Music (and Revenue) For All

 

Throughout history, there have been numerous means for supporting musicians. Over the last century, there have also been endless middlemen taking a cut of profits, beginning with the mass adoption of record players in the nineteen-thirties. While mp3s were a curse for record sales, they were also a blessing in terms of artists spreading their music more broadly than ever before. Perhaps most importantly it forced musicians to take their business into their own hands rather than relying on those middlemen.

One of the most proactive artists in blockchain has been Imogen Heap (one of the first artists featured on RSong). She founded Mycelia, which is attempting to build a sustainable and fair-pay system for musicians. At a recent performance in Stockholm, 150 ticket holders now become stakeholders in Heap’s music. The show was recorded and will be for sale soon, with each fan receiving part of her royalties. As BBC reports,

The technology that makes this eye-catching giveaway possible is blockchain, a digital ledger that records transactions and information in a verifiable and permanent way. Blockchains have primarily been used to underpin cryptocurrencies like BitCoin and Ethereum, but they can also be used to create so-called ‘smart contracts’ to guarantee other agreements between two parties. Heap offered ticketholders the chance to sign up to be part of one such contract as part of an experiment she is conducting on the potential for blockchain in the music industry.

Blockchain will enable evolutionary breakthroughs for artists and fans in the near future. Heap is a trailblazer, but many others are certain to follow.

 

Crypto-what?

 

With all eyes on the Bitcoin Cash hard fork, check out this Forbes article that argues the need for separating cryptocurrency from blockchain. While the two are obviously connected, a more robust PR campaign explaining the technology underlying the digital currency would benefit the entire industry. As long as the popular imagination is focused on the fluctuating nature of the crypto market, mass adoption of blockchain will be challenging. That’s not stopping numerous industries from moving ahead, however. Add Christie’s and H&M as recent entrants into blockchain.

Yoav Vilner writes,

It is practically impossible to discuss Blockchain technology without a mention of its associations with cryptocurrency; hence, the first mention of Blockchain often evokes memories of Bitcoin and Silk Road. Nonetheless, Blockchain technology is fundamentally different from cryptocurrency. In fact, cryptocurrency is only of the many possible applications of Blockchain.

The sooner we highlight other applications, the quicker we’ll reach mass adoption. As long as the only association blockchain maintains is to crypto, such adoption is unlikely to occur.

 

Powering the Planet—Greenly

 

As Swytch co-founder and managing director, Evan Caron, told us about his company,

Our approach is business-to-city—we call it B2C—and also business-to-business. We partner with cities that have a desire to be more sustainable and more renewable and really understand the levels of renewable, sustainable targets, and make sure that they’re achievable. Then we work with corporations that generate energy from fossil fuels as well as multinational companies that have a mandate for sustainable investment strategies.

One of the most proactive and forward-thinking of RChain’s portfolio companies, Swytch’s recent update shows how busy the crew has been, including this fascinating pilot project in Puerto Rico:

Our previously announced partnership with Yale and the installation of renewable power supply and sensing devices at specific schools in Puerto Rico has expanded to include the early framework for in-system processes that can monitor and track end to end the amount in dollars of Kwh generated to the amount in dollars returned to capital providers. This ensures device level Kwh information is the catalyst for the disbursement of funds, bringing transparency and security to the information and data flow that underpins provable, sustainable investment where it matters the most.

 

Virtual Security

 

A recent NY Times deep dive into foul play at Facebook is just reiterating how important cybersecurity is. We generally pay little attention to our passwords and data. The internet has not yet been equipped with reliable safeguards to prevent hacking, data theft, or coercion from foreign agents. Blockchain is the forerunner in potential solutions.

As Roderick Jones, founder and chairman of RChain portfolio company, Rubica, has worked in cybersecurity for a long time. As he writes in a recent post,

Every day, cyber threats become more sophisticated and bigger, and closer to home. With the rise in corporate hacks, threats to our physical security, bad actors and fake news – now is the right time to secure your digital life.

Digital identity is one of the most pressing issues of our day. The need for a secure and scalable system to protect our data and identity is apparent. Take it seriously now so you’re not a victim in the future.

 

The Dangers of Economic Bigness

While Tim Wu is best known for coining the term “network neutrality,” the Columbia Law School professor has been a prolific writer and technology thinker. In The Attention Merchants, he warns of the dangers and benefits of technology being more integrated into the fabric of our being:

Over the coming century, the most vital human resource in need of conservation and protection is likely to be our own consciousness and mental space.

Wu is also an important social critic. In a recent article in the NY Times, he traces the historical link between booming economies and totalitarianism. Be wary of thinking, “it can’t happen here.” If history has taught us anything it should be humility—and caution, which Wu advocates for. The centralization of power and that of money go hand-in-hand. America’s economy might be “big” at the moment, but those it benefits remains relatively small and closed off to most. That should give us all pause.

It is a story that should sound uncomfortably familiar: An economic crisis yields widespread economic suffering, feeding an appetite for a nationalistic and extremist leader. The leader rides to power promising a return to national greatness, deliverance from economic suffering and the defeat of enemies foreign and domestic (including big business). Yet in reality, the leader seeks alliances with large enterprises and the great monopolies, so long as they obey him, for each has something the other wants: He gets their loyalty, and they avoid democratic accountability.