The music industry currently suffers many evils from labels and streaming services taking too much of a cut to fans getting lost in the sauce. Despite many turning their noses up at NFTs, Web3 could provide a solution to many of these downfalls and empower artists like never before.
Before we begin on Web3, let’s take a look into these said sufferings of the music industry.
Labels take too much of a cut. Record labels take from 50-80% of an artist’s revenue. In 2011, Trivium guitarist and vocalist Matt Heafy received a royalty cheque for 1.31 cents after his band’s album sold over 20,000 copies in its first week and topped billboards across the US. This is an experience that many musicians are familiar with.
There is also a lot of talk surrounding artist autonomy in the digital age but Web2 and streaming prevent it from happening. Sure, in the streaming era, many self-distribution service apps like Spotify and YouTube allow people to publish their songs without any label. Labels have lost both the production and distribution monopoly, but they still know best how to execute music marketing and finance projects. As a result, there are still many musicians who would prefer to sign contracts with labels and give away a large proportion of royalties.
Whereas in the traditional music industry, the power of determining artists’ success and the royalties are centralised in the hands of record labels. But with the maturity of Web3 infrastructures and technologies, we can see a paradigm shift of power from middlemen to musicians and fans.
There are plenty of cases where record labels help artists succeed in their careers. However, since record labels are still the gatekeepers of the music industry, they have the power to dictate who is a “good artist” with “good music”. This arises issues of misogyny, lack of diversity and simply churning out crappy art. If a bunch of old rich white men get to decide what’s good then we end up with a limited range of music artists. As a music artist myself I make these analogies often. Why does the US have many talented black male singers and yet the UK music industry limits black boys to ‘road-like’ rappers (where’s our Steve Lacy? Record labels is the answer.
As a Latina music artist myself, I don’t even have a blueprint because there is zero musical – or even media- representation for British Latinas and so I end up either being ignored or reduced to a stereotype.
This is where Web3 comes in.With the presence of Web3 and its permissionless and decentralisation functions, the music industry no longer needs to operate through a number of middlemen. Artists can now put their songs on platforms to seek fans who love their music and will back them. Fans can now become investors to back artists and earn profits in return. The fundraising process for artists to produce music is not monopolised by record labels anymore but decentralised to fans. This is also one of the ultimate goals that Corite, a Web3 crowdfunding and fan interaction platform, wants to achieve.
Corite provides two solutions for artists. They can raise money to create their music in Corite. If artists need marketing and promotion support, they can be supported by fans within Corite, and fans will promote the songs through different channels. Music has always been about fandom.
By taking away the middlemen, fans help artists leverage their fan power to the fullest by financing the music via Corite. The Web3 platform allows artists to distribute their music to different platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, TikTok, YouTube, etc. After that, Corite collects the money from royalties and splits it amongst everyone participating in the backing.
Most importantly, Web3 strengthens music ownership. The downside of Spotify and streaming platforms is that we longer feel that special moment spurred by holding a signed CD, vinyl or poster. Queuing up to get the Spice Girls to sign your CD made fans feel like a part of the art. Nowadays we discover someone’s single on a Discover Weekly playlist and unless they’re a label-churned out megastar the connection often stops there. NFTs and platforms like Corite allow fans to invest in the art they like as well as have a say in it. Kind of like Patreon but more art specific.
Media owned the power of dedicating which songs were “cool” decades ago. As media like radio and television determined the songs we listened to, and the agenda was set for the audience.
But now, Web3 has come. It’s all been about empowering the artists and the fans. People are being provided with the tools to create, distribute, raise awareness, build their brands, and share their art with the world. Fans can decide what music they want to listen to. This is exactly the beauty when music meets Web3.