The current music royalty, distribution and valuation system is broken, in both a topical and fundamental way. Independent artists are struggling both financially and from an idealistic stand point. The huge decrease in touring revenue seen during the pandemic has only highlighted the dependency of electronic artists on performing, as opposed to making, music. Yes, it has been a tough few years but the issues faced by artists go deeper.
Streaming is not trickling further down the pecking order, favouring bigger grossing pop acts with the majority of its income. Vinyl releases are becoming increasingly unaffordable and hard to manage with upwards of 8 months manufacturing times. Digital releases have no identity, little value and stay too often in an online limbo.
There has been enough time to think over these fault lines over the past year, the result is Autonomies, a platform to buy and sell audio digital collectibles.
Autonomies proposes an alternative platform for the discovery of new digital music. For us, small may well be beautiful, independence means strength and cooperation may well trump competition. People “like us” have been moaning from the side lines regarding music technology innovations, meaning we have left it to the big guys to take control.
This is a case of politics through practice:
- We are not a company, we are a collective, building a DAO: (Digital Autonomous Organization). The DAO structure is only possible through blockchain and is the modern incarnation of a long tradition of cooperative working. All contributors to, and people that interact with, the platform will derive value and governance in it.
- We are a community: through a more incarnate relation between artist and fans and a stronger interaction between builders and users. Autonomies is collaborative. We may all have a different way to use the platform but we all get involved in the project. Hence Autonomies being one voice(s): building a common good without being monolithic.
- We actively promote diversity: Autonomies rejects tokenization in favour of access and participation.
- We actively promote education: The web 3.0 landscape can be scary, intimidating and confusing. We want to normalise the access to the decentralised web for all.
- We support Universal Creative Income (UCI): We consider ourselves to be an ever evolving experiment in community ownership. We are already mapping out the integration of a UCI that distributes a ‘platform’ fee to all contributors.
Thoughts in action, these values are embodied in the functionalities of the platform themselves.
NFTs have been a quick cash grab for some, a way of showing off for others. But blockchain technology itself has a lot to offer to independent artists and labels. To keep it simple, an NFT is an asset that can be stored in a crypto wallet. In the case of Autonomies, this asset proves ownership and allows for the download and reselling of an audio file.
We generate value for creators by enabling the following:
- Digital Scarcity: NFTs sold through Autonomies will have a limited run (set by the uploader) but will not be sold through auction. Think of them as a limited edition vinyl.
- Exclusivity: NFTs sold on Autonomies won’t be sold anywhere else, that’s the only exclusivity we ask for.
- Simplicity: Autonomies will propose a simple flow to buy and sell. You just need a Metamask wallet. The platform will use Onramper for easy FIAT to crypto conversion.
- Creative freedom: the NFT has to be music based (an audio file) but it can include other digital objects: a poster to print, a link to a private stream performance, a QR code to pick up a physical object from a chosen shop etc.
- Individual royalty splits: the uploader will choose the royalty split rules . You can decide to give X % to a featuring artist or to a charity. The split happens at point of sale of the file on the platform
- Transparency: blockchain technology means nothing can be hidden. The royalty split rules will be visible by the buyer meaning they have full transparency.
- Instant payouts: the blockchain also means that those rules will be applied the instant a file is bought by a collector.. No need to wait for your funds.
- A fair resale system: as releases are limited, there is a secondary market for these files. “A royalty” is determined by the uploader. Every time the NFT is resold, the artist will get a share of the resale unlike the second hand vinyl market).
- Direct support & communication: NFTs can also be a new, more clever way of crowdfunding and a new communication channel between artists and their fans.
- Synchronicity: Autonomies complements the physical release system. An NFT can be an extra asset in your release plan, a way to increase exposure, to bring value and control back to the digital realm.
- A commitment to eco-friendly solutions: Autonomies will constantly look for NFT solutions that have the least impact on the environment.
Our goal is to build a universal record shop for digital audio files. No algorithm (the wall will have a shuffle function) but curation, individuality not anonymity, creativity not uniformisation. The digital output of electronic artists has an intrinsic value, the commerce of it should be exciting as much as fair. Autonomies will generate a revenue stream but will also involve artists & collectors in the promotion of a common idea. No matter how small the start, it's time to take matters into our own hands.