Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve surely come across an article or two about cryptocurrencies or the blockchain. Even if you don’t know anything about the technology, the Internet is bombarded with guides and articles on cryptos. The blockchain is mainly associated with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. However, what most people don’t know is that it has the potential to do much more.
You see, the blockchain is more than just ‘space’ where cryptos exist. As a matter of fact, it’s a promising technology that can change how many industries work. The blockchain is built on trust and safety and can reshape industries as we know them. It is already improving many of them, especially certain media and entertainment spaces.
While it’s still a young and emerging technology, blockchain offers exciting developments in the future. We’re not just talking about cryptos that are just to blow the financial lid open. The blockchain can be used in many different ways for the betterment of the world. It can disrupt the ways content is produced and consumed, and that’s what the media and entertainment sectors have been looking for. With dwindling numbers and faltering revenue, it might be the savior these industries have waited for so long.
What Is Blockchain?
The blockchain is a sort of distributed database/ledger that stores various information in the simplest terms. Most commonly, it is used to record and verify crypto transactions. This ledger is shared among nodes of a computer network. It is completely decentralized and doesn’t depend on any governing body.
That’s why it’s perfect for Bitcoin. It maintains a secure and decentralized record of transactions online. It also guarantees the safety of that data and generates trust without the need for third parties.
Now some of you might say, “Well, that’s almost the same as a database.” What differs is the way the data is structured. The blockchain stores data in groups known as blocks – those are the same blocks used in crypto mining. These blocks are interlinked with each other. They have a certain storage capacity and are closed and linked with the previous block. Hence the name ‘blockchain.’
Thanks to the blocks being strung together, all data on the blockchain is irreversible. Whenever filled with data, the block becomes part of the timeline. It can’t be altered in any way, so all transactions made on the blockchain are permanently recorded and can be viewed by anyone.
The blockchain’s goal is to allow easy record and distribution of data. Without the meddling of third parties, of course. This makes it a fantastic addition to the media and entertainment industry which could change forever.
What Are Cryptocurrencies?
As mentioned earlier, the blockchain is currently known and used to record and store cryptocurrency records. For those unaware, cryptocurrencies are digital financial tokens with a decentralized nature. They are not tied into any bank or governing body, and this decentralized nature gives them immeasurable value. Of course, it’s also behind Bitcoin’s volatility, which makes them risky for investment.
The most popular cryptocurrencies at the moment are:
- Binance Coin
Ten years ago or so, the crypto market only had Bitcoin. Ethereum jumped in much later, and so did all the others. What started as a bubble that experts believed would soon burst grew into an industry of its own. Bitcoin and Ethereum are recording all-time highs, and so are many other altcoins. And, while the blockchain is mostly associated with these, it has numerous other functionalities.
What Functionalities Does the Blockchain Have Other Than Storing Data?
There are numerous blockchain applications beyond the famous recording of crypto transactions. At the moment, the blockchain is also used for:
- NFT marketplaces
- Online gambling
- Original content creation
- Cross-border payments
- Secure sharing of medical data
- Real estate processing platform
- Advertising insights
- Voting mechanisms
- Personal identity security
- Real-time IoT systems
- Logistics and supply chain monitoring
- Tracking of music royalties
The last one is proof of how the blockchain can improve the media and entertainment sector. It’s already pretty deep in the online gaming sector. Many casinos have jumped on the cryptocurrency train by opting for Bitcoin and Ethereum transactions. Some casinos accept other cryptos, too, which players love thanks to the fast deposits and withdrawals. It helps that the transaction fees are pretty low compared to what banks may take from you.
Playing online blackjack or slots online with cryptocurrencies is simple and easy. You can make a deposit in seconds and start playing before you know it. Getting winnings right away is something that not even the fastest e-wallets offer. That’s one of the many real-world applications of the blockchain – secure and fast transactions at online merchants and casinos.
NFT marketplaces are also important when it comes to implementing the blockchain in the media and entertainment industries. For those unaware, NFT stands short for non-fungible tokens. In the past few months, they’ve exploded in popularity, with many celebrities and athletes releasing their unique moments as NFTs.
Some have gone even further. Take Canada’s The Weeknd, who released an NFT song earlier this year before moving on to more complex pieces of art. He was one of the first to do so, with the rock band Kings of Leon following his example by releasing a new record as an NFT.
That’s just the beginning of the deep implementation of the blockchain in the media and entertainment industries. As time passes, you can expect more NFT records and singles for the blockchain to enter deeper into this territory.
How the Blockchain Can Transform the Media and Entertainment Industry
One of the greatest issues for the media and entertainment industry in the past years is ownership and rights management. Tracking which content belongs to which author is timely and awkward. There have been numerous publicly reported payment disputes and lawsuits over copyright management and other problems. To put it simply, neither the author nor label win in this case.
Distributed ledger technology can help solve these problems. It has a very practical application when it comes to accounting ownership and bringing profits to both creators and investors. In many cases, labels and studios have held out on payments for a long time, leaving artists with no income for months or even years. That’s where most lawsuits in the media and entertainment industry lie. This will keep going on until the industry makes a change. Blockchain tech can easily track intellectual property rights, putting an end to the long-running issue.
And yes, the technology may still be young, but it’s a very practical solution to the entertainment industry. It won’t just help with copyright infringement. It will also deter ad frauds and redesign the dying industry from the ground up.
Practical Applications of the Blockchain in the Entertainment Industry
No Content Aggregation
The elimination of content aggregation is one of those under-the-radar benefits of the entertainment industry adopting blockchain tech. Thanks to its decentralized nature, artists (writers, musicians, performance artists) can directly distribute their work to consumers. This means bypassing traditional distribution channels and providing a larger revenue for creators – just like things should be.
It will help artists create a direct relationship with their fans. Of course, it might spell the end for record labels and similar organizations, but it could give a voice to artists that couldn’t break through the mainstream.
Since it can track music use with ease, the blockchain will help different kinds of artists to have better oversight of their copyright material. Do you know how pirates steal royalties via torrents and other illegal peer-to-peer networks? With the blockchain, it could be a thing of the past. File sharing will essentially become a legit practice that can be controlled, and more importantly, monetized.
Whenever a file is shared on the blockchain, the artist will receive a small fee. It’ll create an additional legit revenue stream for content creators and help them survive in these tough market conditions.
Proper Royalty Distribution
With growing revenue from music streaming services, proper loyalty distribution has become a dream for artists. One that never comes alive, unfortunately. That can be solved with blockchain tech. Collection and distribution of royalties can become much easier, and thanks to the blockchain’s verification, disputes will be easier to solve.
It’s all thanks to the smart contracts functionality. It will add precision, trust, and speed to the process of executing terms. Eligible parties will surely get what they must whenever a song is streamed, or a TV show played on any platform. The blockchain will allow greater transparency of royalty distribution. It will disrupt the need for copyright collection associations to the delight of artists and bring back rightfully earned money in their pockets.
In the current media and entertainment industry, artists are missing out on lucrative opportunities. While many pay a full subscription to services, some pay a smaller fee to read a single article or listen to one song. That could all change with the introduction of micropayments via the blockchain.
It will open up the possibility of pay-per-use services. The blockchain can keep a detailed record of the data stored on it. Thanks to this, it allows for accurate tracking of the consumption of copyrighted content. With micropayments, the execution could be automated and much more cost-effective than currently.
It will change the industry drastically, helping artists get a fair portion of subscriptions.
According to estimates, IP infringement, fraudulent copies, and digital piracy cost the US music industry around $71 billion every year. That’s billion, not million. It’s a massive load of money that goes unaccounted for, and it can be solved via the blockchain.
Ethereum, for example, allows artists and creators to digitize the metadata of their unique content. It will then store it and the IP rights on a time-stamped ledger that can’t be altered. Thanks to the append structure of the blockchain, creators can easily and legally enforce rights in infringement cases. They also would lose money over piracy, which the media and entertainment industry has been fighting against for decades.
Everyone in Hollywood is looking for the next best thing when it comes to security. Data leaks are not uncommon in the media and entertainment industries. As a matter of fact, they happen pretty often. The blockchain could mitigate such risks thanks to employing useful and impermeable techniques that will keep media safe on the web.
Cryptography and sequential hashing are the two big features of the blockchain that make it 100% safe. Implementing it in the entertainment industry and its decentralized nature will mean much higher security and no leaks. Artists would benefit from it, too, since their works won’t be leaked online to torrenting pirates.
Preparing for Blockchain Implementation
While we haven’t seen it in action yet, the blockchain could solve many woes in the entertainment industry. Of course, it won’t be implemented overnight. This is still a whole new technology that needs to be analyzed before being implemented. Media experts are working on that right now, and as soon as they see it as a viable technology, the media and entertainment industry will benefit from it.
Before that happens, the industry needs to prepare. This industry is based on contracts where intellectual property comes at a premium price. The blockchain can raise the profits for everyone involved, but only if implemented and used correctly. It’s still a young technology with challenges of its own, but once it overcomes them and matures, it could be a fantastic solution to many of the entertainment industry’s woes.
Of course, the industry itself needs to realize how it works before implementing it. Implementing the blockchain in a single company will massively affect how it does business. There’s plenty of legal frameworks to be covered before that, so it’s a bold step, albeit in the right direction. The blockchain could transform the media and entertainment industry, especially how content is created, consumed, and delivered to customers.
The potential is surely there. It’s important for the industry to realize that the future is in the blockchain, not the way business is done at the moment. It will take a while to implement all its features, but that’s the only way forward. If the entertainment industry doesn’t act fast, it will surely miss out on all the blockchain’s benefits.
As a young technology by itself, the blockchain should still overcome some challenges. Its applications and real use-cases in the entertainment industry are still not tested. There are numerous other challenges, including the costs of implementing the blockchain in this booming industry that generates billions in revenue annually. Plus, there’s a big elephant in the room regarding the blockchain, and that’s regulation. Currently, rarely does any country regulate the ledger, which could prove a big obstacle in Hollywood. The USA is currently strictly against cryptocurrencies, so the blockchain is not exactly in a legal position to help.
Then there’s the problem of time. It will take a lot of time to test the blockchain in real use-cases and implement it properly. We’re not talking weeks or months – it may be years. Where will all the intellectual property be stored? Will a third party be used in this case? If so, who owns that real estate? Many questions are surrounding the blockchain, and those obstacles may be too big to overcome.
It will take years before they’re answered, and the media and entertainment industry may not have that time. Unless those questions are given proper answers, the blockchain won’t be implemented in this booming industry.
The good news is that the world slowly realizes the technology’s potential, with many governments and businesses working on its implementation.
Media Companies Involved with Blockchain
Some media and entertainment companies have already started the implementation of blockchain in their businesses. Of course, these are smaller companies than, say, Warner Bros or the Universal Music Group. However, they can be messengers of the future that’s about to come, especially as they gain steam on the market.
Located in New York, Mediachain has even built the blockchain into its name. It uses technology to connect music to the artist and provides plenty of external information about it. Mediachain comes with an independent and decentralized music library that automatically gives listeners detailed info on the creator.
After years of solid work, Spotify acquired the Mediachain platform in 2017. It uses it to develop new strategies and technologies that will link better attributes to artists worldwide. This shows that the streaming giant is well aware of the blockchain and sees a future with it.
Civil is another New York company created by a group of journalists that use the blockchain to build a place of trust. These independent journalists have created newsrooms where they share unique content. The blockchain guarantees the intellectual ownership of each piece of work. At the same time, it successfully deals with false information, showing that the blockchain could be a solution for misleading news articles.
The most popular news outlets that feature content on Civil are the Colorado Sun and the Block Club from Chicago. Plenty of new arrivals could hit the platform soon to the delight of thousands of readers.
Unlike most of the other entries on this list, binded is a photography platform. It uses the blockchain to bind images to photographers, making them their intellectual property. Whenever a photographer uploads an image, it is stored in a secure block. It is encrypted by a unique fingerprint saved on the blockchain, which makes stealing photos simply impossible.
Once uploaded, the images can be shared by photographers as they see fit. The Binded blockchain has over 350,000 images stored. Whenever an image is shared online, it is shared with the #Binded hashtag that prompts instant registration with the platform.
Located in Texas, Steemit is a decentralized social media platform that rewards its users for creating unique content in (you guessed it) STEEM tokens. This gives users an incentive to join the platform and create content. Everything is stored on the blockchain, and those who own the highest number of tokens gain so-called STEEM Power.
These power users have a big impact on the platform. They can decide on community matters and how rewards are distributed. You’re becoming a member of the platform’s board with a major voice in different matters.
Since launching in 2018, Steemit has recorded and paid more than $90 million to community members. According to stats, it has over 1 million active users.
Dot Blockchain Media
Dot Blockchain Media is a perfect example of how blockchain could help the media industry. It’s a rights management platform for the music industry that stores immutable artists’ records and publisher and label rights. It ensures that royalty payments are properly dispersed so that no one gets ripped.
The company has partnered with Cardstack and aims to pay artists accurately based on streams on numerous platforms. It’s a game-changer that could prove the industry needs to see the blockchain as a viable solution to its problems.
Can the Blockchain End the Woes of Entertainment and Media?
While it could take years of work or more time, the blockchain is a great solution for many problems in this industry. It will ensure that everyone gets their due and solve the problem of content creation and aggregation. Artists will surely love what it offers, although it remains to be seen if companies are ready for such a step.
For now, it’s just a promising technology that could be implemented in the future. The blockchain is the future for many industries, and media and entertainment may be the first ones to use it.
Featured Photo by Kevin Ku from Pexels