Music Industry

Published on November 19th, 2017 | by Amber Healy

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Want to invest in Drake’s music? Now you can!

Now being a fan of Drake or Kanye or Eminem can turn into cash in your pocket.

Used to be that artists prized holding on to all their rights in order to fully control – and receive – royalties for their work.

Used to be, also, that selling albums was the way to make your money as a musician.

Oh, how times are changing.

Eminem announced earlier this year he’s selling shares of his songs. It’s a way to bring in a little more income, because traditional avenues aren’t what they used to be.

Now some artists, including Drake and Kanye West are taking it a step farther. They’re selling shares of their songs and they’re only accepting cryptocurrency, aka bitcoin, for these transactions.

To translate: You (so long as you don’t live in the US) can purchase a stake in the eventual money earned by sales of albums, downloads and streams of songs by artists including Drake, all for a share of a bitcoin.

Welcome to the music industry of the future.

The company behind this concept, named Vezt, says it “allows artists to sell shares of their songs to music fans. Music fans can share ownership of songs with their favorite artists, then everybody earns tokens though royalties.”

Vezt uses blockchain technology– Ethereum, specifically — as a way to monitor how much money is coming in as people purchase shares of a song.  It’s really like buying stock in a company: The more fans buy into a given song, the more each share is worth because there’s only so much (in theory) to go around. As the shares become scarce, the cost goes up and your initial investment, let’s say $1, becomes part of a bigger pool, so it becomes more like $5 or $10 or $100. All for showing some faith in a performer you already support in other ways.

A token sale, allowing investors to claim their piece of the money pot, was scheduled to start on November 5 with “an MPV launch occurring before the end of 2017.”  That date has been pushed back to early 2018.

According to Vezt, “artists and rights holders choose how much they’d like to raise from a part or fraction of their song. They also set the reversion term as well as a date for their ‘ISO’ – or Initial Song Offering.”

People who buy a share of the rights do so during that ISO, providing money up front (in the form of irrefutable and uncorruptable digital bitcoin tokens). The rights information for each purchase is noted in Vezt’s blockchain ledger. Money is made through the collection of royalties paid in through performing rights organizations, like ASCAP and BMI, in 137 countries around the world, and from digital performance royalties, which collect fractions of pennies from streams of songs on Spotify, Pandora and the like.

“Vezt transfers earnings back to the artists and to anybody who participated in the ISO; this creates a new marketplace ‘with no limits on new and exciting music artists will create,’” the company says.

The full list of songs in the Vezt portfolio:

  • “Devil In a New Dress” as recorded by Kanye West
  • “Jodeci Freestyle” as recorded by Drake
  • “Who Do We Think We Are” as recorded by John Legend
  • “Scientology” as recorded by Rick Ross

It’s been reported that Vezt has a 10% stake in “Jodeci Freestyle,” which should be available for purchase now – it was supposed to be made available November 16. But act fast—they were limiting investors to just 100 people willing to take a gamble on a new concept.

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About the Author

I write about music policy and lawsuits because they're endlessly fascinating.


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