The Internet has long been hailed as the best thing that happened since penicillin. But long after the hype from the initial rollout wore out, it’s becoming apparent the digital domain is far from being a universal cure. And this is especially true in the music sector.
From singers and songwriters having a huge chunk of their earnings taken by music streaming to guitar players not being able to monetize their videos on YouTube or flat-out sharing their original backing tracks and tablatures for free on popular guitar forums — content creators are getting the short end of the stick.
This is where BitChord looks to innovate. Their platform is based on the Ethereum blockchain and provides an avenue for guitar players to publish their work for users to view, buy and share, and make 100% of the revenue. It runs on its own BCD Token, which will be used to transact as well as reward guitar players for uploading, hosting and sharing quality original content.
At its core, the BitChord platform will solve 5 problems that guitar players are facing today:
1. The lack of a decentralized hub for guitar players that is a default for music fans, thanks to the erosion of MySpace Music. Facebook was once viewed as a replacement for MySpace Music, but never materialized as such. What’s even worse, Facebook charges artists to reach their own fans, a move it defends as necessary given massive increases in Timeline posts that are overwhelming users. Meanwhile, YouTube, effectively the largest online platform for music distribution, remains notorious for low-paying, ad-based royalties with little signs of improvement. In fact, YouTube has fought aggressively to maintain its free tier, while shunning industry attempts to better control content and pay more to content owners.
2. An increase in free gigs and online giveaways in an attempt to increase publicity or simply ‘get your foot through the door’. Guitar players are increasingly playing free shows, in the hopes of getting paid work down the line. According to a recently released report from the UK-based Musicians’ Union, more than 60 percent of artists have played at least one free gig in the last year. Guitar forums are littered with sections, where they can share their original backing tracks, lyrics and other work for free.
3. A disproportionate amount of time spent on social media to no avail. Most guitar players are overwhelmed with tasks that go far beyond making music. That includes everything from Tweeting to fans, updating Facebook pages, managing metadata, uploading content, interpreting analytics, managing Kickstarter campaigns, figuring out online sales strategies all while working a 9-to-5 job to make ends meet. The average musician is underemployed. According to a musician survey conducted by the Future of Music Coalition (FMC), just 42 percent of musicians are working full-time in music. Musician salaries remain low.
4. Distribution channels for original content remain a key problem. A large portion of the creators’ earnings are being withheld by the platforms that host the content. Also there is limited artist visibility. The leading streaming music companies — YouTube, Spotify, SoundCloud, Amazon Music, iTunes, and others — have been routinely accused of treating artists poorly through duplicitous contract structures and low payments. All of that has created a low-trust environment. Compounding the problem is the fact that streaming services like Spotify offer very little reliable guidance on their payout structures.
5. Lack of quality control, which affects everyone in the sector. Initially, everyone was excited about the fact that there are no limits to posting content online, it’s become clear that the end result is a sea of mediocre (and downright awful) content in terms of video and audio quality. Everyone’s a guitar player/songwriter/singer/artist these days and everyone gets likes and upvotes in a culture based on ‘positivity’ and ‘encouragement’. But what that has done is essentially make everyone an’ artist’ and no one — a ‘user’. People have simply stopped paying for content because there’s too much of it for free and because the overall quality has dropped significantly.
Those and many other less significant factors contributed to the result of the endgame — those artists who had dreams of earning big by selling their music and content on the internet had to scale down their expectations to more realistic goals. How about earning a decent average wage? Turns out that’s not realistic either. How about earning minimum wage — that should be fairly easy, right? After all, it takes almost no skill to start flipping burgers at a major fast food company, while learning to play an instrument, learning at least some songwriting, composition, computer music recording and production — realistically, takes a minimum of a few years of hard work no different than obtaining a college degree. Unfortunately, statistics show that artists earning even minimum wage selling their music related content online is becoming the exception not the rule.
Is There a Way Out?
Although still relatively new, blockchain has already made profound changes across the sectors of finance and e-commerce. Now, it’s time to explore how it can remake the digital landscape of the music industry in a way that benefits both guitar players and users.
This is why BitChord looks to merge new technology with the existing models to create something that brings value to those involved. On the BitChord platform guitar players have full control over how they engage and transact with audiences. They can create, host, share and sell their original content and take all the profit for their work with zero fees. Additionally, they get to take advantage of an affiliate marketing program that sees them earning a commission on all sales on music equipment and instruments retailer sites made through their profiles on BitChord. They can basically monetize their entire presence on BitChord and not have ads pulled from any videos like YouTube.
By enabling direct artist-to-consumer engagement and commerce, BitChord not only eliminates intermediaries and makes the process of getting paid for playing guitar possible, but strengthens the traditional music industry by making it more efficient and transparent for guitar players as well.
On the BitChord platform, guitar players have complete control. If they decide to share their content, they upload the file and it is published over a peer-to-peer network. People can browse the hosted files to find content to their liking, and head to the BitChord marketplace to purchase it or tip the player with BCD tokens. No amount is withheld either from the user or the guitar player for transactions on the platform — something, which makes BitChord stand out from both traditional platforms and a few new blockchain-based systems.
Another nifty feature of BitChord is the Affiliate Marketing Program. This feature allows users to only receive ads that are based on the content they are viewing, sharing and buying. This means they will get recommendations from major musical instruments and equipment retailers for gear that their favourite guitar players are using to accomplish that sound and video quality. What’s even more — these will be exclusive discounted offers available only for users referred through the BitChord platform. Guitar players, on the other hand, will earn a commission on every referral made through their profile.
BitChord is launching an ICO in March, and the tokens that will be issued will be the best way to interact with the platform. The team is currently in talks with major exchanges about listing the tokens as well as in the process of on-boarding music equipment retailers. The planned supply of BitChord tokens is capped at 110,000,000 with 67,100,000 made available to the public.
We’re looking forward to bringing about a positive change in the music sector for the people doing all the hard work and getting next to nothing for their time and efforts. Let’s make this one count!