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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

PayPal for Punks: Blockchain for DIY music

Soden, Simeon (2021) PayPal for Punks: Blockchain for DIY music. Doctoral thesis, University of Sunderland.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)


This research investigated how music organisations and practitioners may use blockchain to distribute, compose, present and perform music. The research aimed firstly to explore the features of blockchain and ascertain potentially favourable characteristics when compared to existing music distribution methods. Secondly it aimed to consider the operational contexts of the DIY musician, small and large organisation (i.e. the partner organisation, Sage Gateshead). This informed the development of novel practical applications. This included a record label and live music events, representing real-world use cases of blockchain technology (unique in academic literature surrounding blockchain and music at this time). This resulted in examples of website and Ethereum smartcontract code (themselves constituting original knowledge) developed iteratively across several participatory projects. Data was gathered from participants to evaluate the success and form conclusions relating to blockchain in music practice. It was found that blockchain offers benefits in payment processing compared to established methods including: potentially reduced processing fees; potential removal of intermediaries; quicker payment; and automation of complex accounting processes including apportioning royalties in collaborative work with smartcontracts. However, blockchain technology has inherent disadvantages including: lack of wider familiarity among audiences; low demand for music accessed this way; extreme volatility in value and hoarding behaviour of cryptocurrency holders; and issues relating to scalability. Therefore it is not practical at this time to operate solely on the blockchain. It was also concluded that the discourse surrounding it is often lacking in veracity. The technology shows most potential in direct-to-fan selling and in ticketing of music performance live streams, with most benefit for DIY musician and small organisations. The opensource nature of the technology further decentralises „direct-to-fan‟ practices allowing practitioners and organisations to develop their own webstores and facilitates novel live-performance paradigms, affording new monetisation strategies that suit the nature of streamed live music.

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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Depositing User: Leah Maughan


Item ID: 13600

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Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2021 13:42
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2021 09:22


Author: Simeon Soden

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