For musicians, cryptocurrency will be as disruptive as MTV

When it launched 40 years ago, on August 1, 1981, MTV signaled a brand new period the place artists cast deeper connections with followers by music movies, on-air interviews, dwell performances, and contests. Whereas there’s been large change in each facet of the music trade since, I’d argue that nothing has sparked the identical outpouring from followers and reshaped how artists join with their followers fairly like MTV did.

Till now, with cryptocurrency.

We’re simply beginning to see artists of all ranges experiment with their very own cryptocurrencies to faucet into new income streams and deeper fan engagement. Performers are embracing it as a substitute for the large tech-owned social media platforms which were taking advantage of their labor over the previous decade. And very like MTV’s early years, cryptocurrency has the identical unbiased game-changing spirit to shake up the system and the potential to massively shift popular culture.

From its inception, MTV understood the symbiotic relationship between artists and followers and helped drive a major change within the trade’s enterprise mannequin, whereby followers anticipated interplay with their favourite artists. Throughout my time at MTV (and sister internet CMT) from 2010 to 2018, the model continued to broaden past music, however that elementary understanding was ever current in early experimentation throughout digital platforms.

With the O Music Awards, MTV pioneered new methods for followers and artists to attach on-line, together with the world’s largest digital music competition and the Flaming Lips’ record-setting tour throughout which they carried out eight live shows in 24 hours, beginning in Memphis and ending in New Orleans. The launch of MTV Artists platform in 2012 marked an formidable effort to assist artists achieve entryway into our corridors by self-submitting their movies to air throughout MTV, VH1 and CMT, whereas additionally making a one-stop-shop the place followers might hear and purchase music, buy tickets, and extra. On the 2013 VMAs, we offered a brand new sort of immersive expertise, giving viewers the flexibility to decide on digital camera feeds and chat with different followers from around the globe. And within the final 5 years, CMT has pushed for equality with the “Subsequent Ladies of Nation” marketing campaign, which introduces followers to up-and-coming feminine artists which have largely been ignored by nation radio. 

Whereas MTV was innovating throughout this time, social media startups, music streaming companies and video platforms had been taking off and confirmed large promise in bringing followers nearer to their favourite artists than ever earlier than. Simply when social media was gaining huge traction in 2013, MTV launched a research referred to as “Music to the M Energy” which confirmed how social media was dismantling boundaries between artist and followers, making a “zero-distancing” impact. Greater than half of millennial respondents acknowledged that they felt nearer to their favourite acts after they shared private info with them.

Regardless of the promising begin, after we analyze the digital panorama at this time, there are nonetheless components that trigger rifts within the artist-fan relationship. Though we now have the flexibility to entry almost all recorded music from our smartphones, we’ve sacrificed intimacy for urgency. Twitter and Instagram present followers entry to their favourite performers with the contact of a button, however there is no such thing as a sense of actual connection. Streaming platforms like Spotify and YouTube present a approach for followers to shortly entry music at an reasonably priced value, however there’s a lack of engagement and pleasure by these mediums. Followers are only a quantity on a display screen—a contributor to a listenership depend.

However crypto has the potential to shut this hole. The place followers have at all times been on the ground of the world wanting up on the artist, with crypto, for the primary time ever, followers and performers earn collectively. Followers are holders of a token demonstrating their tremendous fandom and may use that token as an entry go to unique content material, NFTs, experiences, and communities of their favourite artists. Artists can supply items and companies in change for their very own forex, and each followers and creators can take part within the progress and success of this financial system. Day-after-day with Rally, I work with creators to experiment with seemingly limitless fan advantages. Rally has collaborated with Portugal The Man, who want to re-invent the fan club with crypto, Beyoncé’s Grammy Award profitable producer !llmind, who’s collaborating on new music with fans, and DJ Wax Motif, who will let you hang with him at a music competition. 

Very like music movies existed earlier than MTV, the idea of social tokens and NFTs shouldn’t be new. Over the previous few years, a large funding has been made to construct out software program, networks, and platforms that may mint NFTs and launch social tokens at zero or an especially low price. This ease of use has opened entry to the know-how and led to amplified experimentation by principally rising artists.

Crypto permits performers of all ranges to personal their monetary relationship with followers as a substitute of counting on the normal document label system and/or tech giants to serve as a intermediary. Artists are utilizing NFTs to earn years worth of streaming revenue in one day and unlock unique experiences for fans with out counting on a centralized platform to facilitate it. Furthermore, crypto provides artists management over their very own financial success. Within the subsequent few years, we’ll see crypto develop into core to an artist’s technique, not solely as a fan engagement device, however as a constant income generator as properly. We’ll see artists construct their empires round crypto: from album releases to new music movies and merch powered by their social tokens. NFTs will be used for safe ticketing, guaranteeing that the artists will earn even when the ticket is scalped. The facility dynamic between fan and artist will shift and eventually place followers on the identical degree as their favourite artists, making a much-needed sense of group the place artists and followers are constructing a brand-new digital financial system collectively.

Identical to it appeared virtually unfathomable {that a} small upstart on a fledgling new medium would eternally change the panorama of music, crypto provides artists and their followers limitless connection factors, all whereas transferring the enterprise to the subsequent degree with an alternate income stream that brings larger worth to the creator-fan relationship.


Kurt Patat is International Head of Communications at Rally and formally SVP of Communications at MTV/CMT.