RAC, a Grammy-winning producer and DJ, just made history. His new album, Ego, is the first in the world to be released and available for sale via blockchain.
This means fans can pay him directly for the album using cryptocurrency and a smart contract, creating a digital receipt and transaction that cannot be corrupted or refuted.
Other artists, namely Imogen Heap, have used this approach before. But Heap released only a single, back in 2015, saying at the time she wanted to try something different. She thought about being a new artist in the digital age. “And I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if I could decide what I wanted to do with my music, who I wanted to have it for free, or not have it for free? Maybe I’d like people under 18 to have it for free, or people over 60 should have it for free,” she wrote. She couldn’t do that without trying something bold and different, like using a blockchain, in which the artist can set the parameters and conditions for how their music is sold and distributed.
The same is true for RAC, whose real name is André Allen Anjos. Upon the completion of his new album’s work last November, he began studying blockchain and cryptocurrency. He told Motherboard he fell down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos on the concept of blockchain. Now his new full-length album is available on that platform, in addition to more traditional avenues.
Musicians are very interested in blockchain because it provides them some opportunities traditional sales don’t. When a fan buys an album or a song via smart contract, the fan pays the musician instantly. All royalties are distributed instantly according to the terms the musicians agreed to as part of their recording and publishing contracts. Musicians also get a better idea of where their fans live, helping them better plot more successful tours.
For his release, Anjos teamed up with Ujo Music and posted “on a small ethereum subreddit for trading called ethtrader, just kind of reaching out to the community to see how I could get involved with music in that space,” he told Motherboard.
There’s one other, bigger reason musicians are interested in blockchain and selling music via cryptocurrency.
“The thing that gets people’s attention is when you tell them how you’re essentially cutting out middlemen,” Anjos said. “For a lot of people that’s exciting because they’re maybe tired of the 30% Apple takes (from musicians). Even Bandcamp and PayPal take a percentage. There’s all these people in the way. I don’t think this is going to replace Spotify or iTunes, but being able to support the artist directly is pretty important. I think when you approach people that way, they kind of get it, even if they don’t care about the decentralization and all the really interesting tech stuff behind it.”
He provides a full explanation of the unorthodox release on Motherboard and, if you have even a little interest in what many believe could be a revolutionary tool in the music industry, it’s well worth a read.