A Persistent Artistic Identity

I’m a hobbyist musician. I’ve been making music for more than 10 years. When I’m not working on the tech in this space, I’m having a whiskey and firing up Logic Pro to relax and make some music. For me, it’s mostly been about the pure joy of creating the music, expressing myself through it and sharing it online.

If you are like me, your production folder looks something like this. ;)

I’ve never really aimed to make a living off it, but I have wished that this hobby could support itself. I’m one of those many musicians that live in this long tail, bolstered by the amazing off-the-shelf software and hardware that allows us to express and share our music online.

I used MySpace back in the day for a short while, but never really managed to build a following there. I did, however, build a small following over the past few years on SoundCloud, amassing about ~360 followers, 17,000 plays and getting some of the music used through creative commons on various YouTube vlogs/videos. I’m happy about it even though it’s relatively paltry. I make and think about music daily and just knowing that the music I’ve created have been played 17,000 times is still a very rewarding thought!

The rest of my internet presence, however, is non-existent. As an artist, SoundCloud is my home. Hearing that it is in trouble has filled me with existential dread. Years of building a corner for my artistic alter-ego, even tiny as it is, could all disappear if it goes under. We witnessed this when MySpace changed hands: old band profiles stuck in a museum for those who manage to take a wrong turn on the internet superhighway and wander back into it.

Successful artists can manage to weather the damage caused by non-persistent internet services. Their following is strong enough that even if it causes attrition by a platform shutting down, their fans will follow them wherever they choose to be. For the rest of us, however, the hobbyist musicians and the ones trying to break out to make a living, it’s a serious concern to lose this. Not all of us have the time and energy to move fans to other spaces and recreate our artistic corner.

It’s why at Ujo, we feel that allowing artists to get access to a persistent identity, built on a strong foundation like Ethereum, will allow artists to find shelter in the face of a technological tornado that is the world we live in.

A Persistent Identity, Ideologically?

A persistent identity is about making sure that an artist can easily retain control of their music and data, regardless of who the service providers are. It is about making sure that artists don’t have to sign up, re-upload, and re-share everything in every new platform that comes around. It is about making sure that they also become easier to pay, an anchor, independent of other financial service providers.

A Persistent Identity, Technically?

When we look 5 years into the future, we are certain that a persistent artistic identity will exist in some form. Blockchains, such as Ethereum, allow us to utilize a shared, public ledger to create new, flexible identity systems, independent of any specific institution controlling it for us. We are fortunate at ConsenSys to be working alongside teams like uPort, that along with the rest of the Decentralized Identity Foundation, are pioneering what this will look like.

Historically, musicians have been a powerful force for inducing cultural and societal changes. We are in a position where we can pioneer with this, and not only show the music industry how this will be useful, but also to the rest of the world at large.

Along with an open licensing system and re-usable, friendly metadata standards, we hope to foster a world where artists can receive the commensurate value they are due.

We’ve been working on all of the above: not just by ourselves, but with our other fellow stalwarts in the space who are tackling the same problems. Reusability, portability, and control is in our future. We will go into these technical details in due time!

As a musician, I’m excited. I’ve kept joking with my team that if this all works like we imagine it could, I might just quit and seriously consider taking up the mantle of becoming a full-time musician! ;)

We’re very excited to share it all.

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