Bitcoin has been a trending topic around the world the past few weeks, exponentially increasing its popularity as a currency. How will these new popular digital dollars affect the music industry, especially rap music? When I set out to write this article I didn’t have an answer for that question, so I began my research.

For those who aren’t familiar with BitCoin, it is a digital currency referred to as a “cryptocurrency” because it is decentralized and uses cryptography to prevent double-spending. Users can send micropayments anonymously to one another from their cell phone or computer much like cash. Created by mathematician Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoins were popularized by those in the underground, the new currency quickly gained traction amongst shady characters and websites like Silk Road, which was recently shut down for operating illegally. In the past few weeks, BitCoin has seen an influx of mainstream media attention, growing to its highest value ever currently set at $212.11 USD for 1 Bitcoin or BTC. Just days ago, I purchased my first BTC at $198.00 and have already seen profit on my investment. There is no doubt the currency is hot and now more than ever corporations are looking for ways to accept Bitcoins. Innovation has been driving Bitcoin‘s popularity as people look for an anonymous way to send payments to one another just like cash via their digital devices. Unlike Paypal or online banking the transactions are not linked to a name or bank account.

Artists need to consider the fact that Bitcoin and file sharing can easily compliment each other. Imagine the perks as an independent artist, being able to trade your work anonymously for profit. The method of peer-to-peer file sharing we currently use today was made popular by mainstream software the likes of BitTorrent and Napster but now with BTC there is plenty of room for innovation when it comes to how music is traded or sold. It would allow for a decentralized record label (one in which the artists retain control over their catalogs) to manage the finances for itself and all artists at virtually no cost beyond programming. Functioning as an escrow service, a theoretical label could allocate revenue to the artists instantly.This would be the first time anyone has streamlined the approach creating a peer-to-peer relationship between the label and the artist. Producers who work with artists all over the world would become more accessible and be able to easily do transactions with their collaborators, not having to worry about foreign exchange. Artists could release mixtapes for free and receive donations via Bitcoin untaxed, radio stations could create pay to listen services and promoters could even have people standing in lines with their phones waiting to scan their Bitcoins away to enter a concert or other event.

bitcoins in rap music

An example of this type of innovation is exhibited by start-up project BitTunes.

Bittunes allows users to generate micro payments in Bitcoin by buying and then re-distributing independent digital music files. Bittunes is somewhat like a P2P version of Apple’s iTunes, however, Bittunes scales the complex iTunes model down to a much simpler service, decentralizes the distribution process, and totally inverts the music buying paradigm by allowing members to profit from the songs they buy.Bittunes has the potential to change the basis of competition in many ways, not only by its earning incentive, but by competing in the long-tail of music rather than in the sale of main-stream record label music. The service also has the potential to dramatically ‘level the playing field’ for participants in the music industry, using a variation of the creative commons license system to simplify and automate fair royalties, and provides an easy way for fans to earn money by sharing digital content.
Even before Bitcoin, the record industry’s production and distribution costs had dipped drastically as the result of the creation of the Internet. Now, with decentralized digital currencies gaining popularity, those costs could decrease even further. Bitcoin has made a decentralized peer-to-peer record label viable for the first time in history.

Another innovation we have seen recently is the first jukebox accepting BTC. Beatcoin debuted at the recent Disrupt Europe: Hackathon offering venue owners the chance to open up their sound system to their customers in exchange for Bitcoin micropayments.

Beatcoin says this of their product:

“Want to set up a juke box in your place? It’s as easy as downloading an app to your mobile and connecting it to the sound system. We will instantly spin up a site for all your device’s titles and allow visitors to vote on the next song with micro payments.”

Although it isn’t likely you will see your favorite rapper flashing their BitCoin balance into the camera for their latest video, this new and exciting service should not be overlooked by aspiring artists or solidified stars.

Can you think of any interesting ways to innovate the rap game using Bitcoins? Do you plan on picking up any of the currency for yourself? Sound off in the comments below.

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