Quarantine brought a lot of people to Twitch. The streaming platform has long been popular with gamers, but when the pandemic closed bars, theaters and venues around the world, the music industry—especially DJs and music producers—ran to Twitch and other streaming platforms to recreate the live music experience and maybe make a little money.
It wasn't long before the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, or the DMCA, started striking and penalizing DJs for playing copywritten songs on their livestreamed sets, and that creates larger issues for artists who want to share their work with fans around the world.
While the government is slow to action, Bitcoin activist and crypto artist Cryptograffiti offers an answer. Tonight, he unveils an open source project to benefit DJs and music producers, celebrating the 6:30 pm PDT launch with a livestreamed DJ set filmed on location at The U.S. Mint in San Francisco.
“Imagine if a producer could mint a certain number of licenses for a track as NFTs, and a platform could instantly cross-reference whether or not a DJ has the rights to play said track,” Cryptograffiti says. “This is the type of functionality I’d like to see occur with NFTs … expanding the reach of art and music while simultaneously opening the door to new means of income for creators.“
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, allow holders to authenticate ownership of a given digital asset. It's a technology that has ballooned in popularity throughout the art world, as collectors see a chance to claim ownership over digital works, and digital artists to monetize on a scale that was previously impossible.
Cryptograffiti's vision is to use this same technology to grant permission for DJs to play certain songs online, and his new plug in gives fans the opportunity to tip both the DJ and the song's original music producer with Bitcoin via a static QR code.
Currently, if a viewer tips a DJ on Twitch or another streaming platform, that money goes to the DJ and not the original producers of whatever tracks they might be playing. That's where the DMCA's protection of royalty fees comes into play.
Cryptograffiti's open-source plugin is designed to enable those tips to be instantly split, bringing micropayments to separate addresses representing the wallets of the DJ spinning their set, the writer of the song, the label that released the tune, and anyone else who might deserve a cut—if that DJ owns the NFT license for said song.
If a DJ owned an NFT license for the songs in their set, streaming platforms could potentially check this out on the backend, which also clears the song for use in any playback videos or YouTube uploads.
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Tonight's livestream is called “Strikes Twice,” a nod to this split payment plugin. Cryptograffiti is set to DJ the show, and as a demonstration of the new technology, fans can use the plugin to tip for any of the songs played, sending 10 percent of that tip to Cryptograffiti and 90 percent to the artist who made the song.
"In the future, I can see split micropayments alleviating livestream copyright takedowns," he states in a YouTube announcement. "If the platforms themselves are included in the split payments, it incentivizes continuous playback of content.
All the visuals displayed as part of the performance will also be released as NFTs on a forthcoming Bitcoin sidechain marketplace. The platform a partnership with blockchain technology company Blockstream.
The plugin works with a variety of cryptowallets including Zebedee, Blue, Zap, Zeus and Coinos. "Strikes Twice" will be streamed simultaneously via Cryptograffiti's Twitter, Twitch, Youtube, Mixcloud and Facebook.
Photography by: Cryptograffiti