I’ve been a little skeptical of that part myself, but it’s hard to deny that the price sure has been shooting up the past few years! Anyone who has taken that approach is probably doing pretty well so far.
But what are the current uses and benefits of Bitcoin for musicians specifically? And do you think there are any new uses for musicians that could emerge in the future?
Bitcoin can be really great for musicians. One easy example is for “micro-tipping”. People can’t send an artist 50 cents right now on a credit card, because unlike with Bitcoin, there are too many fees for it to make sense—Visa or MasterCard would take most of it.
However, if you like a piece of content an artist created and have Bitcoin, you can send small amounts really easily—even fractions of a penny to show support. If you get a lot of tips, it adds up!
Pop Chest [and others] are doing automatic, low cost Bitcoin pay-per-views with videos, and the people on there are making way more than they would on YouTube for the same views.
The problem with this of course, is that not everyone has Bitcoin, but it’s good to be ahead of the curve, and people in the fast-growing Bitcoin community is really supportive of one another.
Another use case that seems to be really popular with labels and publishers, is registering their work and even their payment contracts on the blockchain. This will allow artists to put their songs out with all the splits built-in and paying out in a transparent and automated way.
This should streamline the licensing process and make it far faster and more efficient. Providing a transparent accounting model for artist payment is a huge win to ensure everyone is compensated fairly. I don’t know how sexy that is for artists, but the administration of rights is something that eats a lot of resources in the industry and needs an overhaul.
Then, there is also my own project, “Tatiana Coin”, which is the alpha of “Artist Coins”. We are exploring other ways of using tokenization too, like album tokens similar to MP3s that you can share with your friends without violating copyright.
Interesting. So what exactly are “Artist Coins”, and how and why did you use them to fund your album?
When I met with Adam B. Levine of LetsTalkBitcoin.com in the Spring of 2014, I came to him as an artist, faced with the most obvious problems for musicians: funding and fans.
How do I make sure I can afford to eat, pay rent, and put out good music? How do I make sure that I am not playing to an empty room? These are universal issues that everyone experiences that we believed Bitcoin could help resolve.
Crowdfunding was already in full bloom by then, but it had limitations. The campaigns only ran for a certain amount of time and the prizes were fixed. If you gave me $50, you get a T-shirt. If you don’t like the T-shirt, tough luck. It’s not something you can necessarily re-sell easily.
By creating my artist coin, I have created a personally-branded digital token that can be redeemed for any perk you want. It’s like a digital gift certificate for anything in my store.
This way, my supporters get flexible tokens and can use them to get recorded music, concert tickets, swag, custom fan experiences, and more. We even have token-controlled access to exclusive content, and pre-sales that are available only for fans who buy the Tatiana Coin. You can also sell the coins, or give them away to friends and family.
In addition to serving as a personalized currency for my own store, the artist coin functions as the “key” to connect to my inner peer-to-peer space where fans can message me directly, and be a part of my inner circle.
I don’t have to build up an audience for Facebook to advertise to and charge me to connect with. There’s no one standing between me and my fans, therefore I can create the art that they want. That art really reflects the community I am a part of and have worked so hard to help create. I set the terms for how much to charge, what to offer, and how to deliver it, and I can be responsive to the requests of my fans. It makes us all partners in a way.
You can buy Tatiana Coins with USD and other fiat currencies, though Bitcoin is the easiest and fastest way to get Tatiana Coin. We are doing a crowdfunding campaign for my new album starting today [February 9th] for 30 days, natively on my site. Our goal is to raise $15,000 to support the new album on a North American and European tour throughout the spring and summer.
What was the process like to get setup to accept Bitcoin and Artist Coin? Do you need any specialized training, or are there easy places where other artists can go to get this kind of thing set up for themselves?
Getting set up to accept Bitcoin is easy. You can check out the various “wallet” software or services to get a Bitcoin address that you can use when you want people to send you money.
To play with artist coins, you need to get a “Counterparty”-compatible wallet. I like Tokenpockets because it’s easy.
The goal is for the artist to be able to use that token anywhere they want and have total control over their fans and finances. We are in testing mode still, with the early beta launching in February, so it’s an exciting time to [get on board].
Would you call this funding project a success so far, and what would you like to see go even better in the future?
When we first launched the project in June of 2014, we raised about $10,000 in Bitcoin which we used to fund the production of Keep the Faith which is coming out in March.
So yes, that was a success since I already have a record to show for it! However, at that time, it was really hard to donate.
We now have a new iteration of the concept [to complete the campaign and launch the album] and it’s much easier for anyone to participate even if they don’t have Bitcoin yet. By the conclusion of the campaign, many more of the features will be available.
Our goal for the [final leg of the] campaign is to fund the album launch and start an educational effort so I can promote these ideas and continue to create content for fans. I will also be touring throughout the year in support of the album.
Tell us a bit about this new album. How and where did you record it, and what were you going for?
Geeky is more my engineer and producer Will Hensley’s realm. Though I suppose getting everyone to sign up for Bitcoin is a bit geeky too!