Posts Tagged ‘blockchain’

How Bitcoin Works

December 16, 2015

Money is a symbol, visualised as a token, a coin, a piece of paper,  something we all agree on as to its intrinsic value. Without that agreement, it cannot function as viable currency.

Bitcoin is a crypto-currency, numbers in a computer.

There are several underlying problems with bitcoin.

For a currency to be viable it has to be widely accepted and stable. Bitcoin is neither.

The amount of energy required to generate or mine future bitcoins is not good for the planet, ie there is a real environmental cost associated with bitcoin.

Faircoin, which can be seen as BitCoin 2.0, attempts to address some of the problems associated with bitcoin.

We live in a world where we are connected instantaneously to everyone else in the world from a device we hold in our hand. We can communicate by voice or video, we can send files, pictures, music, books. The marginal cost of doing so is near zero. The marginal cost of the things we are distributing, sharing, is near zero.

Why then do we have antiquated methods of dealing with money, of paying for things, when we have a device in our hands that can do all of these things at zero marginal cost?. At street level, use cash. Within the internet us a crypto-currency. We do not need banks.

$500 billion is sent home by migrant workers. Typically they send these remittances home by walking into a Western Union Office, showing their ID, paying a fee of somewhere between seven to ten percent, the recipient walks into a similar office, shows an ID and recipient code, and picks up the cash. A very antiquated system.

Cheque clearing, was, maybe still is, even more antiquated. Cheques go the the head office, they are then literally couriered across to the head office of another bank.

If I wish to invest in the Robin Hood Hedge Fund, it costs 50 euros for membership, plus 50 euros each share, If payment goes across national boundaries, there are additional costs associated with each Central Bank.

If you own bitcoin, you can via the network, transfer to other accounts at zero marginal cost.

The internet runs on Open Software and Open Standards. The bitcoin blockchain is built on Open Software and Open Standards.

If I walk in a bank, and transfer money from one account to another, I do not have to take money out, then pay it back in (though I may wish to do that in the Cayman islands if I am money laundering and do not wish my transfer to be easily traced). What usually happens, the money is directly transferred from one account to another, in reality the sum is debited from one account and added to another account. But it means I have to trust the bank as a trusted third party.

The bitcoin blockchain allows the transfer of digital assets from one entity to another in a verifiable way (these assets may be viewed as a crypto-currency but do not have to be). A message is sent to the network, that enables the transfer of these assets from one account to another. The blockchain is a tamper proof ledger in the public domain. The asset transferred in the case of bitcoin, is a currency, but it does not have to be.

The blockchain has uses beyond bitcoin.  Singer-songwriter Imogen Heap has proposed Mycelia, a blockchain for tracking music. She has released Tiny Human to test out the concept.

Imogen Heap releases Tiny Human using blockchain technology

November 28, 2015

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Imogen Heap is a rare example of someone in the music industry who knows what she is about. As does cellist Zoe Keating.

A music event, with a little music.

Imogen Heap used the event to release Tiny Human into the wild with the help of Mycelia, a blockchain for tracking and cataloguing music.

This one action, release of Tiny Human, could change the face of the music industry, and at a  stroke, eliminate the middle men who for years have been  parasites on artists and music lovers.

Imogen Heap:

I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if I could decide what I wanted to do with my music?. I might decide, today’s my birthday, I’m going to give all of my music to everyone for free today. At the moment, I can’t do that. Because it’s out there, and once it’s out there, I don’t really have a say in it any more.

Zoe Keating:

I can imagine a ledger of all that information and an ecosystem of killer apps to visualize usage and relationships. I can imagine a music exchange where the real value of a song could be calculated on the fly. I can imagine instant, frictionless micropayments and the ability to pay collaborators and investors in future earnings without it being an accounting nightmare.

Imogen Heap:

It feels as if the music industry is a complete mess, a rusty, overstretched, tired machine. Grappling with a lot of old crooked contracts that don’t reflect our times, music services that run on greed to please shareholders smothered in buy-buy-buy adverts, dated accounting setups favouring anyone but the artist thanks to gross inefficiencies, confusing royalty statements and delayed payments… plus patchy copyright databases. It is almost impossible to find out who REALLY gets what.

Artists create the music, but if signed to a record label, have very little control.

We hear all the time of artists being owed millions.  The latest Sly Stone, living in a van.

Bandcamp enables artists to put their music out there. Fans can decide if they like it or not, if they do, they can download, choose to pay the artists some money. The artists also get the data.

Zoe Keating distributes her music on bandcamp, for example her album Into The Trees.

Zoe Keating is unusual in that she publishes her earnings on-line for all to see. Contrary to the rubbish we hear from the major record labels, piracy and sharing is not a problem, it is services like spotify that are screwing everyone.

I initially published my digital music earnings because the dominant story in the press on artist earnings did not reflect my reality, nor that of musical friends I talked to. None of us were concerned about file sharing/piracy, we seemed to sell plenty of music directly to listeners via pay-what-you-want services while at the same time earn very little from streaming.

On bandcamp, music is offered at a low price, or pay-what-you-think-it-is-worth. Far from seeing this as an opportunity to rip artists off, fans will often pay more than the asking price.

Interesting comment from cellist Zoe Keating on the number of times her music appears (unauthorised) in youtube videos.

… other than hit songs, it is near impossible to know what the real popularity of a piece of music is. Nielsen recognized this and added streams to SoundScan rankings, but the internet is far more interesting than that.

What about popularity by “use?” To use myself as an example again, there are to date 15,000 videos on YouTube with my music in them, none of them by me. The videos are other people’s unlicensed dance performances, commercial films, TV shows, student films, experimental films, art projects, soundtracks to gaming session, etc. But currently there is no way to leverage that kind of enthusiasm. Only YouTube knows how popular my music is for unauthorized soundtracks.

With blockchain and Mycelia there would be a means to track, and to pay for that use.

There is a need for change, for the simple reason as Imogen Heaps says, the record businesses was founded on unscrupulous practices, screwing the artist, greed writ large.

It’s time to turn the music industry on its feet. I say that, as it’s always been topsy-turvy. The record industry built its foundation upon the blues and jazz of predominantly African American artists, who were not given the best deals for anything at the time… never mind record deals! Their pockets were the last thing on the deal makers minds. Lawyers and accountants made the decisions, and built contracts entirely around bringing in the big guns the most amount of money and the artists the least; if, indeed, any at all. These founding artists were given a shockingly bad deal, and ever since artists have been struggling to have their voice heard.

Combined with this, the industry wasn’t birthed in our digital age where online databases and flow of information are the norm. It’s adopted technology in various forms along the way, that invariably didn’t fit with what came before, and as a result, it’s become more and more fragmented and ultimately gotten itself into a right tangle.

Now it feels as if the music industry is a complete mess, a rusty, overstretched, tired machine. Grappling with a lot of old crooked contracts that don’t reflect our times, music services that run on greed to please shareholders smothered in buy-buy-buy adverts, dated accounting setups favouring anyone but the artist thanks to gross inefficiencies, confusing royalty statements and delayed payments (if any at all), coupled with the music itself not always being tagged effectively, and thus leading to mistakes… plus patchy copyright databases. It is almost impossible to find out who REALLY gets what. I’ve lost sleep in the past, scratching my head over the small print, with an icky feeling maybe I was selling my soul to do what I love. And, at the end of it all, more times than not, we are listening to seriously degraded quality sound files, on tinny speakers or trendy hyped up headphones lacking quality sound. Artists and music, deserve better.

Mycelia and blockchain offer the opportunity for change.

Who owns Mycelia? This is critical. It cannot be a high tech death star. It has to be an open common, to which we can all contribute, all draw from, part of the sharing economy.

Who owns the top level domain domain name .music? At the moment Amazon and Google are in the bidding. They should not be allowed to control .music, it should be in the global commons, there for artists and music lovers.

Distribution of artistic material, payments, gaining information, is not simply knowing where the material has ended up and obtaining due payment, it may even be as fundamental as deciding will it be released. Artists too often find material they would not wish to see released, is released, or conversely, material they wish to see released is not released.

Nina Paley upon thsi problem when she reelased Sita Sings the Blues.

Depressing, health care companies monitoring us, what we are listening to. Big Brother writ large and a serious infringement of privacy.

This is what was discussed at Europe is Kaput last week. If we are being monitored, are aware we are being monitored, does it change our behaviour, is this the world in which we wish to live? This is a world controlled by death star apps. But illustrates information can be used for good or bad. Artists want transparency, see where their music is going, but we do not wish to create a society in which our every thought, movement, action, is monitored, logged, manipulated by death stars.

This article could be added to the block chain for Tiny Human.

Can Bitcoin and the blockchain help independent artists make a living?
Bitcoin and the Arts: An Interview with Artist and Composer, Zoe Keating
Why use spotify when there are far better alternatives?
The Cryptocurrency-Based Projects That Would Pay Everyone Just for Being Alive
Bitcoin Can’t Save The Music Industry Because The Music Industry Will Resist Transparency
The Bitcoin Blockchain Just Might Save The Music Industry…If Only We Could Understand It
Imogen Heap’s Mycelia: An Artists’ Approach for a Fair Trade Music Business, Inspired by Blockchain

Tiny Human

November 24, 2015

Haunting music, interesting video, more like a modern dance routine or a minimalist drama.

Tiny Human, is the first release from Imogen Heap since her album Sparks, aka HeapSongs, released early 2014.  Scamp, her daughter, happened along the way, and was her inspiration for Tiny Human.

Imogen Heap, Immie to her friends, has released Tiny Human as an experiment, to test out her idea of Mycelium.

The music industry is in crisis, or so we are repeatedly told by the record industry and its apologists.

When was the last time you bought a CD or a record? Chances are, you’re listening to more music than ever, but buying less of it.

As has been repeatedly shown by bass player Steve Lawson and music professor Andrew Dubber, this is not the case.

The music industry is not in crisis, it is in a healthy state, it costs a fraction of what it once did to record and release music, artists can communicate directly with their fans.

What is in crisis, is the major record labels, for years they ripped off fans and artists, now they are no longer needed.

In terms of sales of shiny circular bits of plastic, sales have not collapsed as we are led to believe, not if we add in DVDs and games.

If I look at the last four weeks, I have bought as many CDs as the number of weeks. Actually more, and a DVD, and several books. But maybe I am atypical.

What Imogen Heap is trying to do, and using Tiny Human as an experimental release,  is to elimnate the middle (unless they add value) and use the blockchain (the on-line database that tracks and logs) to keep track of where the music goes and to facilitate payments to the artist.

The blockchain will hold all the information, artwork, recording studio, players, composer, lyricist, all that would be expected in sleeve notes, plus lots more.  It could, for example, link to this article.

You can download Tiny Human for free, choose if you wish to make a payment using bitcoin.

bitcoin immie

bitcoin immie

Immie bitcoin address

  • 16diWTDN8DUxsX994WzyNAotVp36qBqXku

Using bitcoin a mistake, it would have been better to have used faircoin.

Faircoin addresses many of the problems of bitcoin, but more importantly, it was established to support projects like Mycelia. Closer cooperation between the two, would be to the advantage of both.

Faicoin uses open source software, is reliant upon the blockchain. Collaboration would be in the interests of both.

In many ways Mycelia is an extension of bandcamp, which enables on-line listening, payment to artist, album notes, artist notes, and the artist gets the data.

Mycelia extends this further and is far more ambitious. To include every artist, could be extended to e-books, indeed anything of a digital nature.

No reason why bandcamp could not be a participating partner.

What bandcamp has shown, fans are willing to pay for music, support the artist they like.

There is no control. I would recommend Tiny Human, or maybe a future release, an album or EP, is released on bandcamp too. There is then something to compare with, currently nothing.

Maybe Zoe Keating or Jewelia release their next recording through bandcamp and Mycelia. We will then have a comparison.

Blockchain: Each block contains a record of transactions. It is linked to the previous block, and contain a crypto-hash of the previous block. It is transparent, and available to everyone. It is these factors that make it secure.


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