What is blockchain exactly?

You are probably familiar with blockchain as the underlying enabling technology which has been developed to support the well-known cryptocurrency Bitcoin. 
But in reality, blockchains have the possibility to reach far beyond their original intended purpose of financial transactions. 

Specifically, in connection to the creative industries, there is huge potential for blockchain to revolutionise the way artists work and get paid, ensuring their intellectual value can reach its full potential in a fair and less complicated way. Let’s break it down for you:

Essentially, blockchain is like one big, global spreadsheet, or database, which is distributed openly. Anyone can access what is going on, person to person, with no intermediary. It does not require any established institution to authenticate or settle transactions. This means that blockchains can record any structured information. It cannot be hacked, copied or manipulated. It goes without saying that in terms of financial services, this has revolutionised the way transactions are made, completely independent from central authorities, on a foundation of truth and trust.

Because blockchain is a decentralised system, it could ultimately be used in any context where an intermediary is needed.

Just like blockchain disrupted the way financial transactions have originally been managed institutionally, let’s say through big banks, credit card companies, etc., it could disrupt and completely redefine the intermediary between artists and their audiences.  

McKinsey has listed several important features of blockchain that could be used for the benefit of the creative economy, described in detail here and here. Especially the music industry has a lot of value to gain from disrupting the already existing system, in which the artists have almost no participation in the value they create. Originally managed by big labels and today distributed by big tech companies like Spotify and iTunes, it leaves artists with little revenue from what they create. Imagine if the new music industry became a distributed app on the blockchain, where artists could post their products onto same blockchain with a contract that specifies how it could be used – this way, the artists would get compensated directly for the value they create.

Of course, there are plenty of challenges and risks, particularly due to the fact that blockchain is still a very new technology – but just think about the potential it holds for disrupting the existing systems within the cultural and creative industries! 

The future of blockchain technology in connection to the cultural and creative industries will be discussed at our webinar Wednesday 17 June @ 9:00-10:00 CEST!

Take part in the discussion on how creatives can utilise the full potential of blockchain and learn from our experts: Antonia Folguera (Curator and communicator, Sónar), Jack Nikogosian (CEO, Aryze), Heidi Svane Pedersen (Head of Digital, Lifestyle & Design Cluster) & Amir Ghomi (founder, Unlimit Music). 
You can sign up for the webinar and read more right here.

Together we will examine how and why blockchain is the beginning of a new era of technology, as well as the many opportunities – but also challenges – blockchain poses for future development.