PCM: Innovating the Music Industry with Cryptocurrency

by Tatiana Moroz

Technology and I haven’t always gotten along. I remember when I went to college, my father wanted to buy me a laptop. I was annoyed at the suggestion that this machine would be more useful than a trip to Europe. Little did I know that I would be attached to my computer every day since getting one, and how useful it has been to me and millions of people around the world (though admittedly still not as fun as a trip to Italy).

Bitcoin and blockchain had the same eye rolling effect. Even though I was introduced to them by some of the best leaders in the industry (Tony Gallippi and Stephen Pair of Bitpay), and I knew the shortcomings of the current banking system, I still practically fell asleep when hearing about this tech. However, I gave a little money toward buying Bitcoin at $11 and after it went up in value, I started to warm up to the idea of a digital currency. However, it wasn’t until I spent time with Jeffrey Tucker in 2013 that it really started to click. Jeffrey had a way with words that would paint a picture of what the blockchain world would look like, and it was beautiful.

I used my talent to create “the Bitcoin Jingle” to spread the deeper ethos of the crypto community. Bitcoin didn’t care about your color, country, class, or language. It had a solution for problems that had plagued mankind for far too long. I imbued the song with these ideas that inspired me, and they resonated with the room full of over 300 Bitcoiners when it debuted at the Latin American Bitcoin Conference in Buenose Aires in December 2013.

Innovating the Music Industry with Cryptocurrency by Tatiana Moroz One of my first Bitcoin friends was Andreas Antonopoulos, who I met in Buenos Aires. I was a great admirer of his work, his talks inspired me, and I had listened to him on the podcast “Let’s Talk Bitcoin”. He soon introduced me to Adam B. Levine, the founder of LTB. Adam was a musician and a content creator like me, so naturally, we discussed the state of art in 2014. As a singer-songwriter and after many years of managing top recording studios in NYC, I had experienced first hand the many difficulties in the music industry. There was the advent of streaming, the introduction of social media networks, and the independent artist had more tools than ever, but the record companies still held the power of the purse. There were strange incentives, and I found music had lost it’s heart over the years.

It was difficult to invest (which is what a lot of labels do) in art. Who decides what’s good? It’s expensive to push an artist, and employees have an ethical obligation to watch out for the investor money. This isn’t a recipe for diversity. The accounting was notoriously opaque, usually delayed, tedious, and prone to error. The artist was often dealt the short end of the stick. The scene was ripe for disruption with the transparency and efficiency offered with Bitcoin. On a personal level, I wondered how could crypto help artists fund their own music and connect directly to their fans? In a P2P world, did we really NEED a middleman?

Sure we did, just not in between everything. In my experience, the advent of DIY (do it yourself) was an important step toward artistic freedom, but it left a lot of work up to the artist and there were only so many hours in the day. What did I care about most? Money and fans. How can I afford to make music (an expensive and time consuming endeavor that could use a paid team), and how do I connect with my fans (and get them to gigs)? Social media was helpful, but by the time Facebook rolled around, it became clear that the platform owned the relationship. When I posted, none of my tribe would even see it anymore unless I paid. My fans and I didn’t have security with our information, the feeds were manipulated, and I was creating value for the platform, not for myself.

So Adam and I set out to create the first ever artist cryptocurrency: Tatiana Coin. TC would allow me to build my own community and a foundation for real growth in my career. It would be a place to gather my most ardent supporters, my fan base that had been with me since the beginning, and speak to them directly.

Tatiana Coin and artist coins have varying functions, which are customizable by the artist. Our first one with TC was to help with crowd funding. I had done campaigns before, and they were great, but there were limitations. With TC, you could also send the coin to different friends, or sell it off, it was really flexible! On my end, I could customize pricing and offer new store items whenever I wanted, even neat stuff like hanging in the recording studio with me, or an online performance of a song cover of your choice. The possibilities were endless, and this type of thing could offer artists a hub for all sorts of activity. Keep the Faith is the album I just released, funded with Tatiana Coin.

The idea soon grew into a company Adam founded called Tokenly, that has many different types of digital token use cases from digital gaming to eSports and beyond. The music division is the platform Token.fm, which I think of as a platform for artists, by artists. Not only can you create your own personal brand of currency like Tatiana Coin and a storefront, but you can message directly with your fans, and create real peer to peer communities and marketplaces online.

We have created an album token that is a representation of a record, bringing back scarcity to the digital world. Album tokens allow and incentivize fans to become owners again, with the flexibility of the physical world brought to the online space so they can collect, lend, rent, sell, and trade the music. Cross marketing between other coins and brands will be seamless and effective, with measurable results. Our streaming services will pay artists 20x more than the average streaming platform would, and creating playlists can be profitable for power user fans. It’s invigorating to be able to actually implement possible solutions to these problems I have felt so deeply, and we are just getting started.

There’s a line in the Bitcoin Jingle that always chokes me up a bit:

“So many times I cried to myself that we didn’t have a chance. Nakamoto came along with more than a song, gave the labor back to man.”

I have spent my whole life trying to use music to make a difference. Because of this technology, and the journey it has taken me on, I have helped create true artist empowerment. It’s a joy and it brings me a deep satisfaction, so it’s easy to be passionate about it. I know that artists have the ability to bring messages to the masses, so I leave you with this one though I haven’t quite set it to music. Blockchain has something for everyone. It is the great equalizer. I hope that it allows you to set your passions free, so you too can fulfill your dreams.

This article was originally featured in PCM Magazine Vol 3. Issue 4, May 2017.

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