Grammy winner RAC is the latest recording artist to discover the blockchain. The Portuguese DJ revealed last week he would sell his next album on Ethereum — though past experiments have faltered.
Also read: Bitcoin’s 21M Limit Means It Can’t Be a Currency: China Central Bank Adviser
RAC’s (real name André Allen Anjos) will release his fifth LP titled EGO on 14th July 2017.
Motherboard reported that the album files themselves will be hosted on distributed storage network IPFS (interplanetary file storage protocol). Buyers pay to download them using Ethereum smart contracts.
RAC reportedly spent a lot of time researching blockchain and cryptocurrencies since he finished recording EGO last November. Further proving that token value drives most of cryptocurrency’s mainstream appeal, RAC told Motherboard:
“When the price of ether started to go up I looked more into it. That’s when the lightbulbs went off and I was like, ‘oh wow, this is legit.'”
RAC will sell the album via Ujo Music. Ujo is a subsidiary of Ethereum development company Consensys, and encourages artists to sell and distribute their music via smart contracts and distributed storage.
RAC called his Ethereum release more a “proof of concept”. He’s also selling the album in vinyl and via other major online music services.
Buyers will also need to use ETH to purchase the album from Ujo Music. In the long run, Ujo’s idea is to have smart contracts pay royalties to artists automatically — but that process doesn’t exist yet.
Does Blockchain Offer Anything Useful to Artists?
You can find plenty of articles online claiming “blockchain” will benefit artists. There are fewer with specifics on how. Will it help them cut out middlemen and labels in ways they currently can’t? Will it solve rights management and copyright issues?
A few have waded in the shallows, with mixed results.
British musician Imogen Heap experimented by selling her single “Tiny Human” via Ethereum in 2015, also through Ujo. At the time she touted blockchain’s potential to connect artists directly with fans and guarantee their money went directly to the artist.
However, despite the widespread attention Heap received at the time, the single recorded only $133.20 USD in sales via Ethereum. In his book “Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain”, author David Gerard called the whole incident a “disaster” and criticized Ujo for its convoluted purchase process. This involved clicking a download link, creating a wallet, purchasing bitcoin, exchanging it for ether, and then buying the music.
Hopefully Ujo has streamlined the process since then — or if not, there are far more ETH-owning music fans nowadays.
Just Accept Bitcoin, That Works Well
Hip-hop artist Nas praised Bitcoin’s investment and disruptive potential in 2014. That same year he partnered with Coinbase to raise BTC funds for the charity Watsi.org. However it’s unclear whether Nas’ interest in Bitcoin was personal or part of a Coinbase promotion. He hasn’t talked about Bitcoin much since, and as of 2017 his Coinbase page no longer exists.
So it’ll be interesting to see how RAC’s album does. Can blockchain offer artists anything new or profitable, or is it a gimmick? Should they just keep their savings in BTC or something else?
Tell us if you see any potential for blockchain and music in the comments.
Images via RAC, Ujo Music