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From Turntables to Web3: Charting the Future of Music

3 MINUTE READ | January 21, 2022

From Turntables to Web3: Charting the Future of Music

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Brent Aydon

Brent Aydon has written this article. More details coming soon.

Thanks to #10DaysofPMG, I am now the owner of a new Crosley record player. I’m excited to start adding to my record collection and start it off with one of the most recent albums from my favorite Texas artist, Leon Bridges.

Image of Leon Bridges vinyl record

As I talked with a colleague earlier this week about the record, he mentioned I should check out Discog. For those of you who are entry-level audiophiles like me, Discog started in 2000 as a crowdsourced database of information about music releases to become the most extensive online catalog of electronic music. It has since evolved into a database and marketplace for music from all genres. At the time of writing, it has a catalog of over 14 million recordings from seven million artists.

That got me thinking about the state of music streaming and the overlaps with Web3 technologies.

True music enthusiasts love to show off their collections and it is a critical piece to why the vinyl industry has seen a comeback in recent years despite the majority of music consumption going digital. As we know, during this stage, the end-user is granted ownership of their individual record, while the record company maintained ownership of the rights to the song.

On the other hand, streaming services solve a more complex problem: how to access audio from anywhere, on any device. Streaming services like Spotify, Soundcloud, and Pandora give music lovers the ability to access music from their favorite artists on any device, in almost any location with an internet connection. At this stage, the streaming service maintains ownership of the medium in which the user listens to the song, and the record company maintains ownership of the song itself.

Though they don’t offer the same appeal as a physical vinyl collection does for your local record store hipster, Web3 entrants such as AudiusRocki, and Catalog do offer something that traditional streaming services do not: ownership.

Each of these platforms is looking to fundamentally change the musician-to-fan relationship by giving listeners the ability to contribute directly to the financial success of their favorite artist. Artists often lament how little they make from music streaming royalties. Spotify, for example, pays $0.00437 per stream, meaning a musician needs 229 streams to earn $1. 

Screenshot of NFT from musical artist Oshi on the Zora platform

The preview above shows an NFT from musical artist Oshi on the Zora platform. While Zora technically lets listeners like myself access the music, access is limited to one song at a time, since, at its core, Zora is an NFT marketplace. On the other hand, a platform like Catalog allows listeners to listen to the same song while accessing a library of music from other trending artists. From there, I could also purchase a song if I wanted to add it to my own personal collection in a seamless user experience.

Catalog Main Homepage

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It’s clear that this concept could fundamentally change how listeners interact with their favorite artists. What remains is mainstream adoption. Currently, the majority of artists tapping into Web3 streaming platforms look to be EDM producers and a number of tech-savvy recording artists who are testing the waters of what this technology can provide them. Only time will tell, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Spotify or other platforms in the music industry add some form of token or NFT compatibility this year as Web3 streaming platforms acquire market space.

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