NFT music is not about killing streaming
The promise of decentralization in any market is that it enables a new ecosystem to emerge, potentially unbound by entrenched ideas, corporate rules, regulations, or politics. That decentralization doesn’t need to consume every aspect of the music industry to be valuable; it can act as a supplement or an alternative. It’s up to us to decide how we use it and what type of future we want to build in an open market.
NFT music is not about replacing streaming. It’s about establishing networks of collectors who can trade and sell digital music pieces as either art or assets, which can become the core foundation of a creator’s career.
The streaming model — however broken it may be — is an entrenched experience and one that’s not going anywhere anytime soon. NFT music can co-exist quite happily alongside it, without needing to offer a complete shift and without burning down the systems, platforms, tools, and behaviors that support streaming. Instead, it can work in symbiosis with it.
NFT music can help establish an artist’s core fanbase by giving them a way to collect, trade, and sell their favorite artist’s music. This can create a more sustainable and long-term relationship between artist and fan and provide additional revenue streams for the artist. Alongside those revenue opportunities, streaming will remain the keyway that most listeners interact with artists and their work. But the core will become dedicated collectors who are willing to pay for a more premium product, asset, artifact, or experience.
NFT music may even help fix some of the streaming world’s problems. For example, by directly connecting artists with their fans and giving fans a way to support artists financially, NFT music will allow streaming to fulfill a role as a distribution funnel to bring listeners to an artist’s work, without requiring artists to rely diminutive royalty payments.
That’s not to say that we will not be able to stream NFTs as a listening experience; that’s an essential feature for collectors who want to appreciate and enjoy the music that backs their pieces. But the idea is that we can start to move away from the one-to-many relationship of streaming services to a many-to-many system where collectors and creators can directly trade and support each other and build their own streaming platforms through shared collections.
Decentralized streaming may not become a leading force in the streaming vertical, but it will cater to certain groups of fans, specific genres of music and will help to build a more sustainable and supportive infrastructure for music as a whole; a more comprehensive range of streaming options can prevent algorithmic homogeneity, and support a more diverse range of music.
It’s still early days for NFT music. The correct paradigm for mainstream adoption won’t be streaming, but it could be merchandising, and it could be limited edition releases; there are clear pathways for both. What’s important is that we experiment and use the open market and the power of decentralization to imagine a better music industry rather than simply replicate the old. And in doing so, we shouldn’t attempt to argue that we can directly replace the old.