The music industry has been dominated by big record labels for decades. They have the power to turn an emerging artist into a pop culture sensation. This golden ticket to wealth and fame unfortunately comes with many strings attached, and the music industry has developed a reputation for sucking the soul out of art in order to increase profits. With evolving technology, artists are empowered to cut out the middleman and take ownership of their career.
A new movement is taking place in the world of music and art. It’s a movement around a decentralized crypto currency called bitcoin. Bitcoin is a peer to peer technology that can provide near instant transactions of value or information. While the technology is still relatively new to the mainstream, many artists have already incorporated bitcoin into their funding and distribution models.
The first and most simple way for an artist to raise funds with bitcoin, is to provide a bitcoin tipping address on all of their online content. This allows the audience to digitally send small amounts of money without the expensive processing fees associated with credit cards and programs like PayPal.
The Jitterbug Vipers are the first band in Austin, Texas, the live music capitol of the world, known to accept bitcoin and promote it on stage. They have a bitcoin QR code printed and attached to their tip bucket and posted on their facebook page. Other area artists, like San Antonio Violinist, Sarah Stollak, find ways to attach their bitcoin tipping address onto their instrument itself.
Some music groups have been formed specifically around bitcoin. Zhou Tong covers popular tunes with the lyrics changed to bitcoin themes. Fans who visit the Zhou Ton Youtube channel will find the very first (and often the only) text in the description is their bitcoin tipping address. They use a different bitcoin address for each song so they can track which ones are the most appreciated by the fans. The bitcoin blockchain, or public ledger, reveals that Zhou Tong songs bring in anywhere from 0.01 btc (around $2 at current prices) to well over 3 btc (around $700 at current prices).
Tatiana Moroz, a visionary musician known for her politically charged and bitcoin-centric music, became an instant sensation on the international bitcoin conference circuit after releasing her demo of the Bitcoin Jingle on Youtube. As she became more deeply involved in the crypto space, Tatiana developed and launched TatianaCoin, a bitcoin based crowdfunding token.
Tatiana used the money raised through her first crowd sale of TatianaCoin to record her third album tentatively called, Keep the Faith, which is expected to be released this spring. You can listen to a sneak peak of her new album on YouTube; The Silk Road is a tribute song to Ross Ulbricht who was recently convicted of several felonies related to running and operating the Silk Road, an online bitcoin black marketplace.
Tatiana has a unique perspective on the role of crypto currency in the arts. While most of the attention is given to bitcoin tipping, Tatiana thinks artist coins will be the crowdfunding tool of the future. Her TatianaCoin sales out-fundraised her bitcoin tips dramatically, allowing her to self-fund her entire third album.
The technology is new, though, and she has faced obstacles. The drop in bitcoin prices reduced her buying power after her initial crowd sale funds came in. The front end of the CounterParty platform she used to build her coin requires multiple steps to actually acquire TatianaCoin, which left many of her pre-bitcoin fans confused about how to contribute. Also, the ease of utility for the coin has been an issue. She has been working directly with developers to resolve this as technology advances, which will eventually allow her to create things like an online storefront that accepts her crypto coin.
Tatiana is still fundraising for the marketing portion of her album launch, so those intrigued by this new concept can support her innovative use of crypto currency by visiting TatianaCoin.com.
As bitcoin based technology expands into all forms of online media, artists will have the chance to be on the cutting edge. For example, a new bitcoin micropayment video hosting website called WatchMyBit just finished beta tests. The website looks and functions like YouTube, except instead of advertisements on the videos, you are prompted to make a small contribution in bitcoin, 95% of which goes straight to the artist. This new site is just a sample of what is to come from these new bitcoin based technologies.
Bitcoin allows artists to truly work for themselves while cutting out the middleman. No longer will credit cards, indiegogo, or paypal eat up the monetary support for their art. As technology continues to evolve, the Music Industrial Complex will be forced to compete with independent and empowered bitcoin fueled artists, and it has been a long time coming.
About the author
Catherine Bleish, MPA (@TheBitMom) writes about bitcoin an unschooling for publications like Bitcoin Magazine, Money and Tech, and The Liberty Beat. You can follow her journey toward a more voluntary and natural life through the Sovereign Living blog or the SovereignLiving.tv reality show. Catherine received her Master's Degree in Public Affairs in 2011. Follow her family's bitcoin travel adventures at www.uncoinventional.com.
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