The Future Of Music: Digital Everything.

Pat Lewis
4 min readApr 28, 2021

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Image by Martine Ehrhart

It almost feels that with every new day there is a new piece of technology ushered in alongside it. A new app to master and market yourself on; another platform through which to sell or distribute your music. Another weapon to wield, gaining new fans, spreading your music across the globe and putting money in the pockets of artists and industry heads alike.

We’re constantly watching the waters for the next technological tidal wave to wash over us once more, and for good reason: No other industry has been impacted by technology like the music industry.

It’s easy to see the impact that iTunes had on the music industry more than twenty years ago. More recently of course Spotify replaced old ways, did away with the physical and ushered in a new musical revolution. It’s easy to get complacent but make no mistake, the landscape is changing constantly, even now.

The future of music is clear: Digital everything.

Our music is streamed, no longer just in our recordings, but our performances too. One silver lining to come from the global pandemic of 2020 was the advent of live, online performances. Streamed straight into our homes, punters no longer have to wait in line to get a glimpse of their favourite artists. One who was quick to jump at the opportunity was Dua Lipa, whose ‘Studio 2054’ virtual performance broke online livestream records with over five million views globally. The innovative performance included over 1.9 million unique viewers from China and another 95,000 from India with 263,264 tickets sold across the regular ticketing platforms (Will Lavin 2020 — NME).

Dua Lipa performs at her live streamed performance, ‘Photo by Gareth Cattermole

With new and evolving technologies on the rise, some savvy artists are taking the next logical step in this digital direction: digital merchandise.

How, you ask? NFTs.

There has been plenty of talk of NFT’s (non-fungible tokens) over the past few months: rare, one of a kind items powered by blockchain. Gary Vaynerchuck famously touted them as the future for the next generation of sports fans and collectors, investing big into Sorare, a platform providing digital soccer collectibles in collaboration with big name teams (Tanzeer Akhtar 2021 — Coindesk). Digital artists and graphic designers are making a small fortune selling unique, one of a kind virtual artworks from their laptops and now the music industry is taking notice, with Kings of Leon making their mark as the first band to release albums as NFT’s. The revolutionary project offers three different types of NFT’s to their fans. The first is a special album package, while the second type offers live show perks like front-row seats for life, and a third is for exclusive audiovisual art (Samantha Hissong 2021 — Rolling Stone).

Whether you understand them yet or not, it’s going to be very difficult to get away from NFT’s in 2021, and with their money making potential, why would you want to?

At Emanate, an Australian startup based out of Sydney, they’ve seen the power that the NFT could bring to musicians, both as an additional revenue generator in the form of rare collectibles and trading items, but through streaming and collaboration as well. Emanate is quickly becoming a platform like no other, rewarding both musicians and music lovers like never before. Emanate teamed up with Deadmau5 back in December 2020 to release a line of unique digital artworks, based around the iconic mouse head Deadmau5 adorns on stage and across his album covers. Sold online like a pack of baseball cards, each contains an assortment of ten different artworks of different rarities. It should be no surprise that all six thousand of these packs have sold out. The artworks contained within are now a prized piece of digital merchandise for the die hard Deadmau5 fans, while some are back in circulation, being swapped and sold in online marketplaces with some rare cards selling for up to nine hundred dollars each. Deadmau5 knows all too well the value of NFT’s, profiting not just on the initial sale of the packs but on every re-sale as well. Each time an NFT is swapped or sold, a royalty is paid out to the artist, consistently creating revenue through genuine engagement.

The benefits to the entire community are certain: Artists have a new opportunity to profit from and deliver a piece of unique merchandise to their fans, either on the back of a release or to promote a tour. It can also be used as a method to keep themselves in the periphery of their fanbase, who are eager to snatch up some rare merchandise from their favourite artists. The fans know they’ve got a one of a kind piece of artwork that directly supports the artist which, even if they do decide to sell on, still brings revenue to the artist.

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