Blockchain technology is the bridge to humanity’s decentralized future. To many, this future is one where power is pushed to the individual. Markets become truly global. Data is owned by the user.
The keystone of this bridge is the humble blockchain node. Collectively, nodes are re-shaping industries. They are the backbone of Bitcoin’s provably secure monetary system. They are the source of truth that all crypto users rely on.
Nodes have transformed the world of modern finance. It was the first industry to be disrupted by this new technology. The birth of DeFi is a direct result. This cone of progress is expanding to many other areas.
The music industry is no exception. Audius is changing how creators create, distribute and monetize their work.
In this post, we’ll explore:
- How the creative industry changed over time
- Blockchain nodes: creating a ‘fully-networked’ creative industry
- Audius: A fully-decentralized platform for musicians
How The Creative Industry Changed Over Time
The creative industry has changed radically over time. To understand its trajectory, it helps to look briefly at its past. We can identify four epochs:
- Early Patronage
Before the dawn of technology, the creative industry operated in a patronage model. Writers, musicians, authors and others relied on wealthy patrons to fund their work. Artistic patronage during the time of the Renaissance helped maintain social status in a highly hierarchical society. The creators and the consumers of art were tightly linked.
- Technological Revolution
Technology was the leverage for creative endeavours. Energy amplified art to reach mass audiences for the first time. It decoupled the artistic input from the scale it could reach. No longer would a person need to be in an audience to enjoy a piece of music, for example.
For writers, the Gutenberg printing press ushered in the Printing Revolution. The film industry was transformed by the Cinématographe. Equivalent breakthroughs in technology were applied to other creative fields, such as music.
Technology improved availability, while increasing complexity. Early breakthrough technology was often highly permissioned. Tasks became more specialized. The ability of one person to control the entire creative process diminished.
The means of distribution remained hierarchical, controlled by film studios, record labels and publishing houses.
However, the fragmenting of creative tasks into complex sub-components had begun. This growing complexity splintered hierarchies.
- A Hybrid Industry
Today, many creators operate in a hybrid industry. This industry is facilitated by the internet. Technology for creatives is radically permissionless and accessible. However, coordination typically takes place through centralized platforms.
Peer-to-peer (P2P) was an early model which many hoped would revolutionize the creative industry. It was decentralized and programmable. Individual computer nodes could communicate point-to-point to share media.
Peer-to-peer networks distributed creative content in a permissionless way. However, P2P was not without its disadvantages. The permissionless nature of this technology led to copyright and other legal issues. These decentralized hubs also had a low ability for creators to monetize.
The model-view-controller (MVC) became the dominant paradigm for the creative industry. Services such as social networking or search engines become extremely inefficient when pinging every other node.
This was the case with P2P. This inefficiency gave rise to centralized hubs. Such hubs helped exchange data like photos, music and video much more efficiently. These centralized hubs have a global state and a high ability to monetize.
The creative industry is therefore a hybrid industry. The means of artistic production are increasingly permissionless. The creative platforms, however, are not. Creators work laterally between content platforms.
Blockchain Nodes: Creating a ‘Fully Networked’ Creative Industry
A fully networked industry is one without central control.
Blockchain nodes are the backbone of these fully networked industries. They are the set of computers that contribute their resources to achieve a common goal. For Bitcoin, nodes prove the decentralized transaction ledger. The strength of this system is why millions trust Bitcoin to be ‘digital gold’.
The creative industry will increasingly rely on blockchain nodes as a robust foundation for artistic creation and distribution. Unlike P2P nodes, blockchain is the central backbone on which this new paradigm will run. Some refer to this as the client-blockchain-client model. This model opens new dimensions for how creators distribute, monetize and secure their content.
We already see the creatives making inroads in this direction.
Audius: A Fully-Networked Platform for Musicians
Audius is a digital streaming service that connects fans directly with artists and exclusive new music. It does this by being fully decentralized: Audius is owned and run by a vibrant, open-source community of artists, fans, and developers all around the world. . According to its whitepaper, the music industry generates $43bn in revenue, yet only 12% goes to artists. Audius is building a flourishing, decentralized platform to support musicians and listeners alike.
The relationship between musicians and fans is supported through blockchain nodes.
Content nodes maintain availability of musical content and metadata in Audius. The music itself is stored on AudSP, an extension of IPFS. By leveraging IPFS, AudSP is a highly available, independently verifiable and decentralized file sharing system. Content hosting is incentivized through a stake-based incentive structure.
Content nodes can be operated by the musician themselves to host their music. By running their own self-hosted Content node, artists can tightly or loosely control who accesses their music.
Musicians can choose not to host their own content node. In this case, Audius will automatically select a set of nodes to maintain content availability on their behalf.
Discovery nodes let fans discover content. They index the metadata supplied by musicians and fans. Discovery nodes allow anyone to search the discography of Audius music.
Content permissioning is a key hallmark of Content nodes. It gives artists a high degree of control over how their work is monetized. For example, listeners can unlock content depending on a condition being met.
A listener’s client simply makes a request to an artist’s elected content nodes to access content. This is managed seamlessly by the Audius platform.
Blockdaemon: Supporting Audius Node Infrastructure
Art is ubiquitous in society. Technology has revolutionized how it is created, distributed and consumed. From the walled-gardens of the patronage model to the on-demand content we enjoy today, we have seen radical changes. Blockchain represents the next evolution of this industry.
Blockdaemon supports Audius nodes. By running a node on this platform, you are contributing to its success while being rewarded. Whether you are a musician or content creator, this blockchain is moving the needle towards a networked industry.