The digital tsunami dramatically transformed this straightforward concept of music ownership. Physical entities gave way to digital formats, leading to a profound upheaval in the music industry due to rampant piracy. Digital music files could be endlessly duplicated and disseminated widely, without any degradation in quality, thereby triggering a global crisis in the music industry.
Each stage has changed our relationship with music and artists. And as we're entering the web3 era, we're setting a renewed paradigm of ownership.
Physical Formats Equaled Full Ownership
In the era preceding the digital revolution, music ownership was closely tied to physical support. Vinyl records, cassettes, and CDs were cherished artifacts that embodied a personal connection between the listener and the music. The ability to collect, hold, touch, and display these physical formats offered a sense of ownership and connection to the music, augmenting the overall listening experience. You could listen to it as much as you wanted, display the artwork, and resell or give it away. Physical music allowed tangible connection and enjoyment.
DRM: The Checkmate to Digital Music Ownership
The MP3 revolution made music intangible. Digital stores like iTunes made purchasing songs incredibly convenient. But this came with a catch - you didn't actually own the file.
DRM (digital rights management) restrictions limited what you could do with the music. You couldn't freely copy or transfer digital files. Platform closures also meant losing access. Digital music brought accessibility at the cost of true ownership.
To counteract piracy and protect the integrity of digital music, Digital Rights Management (DRM) was instated. When you procure a song from digital music marketplaces such as the iTunes Store, you're essentially purchasing a license granting you the permission to listen to the music under a strict set of stipulations, not the actual music file itself. The DRM introduces constraints on how the digital music file can be utilized. For instance, it prohibits copying, distributing, or modifying the file. This measure not only safeguards the rights of the artist but also drastically restricts the ownership for the consumer.
Back to music collectibles with NFTs
Blockchain technology has given rise to NFTs (non-fungible tokens) that can grant full ownership of digital music. When you buy an NFT of a song or album, the unique token becomes yours.
Your ownership is indelibly registered on blockchain ledgers. This enables you to enjoy lifetime access and transfer rights. NFTs give fans real ownership again and let artists earn from their creations.
For both fans and artists, music NFTs provide clear advantages over any other formats:
- Scarcity and verifiable ownership
- Ability to resell/trade the music you invested in
- Flexible integrations and permanent access
- Direct support of artists
- Community belonging from limited editions
The Future of Music Collecting
Music consumption has undergone massive changes in a short timespan. As music NFT adoption grows, fans can reconnect with ownership. Artists can also realize new revenue streams and sustainability. This next era will redefine how we collect, experience and engage with music.