Zimrii Music Plans to Use Blockchain to Change The Music Industry
Imagine this. You’re an independent musician who recently dropped out of college because your first single reached 1,000,000 plays on Spotify. When you check your bank account, though, you realize you’ve only made $7,000 in a year from the track’s success. You know that’s not nearly enough to secure studio space to make new music, go on tour, and sustain a living. Your musical aspirations begin to teeter. What do you do?
Mo Jalloh and Paolo Gava of Australian startup, Zimrii Music, believe they have a solution. It’s a cloudy and wet June day as they stroll into the cozy downstairs of a Coffee Shop in Sydney’s Ultimo area. Jalloh, from the UK, orders a cappuccino, Gava a macchiato, an indicator of his Italian roots. I ask the pair, why try and reshape the music industry?
Jalloh removes his sports coat, adjusts his Apple Watch, and takes a cautious sip of his steaming cappuccino. “I’ve got a few friends who are in Music. I don't play music, but I love it. So I understand their frustrations in terms of making it in the music industry,” he says.
They are a team of just two attempting to build a startup platform called Zimrii Music that they feel can completely alter the landscape of the music industry. It’s evident that caffeine and collaboration are Jalloh and Gava’s lifeblood these days. Both have bags under their eyes.
“Historically, over the years, the artists have suffered in terms of new technology coming into music in terms of how much influence and rewards they gain from their creations,” Jalloh continues as he responds to my initial question.
The introduction of streaming has yielded extraordinary ease of access for consumers, however, it has also forfeited profits for artists. This has occurred thanks to the opaque rules for music copyright and royalties associated with music streaming. Paolo and Mo believe there is a technology out there that can be harnessed to fix this.
With a degree in accounting from The Manchester Metropolitan University, Mo handles the business side of operations. Dressed in a modest button down and trousers, Paolo’s role in Zimrii is to construct the visions that he and Mo theorized when they met. “I met Mo and we started to talk about blockchain in the music industry. How we could merge this new technology to improve the music industry,” he said.
For those who have no idea what blockchain is, don’t worry, it’s a relatively new and confusing innovation.
The Blockchain is the fuel to virtual currencies such as Bitcoin’s fire. It is what allows virtual transactions to be facilitated without a 3rd party institution’s involvement. Bitcoin users called miners sort through ledgers of bitcoin payments to create a chronological and transparent chain of transactions. An official ledger is formed after transactions are verified by numerous miners around the world.
Nathan Water co-founder of SydEthereum, explained how the blockchain technology can improve the music industry with platforms such as Zimrii. “Decentralized file storage will allow music to be stored across distributed networks and delivered at near zero cost with no middlemen, no company sitting in the middle taking a fee,” he said. That profit will return to the artists.
Zimrii’s core feature, called Smart Contracts, will facilitate this process. Creators will be able to upload everything that underlies their musical compositions (notes, melodies, lyrics, etc.) and the track itself to Zimrii’s database as a smart contract. Each time any aspect of the contract is purchased, performed, or sampled, the blockchain network will automatically verify and execute the contract. With this, Jalloh says, “The artists will be able to see profits immediately rather than having to wait 6 months or so to actually see those copyright royalties.”
The goal is for this to alter the industry standard today where songwriters such as Rick Nowels, who has written for pop sensations such as Dido and Lana Del Rey, see little in royalties for the music they create. “Streaming has destroyed the income a songwriter makes from a song,” he said.
Zimrii will perform other functions such as smart contracts to expedite payments between live music venue owners and artist crowd funding. Fans will be able to invest in the rights of music by the artists and bands they love. Similar to a typical stock, if the music explodes, the value of the rights the fan owns will increase. Jalloh and Gava believe this will retain the personal connection between fans and artists that have been lost in the digital era of music consumption.
What’s more, though, is Zimrii’s potential to give back artists the ownership and control over the music they create. That way, instead of that independent musician giving up they're career because of insufficient funds, he or she may be able to continue making music for a living.