could be a real headache for Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, etc.

The report states that if the music industry was to create a database of music rights ownership, it could then build a cryptocurrency system around it that could automatically pay royalties to artists.

A system such as this could also be useful to musicians, as it could ensure record labels and publishers don't hold on to royalties owed before passing them on – a practice that's been widely reported in the music industry.

Naturally, setting up a database such as this would be extremely time consuming – compiling every recording of every song ever written and a list of the associated rights holders is just as big a task as it sounds. Probably bigger.

But the sooner it happens, the sooner we can go back to the glory days, when stupidly rich bands wasted mountains of cash on their own signature brand of self destruction.