Over the last few decades, not much has changed in the music industry with respect to revenue generation. Artists are still paid royalties based off of the number of albums sold or, as of recently, the number of times it is played on online platforms like SoundCloud and Spotify.
However, due to rampant piracy, improper copyright protocols, and the proliferation of unofficial sources of music; the industry is in a bit of a financial crisis. Artists have been outspoken about this alarming trend and are largely bearing the brunt of this revenue leakage. Most of them get paid less than a cent per play, even if the song is streamed from an official page or channel. This gets even worse with websites like YouTube, where unauthorized singles can legally be broadcast from unofficial sources, leaving artists regrettably unpaid for their hard work.
All this stems from the fact that .mp3 and AAC files are extremely easy to manipulate and can be altered to completely remove the artist and label metadata from the track. This altered track can then be streamed from an unofficial channel in perpetuity with no way to index or flag the offending file.
However, this may change if the founders of dotBlockchain have their way. The company aims to implement blockchain technology in music, thereby creating a new, virtually unhackable file format. Blockchain is the decentralized public ledger on which the online cryptocurrency Bitcoin runs which essentially allows everyone in the chain to see real time transactions.
Thus by implementing this technology in music, the company–and others like it–aim to essentially hardwire the artist and other important metadata into the track itself, ensuring the funds generated per play go into the right pockets, irrespective of which page or site the song is played from. Another interesting application of this could potentially be in DJ sets, where funds can be distributed based on the number of times a performer plays a certain track during their live shows.
This blockchain application may completely revolutionize the music industry and intellectual property law, making copyright violations a thing of the past. All that remains to be seen is if the disruptive technology will catch on.