A few days ago, futurist-artist Björk announced that not only would she accept cryptocurrencies as payment for her 10th album, Utopia—she’ll also give away 100 AudioCoins alongside any purchase.
What is AudioCoin?
AudioCoin is a cryptocurrency launched by British blockchain startup Blockpool, with the goal of decentralizing music currency to “reward fans and artists simultaneously” by moving past the centralized streaming model embodied by services like Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music. For Utopia, Blockpool has teamed up with One Little Indian Records to build a crypto-checkout plugin for the label’s online store, allowing users to pre-order Utopia using AudioCoin, as well as Bitcoin, Litecoin and Dashcoin.
If you’re new to blockchain, this might be a good time to take a look at these primers. If the increasing buzz around Bitcoin and Ethereum are any indication, it’s not going anywhere—and the technology will touch every industry by revolutionizing much of how the Internet operates.
For now, the simplest way to think about it is as a decentralized network where no one party “owns” the data. It’s distributed among all participants; the network is the infrastructure. Cryptocurrencies are the currencies that operate on these networks.
This isn’t the first time an artist has incorporated a crypto play; this summer, RAC released his album, EGO, on Ethereum, and before that, Imogen Heap let users purchase her single “Tiny Human” with Ether(Ethereum’s cryptocurrency).
“People have done things with crypto and artists before, but this is the first time a global artist has done anything like this,” said Blockpool CEO Kevin Bacon in an interview with Musically. “While it will be interesting to see how the crypto community responds to this, Utopia is also a gateway for people to go into crypto for the first time. Björk is the best artist in the world we could imagine doing this.”
When the news broke, an AudioCoin was worth about $0.0026. Three days later, it is up to about $0.0075—a net 3x jump in as many days. So we can immediately see how this news will benefit the blockchain community, hut how will it impact the music industry?
Why This Matters for the Music Industry
We might be inclined to compare this move to Radiohead’s “pay what you want” digital release of In Rainbows a decade ago. And while we can definitely see echoes in the subversion of expected revenue models by embracing emerging trends, it’s arguable that Björk’s move will have a greater (if less immediately obvious) influence on the music industry.