The entertainment industry is grappling with numerous challenges, with the writers’ and actors’ strikes this year standing as a clear sign that the current model is not sustainable. However, blockchain technology could be the key to addressing these challenges, potentially saving the industry billions of dollars.
According to Leo Matchett, co-founder and chief executive of the Decentralized Pictures Foundation, “the blockchain has the potential to revolutionize the entertainment industry. It can help create a more transparent and equitable industry, and it can also connect fans with their favorite artists in new and innovative ways.”
This isn’t a superficial statement for Matchett. With more than 20 years of experience as a software developer and film producer, he is spearheading efforts at the company co-owned by director Roman Coppola, whose father, the Oscar-winning director Francis Ford Coppola, is a household name.
To understand the scope of this potential change, it’s crucial to comprehend what blockchain technology is. At its core, the blockchain comprises blocks of data, similar to a bank ledger that records transactions. It’s secure, transparent and immutable, meaning that transactions are irreversible once they happen. This concept has its benefits and downsides, which are continually being explored and addressed as the technology evolves and advances.
Blockchain technology extends beyond the headlines about FTX or NFT pyramid schemes. This technology could be a game-changer for the entertainment industry in six ways: by curbing piracy, addressing fraud, boosting declining revenues, creating new funding methods, seamlessly tracking royalties and securing an equitable and sustainable future.
Blockchain can counter piracy in several ways. It can create a secure and transparent record of digital content ownership, simplifying the process of tracking and prosecuting pirates. Furthermore, blockchain can implement digital rights management systems, which complicate the copying or distribution of copyrighted material without authorization.
Additionally, blockchain technology can combat fraud in several ways. It can establish a secure and transparent record of transactions, making it harder for fraudsters to counterfeit tickets and other products. Consumers can verify the origins of a ticket and confirm its authenticity. Additionally, blockchain can facilitate the implementation of smart contracts. These self-executing contracts automate payments and other transactions, making it more challenging for fraudsters to commit theft. Ticketmaster and Sports Illustrated have already adopted blockchain as a solution to these issues.
The entertainment industry is experiencing declining revenues, due in part to the rise of streaming services, the fall of traditional media outlets and the implosion of advertising.
Justin Alanis, chief executive of StoryCo, a blockchain-based entertainment platform, has been testing ways to connect creators and fans through his company. He believes that “blockchain technology… can create new revenue streams, such as the sale of digital collectibles or nonfungible tokens and reduce costs by eliminating the need for intermediaries like record labels and distributors.”
Blockchain can create innovative funding methods for the entertainment industry. For example, blockchain-based crowdfunding platforms allow fans to invest in their favorite artists and projects.
Josh Frazin, co-founder of Hollywoodland, believes that “this can provide much-needed financial support for creative projects, and it can also give fans a sense of ownership in the success of their favorite artists.”
Filmmaker Sherry McCracken, who became interested in smart contracts in 2018, has been all in ever since. She founded the Web3 film studio, Never Alone Xperience, as a way to make the world a better place for filmmakers and creators. Community members can participate in everything from supporting a project through funding to voting on what script should be made.
Blockchain can be used to track royalties for artists and creators. This can ensure that artists are paid fairly for their work and help reduce fraud. Blockchain-based platforms can track the ownership of digital content and automate the distribution of royalties to the rightful parties.
This could be an effective solution for tracking the use of your work or likeness by AI, or the amount of plays your show gets across various streaming platforms.
SoundXYZ is an excellent example for the music industry, allowing artists to mint their songs as NFTs, creating a unique and valuable asset that can be sold or traded directly to their fans.
Mike Musante, co-founder of Decentralized Pictures, and a seasoned film producer, is optimistic about “the potential to make the entertainment industry more transparent and equitable.” He also commented on the industry’s current opacity, noting, “it’s difficult for fans to know where their money is going or how their data is being used. Blockchain can change that.”
Despite the promising potential, issues such as complexity, cost and regulation limit the evolution of this technology and its scalability. As Californians, at the center of entertainment and technology, we must do all we can to create an environment that allows this technology to flourish. That includes folks at the ground level working to help educate on blockchain, all the way up to our elected officials, who we are relying on to create a sound regulatory environment for blockchain technology. Working together to harness this technology, we have the opportunity to change the future of entertainment.
Shira Lazar is the founder of What’s Trending, an online publication covering viral content across the social web with an emphasis on entertainment and digital culture.