Blockchain and NFTs need to become far easier to understand and use before they will benefit "average" musicians. Right now NFTs seem to be the domain of tech-savvy digital "art" speculators. It has been all talk for years, but no real progress, for musicians (not counting a couple of superstars who cashed in. No doubt, with a team of people setting it up for them.)

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Jan 2, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

First of all there are some really good insights here, especially about artists and the lack of accountability in getting any royalties- the thing that Im still baffled about is how this is any different than someone selling royalty percentages - or is it simply that the percentage will now come in the form of a 'coin'?

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I’ll readily admit that I don’t understand anything about NFTs or blockchains.

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"Why are the wrong people always getting paid in this world?" Dale Turner, 'Round Midnight.'

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Nice ideas and thank you for quoting my report! Good luck!

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Jan 4, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

I’d be nervous if I were a musician whose death would be financially rewarding to investors.

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Jan 4, 2022·edited Jan 4, 2022

Are these meant to be positive outcomes? Maybe you need to expose yourself to some crypto criticism. Stephen Diehl has some good articles on the problems with crypto - https://www.stephendiehl.com/blog.html.

Bitcoin consumed 140 TWH of electricity last year. 140,000,000,000,000 watt hours. A bitcoin transaction produces the same amount of carbon as going on a transatlantic flight. Musicians deserve to be paid. But it's not technology that's interfering with that, it's people. Turning fans into Amway salespeople pushing an environment-devouring technology is a terrible solution to the problem.

Besides, the fans might not have time to sell the token for their favourite artist because they'll be busy pushing the tokens for their favourite newsletters, podcasts, tv shows, movies, books, graphic novels, health insurance, soft drinks, fast food outlets, medications, and every other product category that is jumping on this gold rush bandwagon without a care for the consequences as long as they can get theirs and get out.

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Here's a good thread from twitter with a short history of cryptocurrencies: https://twitter.com/davetroy/status/1478017698676228099

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This is one of the more astute analyses I've seen. However, I have to take issue with two points.

1. "I am far more excited about the populist uses of blockchain to strengthen the relationship between musicians and a large audience. Tokenization of albums and songs are an effective way of doing this. Perhaps even momentous in their impact."

Uh, no. I lost count of the number of times the same thing was said about every technology that came out since the Internet first hit. The Internet itself was going to strengthen the relationship between musicians and fans. No, wait, peer-to-peer was going to do it. No, hold on, crowdfunding is really it this time. Remember Kevin Kelley's "1000 True Fans"? That was surely going to be the solution for everybody.

All I see here is the usual case of people projecting their naive assumptions about this new gewgaw. Wherever you have complex technology (and hoo boy is this stuff complex) you have intermediaries to make it easier. They just may be different intermediaries than the previous bunch. E.g., the intermediaries that hold the power now are arguably not labels anymore but Spotify, Apple, and Google.

I already see this happening. I'm looking at NFT opportunities for a content owner (not in the music space) and I see startups sprouting like mushrooms after a rainstorm offering to make the NFT process easier for buyers and sellers alike, for a mere X% of your revenue, where X is not a small number. Soon all those startups will die or consolidate or be acquired by bigger fish, and there you have it.

2. "You can imagine many variations on this theme, some of them quite strange. Tokens could empower each owner to sell either an infinite or a limited number of copies—or the number could vary based on some other factor (e.g., total sales, thus creating enhanced token value for hit records). And some resale rights might get passed on to those further down the pyramid."

No. The number of people who will actually want to bother with stuff like this is vanishingly small. This type of scheme--powered by the intermediaries (see above) that make it comprehensible to regular people--may increase the number by epsilon, but that's about it. Remember micropayments? People were going to pay 15 cents to stream a song or 8 cents to view a newspaper article? The phone company (which is also your ISP) is going to handle the billing? Me neither. The technology became cost-efficient enough to make such a thing profitable, but the model that won out was $10/month for all-you-can eat music or NY Times or whatever.

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NFTs focus on profit by selling your stake to someone down the line. For 99% of the artists that stake is not worth much at all because the real problem is the size of their audience.

Having fans support an artist because they can get a financial gain, seems to go directly against the soul of music itself. It is to be enjoyed and create a relationship between the artists, fan and their environment.

Why not focus on a non-monetary reward between artists and fans in stead? Get the artist and fan closer in stead of putting a pyramid scheme in between them.

This is the approach I am working on myself. Would love to discuss with anyone interested.

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