Like religion and science, technology and art used to be two worlds that don’t have anything in common. But time after time, both artists and musicians, innovators and engineers proved that, when combined, two different things could make something special.
Blockchain, for Heap, “is the catalyst for change in the industry. It’s a new piece of technology, in the same way MP3 was. It’s a step in the right direction.”
What Sparked the Music and Blockchain Revolution
At an early age, award-winning recording artist Imogen Heap knows technology is the direction she wants to go towards. “I spent a lot of my time there hiding in a cupboard that had a computer in it – that was my first introduction to music and programming,” she said. Using her school’s recording studio, she recalled learning about electronic music, recording techniques, amplification, and the like. Then it all paid off when she bagged a record deal at the age of 17. Today, Heap is known as the other half of British electronic duo Frou Frou.
The British musician is on a mission to decentralize and democratize the music industry. After one Frou Frou album and four solo albums as well as her broad knowledge of the workings of the music industry, Heaps learned that transparency seems to be missing in the industry – a dilemma she feels technology is best fitted to resolve.
Heap told business-focused newspaper City A.M
Blockchain is completely enabling us to rethink the basic, core structure of how monetary distribution works in the industry. It can be used to build a united platform and create an ecosystem, but most importantly builds innovation under the standards that make sense for artists.
In 2015, the singer, songwriter, record producer and audio engineer founded her own blockchain-powered project dubbed Mycelia for Music, a “peer-to-peer verified digital identity standard which holds verified profile information, IDs, acknowledgements, works, business partners and payment mechanisms, sharing skills and projects to find our champions, fans and collaborators.” The platform aims to “empower a fair, sustainable and vibrant music industry ecosystem involving all online music interaction services.”
How Creative Can A Passport Be?
A major part of this blockchain platform is the Mycelia Creative Passport, which serves as a “digital identity” for a musician which will include their entire history of works, partnership and other information. Featuring a smart contracts template, it is designed to facilitate direct payments, simplify and democratise collaboration from significant commercial partnerships that spurs creativity in the music industry. The Passport will be available to musicians for free (businesses must pay to access some information).
“The real magic is the Internet of Agreements® is how do we integrate them into our daily lifestyle?” Imogen quipped.
The musician added:
Anything has to be easier than it is right now, indeed, today there is no shared database for songs, and as a result, there is no ecosystem there. We need to build that, and we will be able to do this thanks to blockchain technology where lots of people are now thinking in the same way, which means we are not dealing with the current issues all by ourselves.
Heap explained that for the first time, “the plight of musicians is suddenly interesting to people because there are technological solutions that work towards a better place for the future of the industry. Also, there is essentially money to be made in terms of innovation in music services.”
With the Creative Passport, the music startup targets to use blockchain in the future which they believe should enable them to create easier collaboration.
Our aim now is to start now with our Creative Passport, which together with music-makers, enables us to put a foot forward and create our home for the future so that we can integrate with blockchain and are not left behind.
What Does The Life Of A Song Tells?
The Creative Passport is not the only unique project Mycelia has going on. From its release in 2005, LOAS (Life of a Song) was created to analyze the economics of Imogen Heap’s song ‘Hide and Seek’ and examine its relationship with the wider music industry. In other words, it is a research the that breaks down the revenue streams for the song and looks at other factors including the impact of sync deals, remixes and samples.
Ultimately, the goal is to “explore and visualize how the current global music industry works through the lens of a song,” building a web application that will present three major segments: the biography, the revenue streams and the song’s breakdown.
As listed in the Mycelia website, Biography of a Song covers:
- Changes in technology since 2005
- Official and unofficial collaborations and remixes (Jason Derulo, Tiesto, Felon)
- Organizations and people involved
- Where the song was used and performed
Wherein the revenue streams of a song include the analysis of Imogen’s various income streams, its reach in the UK and overseas, as well as the income sources and categories. On the other hand, the breakdown of the song encompasses the copyright law and intellectual property, the Music Copyright, ownership and controls, including the licensing, contracts, and use cases breakdown and percentages.
The Hacker revolution, according to Heap, has made this opportunity to create and innovate possible with the idea that people can create outside the confines of a science lab fueling its mission.
“We don’t need to have a university behind us to make a pair of gloves. Technology has always filled in the gaps and where it doesn’t, I try to build things myself,” she explained. “That was really the main impetus, there wasn’t a pair of gloves out there that enabled me to interact with my software remotely, so I began working on them.”
Can The Mycelia Tour Make It?
What may seem as two very different things can clearly work together and create something more than just art and technology. In September 2018, Mycelia kicked off a tour that showcases its innovations. The one year-long Mycelia Tour started at the Music Tech Fest in Stockholm and will continue visiting a host of European cities including Barcelona, Copenhagen and Oslo, before moving on to Asia Pacific as well as to the North and South America in 2019.
The 40-city tour will consist of concerts, talks, workshops, an exhibition, and will be used as a platform to officially launch Mycelia’s ‘Creative Passport’. A number of innovation music tech companies including Streemliner, The WaveVR and MPRO Music will be there to support the tour.
Imogen summed up:
Other industries are talking about possibilities and innovation, so that is a very different story from what it was. The music industry can look at other sectors, such as banking and health, to move blockchain forward in terms of helping musicians and the industry.
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