Hakim Draper, cofounder of Boogie Shack Music Group, believes that Blockchain holds the power to spark the greatest revolution in the music industry since Apple launched the iTunes Music Store in 2001 - which, despite many new opportunities for independent artists, has left the industry still largely controlled by major labels and platforms - and, of course, money.
Boogie Shack has teamed up with Tao Network, a blockchain-based content distribution platform for the music industry, to launch the coin (Symbol XTO) on CCEX and plan to use this bitcoin to create unique cryptocurrency for music artists.
Because our own team at APPCityLife is exploring Blockchain while adding Artificial Intelligence and chatbots to our platform that serves cities, I was pleased to learn how this same technology is beginning to disrupt the music industry.
How did a long-time music executive get the idea to develop cryptocurrency around an artist's brand? Hakim is son of legendary Jazz musician and composer Ray Draper and grew up surrounded by musicians. It isn't all that surprising, then, that he launched his own studio which eventually sold to a major label or that his more than twenty years as a successful entertainment and music executive, included serving as the Director of Licensing for Warner Chappell Production Music.
The list of musicians who have personally worked with Hakim to produce music features major stars including Lil Wayne, Birdman, Drake, Kanye West, Chris Rene, Prince Lefty, and Rich Tycoon.
But Hakim's focus isn't solely on music. He also spent several years in Silicon Valley working for Fortune 500 companies like Agile Software and Ariba Technologies.
He says it was this blending of tech and music that led Hakim to envision Blockchain as the tool to revolutionize the music industry.
"In late 2015, I'd left Warner Music Group, frustrated with what I felt was the music industry's passive approach to new technology and lack of progress with artists rights, education, and development. Shortly thereafter I met Bryce Weiner, the founder of Tao Network, and he introduced me to Blockchain technology and the idea of tokenizing an ecosystem. The more I learned about Cryptocurrency and saw the proliferation and potential applications of Blockchain - and the more Bryce learned about the challenges for those in the music industry, the more we could both see how it could be applied in a mutually complementary way within the Industry."
And while the rest of us may still be arguing about whose face should be on the $20 bill, Hakim and his team have found a way for every artist in the music industry to have their very own currency.
Why would an artist want their own cryptocurrency - and, more importantly, why would we want them?
Hakim says it all hinges on the shifts in modern music which now demand engagement with fans in authentic and intimate ways.
"We see this as opening that direct pipeline between artist and fan," he says. "And the more artists must rely on other funding sources, the more of their rights they are forced to give away. Artists and fans will collaborate on everything from songs to merchandise to tours - and the level of fan involvement will dictate the level of access that they have."
Boogie Shack and Tao Network have several initial artist cryptocurrency offerings lined up, even if they aren't quite ready to share who will be the first artists to launch their own currencies.
"We see the opportunity for artists and fans to use cryptocurrency as rewards and to gain further access and interaction across the entire relationship. Artists can raise money, fund tours, and retain more control of their career. Overall, the AltMarket ecosystem creates new and exciting ways for brands to explore interactions with their fans and with each other," says Hakim.
"Fans can support the brands that they love in real ways and be given something they can hold and cherish and pass down to their children the way that people do with vinyl records. It's a whole new way to share the experience of an artist with others for both the current and future generations."
It remains to be seen whether branded cryptocurrencies will, indeed, disrupt the music industry. But I have to admit that if I found out someone like Lady Gaga was offering the chance to support her Born This Way Foundation by purchasing her music with her own cryptocurrency, I'd be pretty tempted to dabble in the cryptocurrency market.