Cryptocurrency has evolved a lot since the days of Bitcoin’s first launch. Although many projects aim to be digital cash, there are some that strive to bring decentralization to more creative and entertaining parts of the internet. From innovating video streaming to music services there is no shortage of projects pushing internet entertainment forward. Currently a majority of entertainment on the internet is run by only a handful of large corporations. Nobody can deny how groundbreaking Youtube was back in the day, or how Spotify helped make streaming music accessible to so many more people.
But there are a couple things we can look at when talking about the negatives like centralization and how that relates to outages and content itself. At the end of the day, the types of content that are allowed on a platform is dictated by the entity controlling it. This include monetization of content. Youtube, as an example, not too long ago started cracking down on the video topics that could or couldn’t be monetized. There were many channels that covered less mainstream topics such as true crime or otherwise scary content that could no longer make money on ads due to the nature of the content. These are just the examples that immediately come to mind.
Secondly, reliability of the network is always a potential risk. Although it happens much less now that the servers of larger platforms have evolved, this is always a risk of those platforms. If the servers go down, the platform is no longer accessible. If the servers have storage issues, content could be lost forever if creators aren’t backing up their own work. These are risks that are especially mitigated by blockchain and one of the biggest selling points right behind decentralization.
Video Streaming Services
Theta Network is currently the top media platform on blockchain. It regularly shifts between #9 and #10 on the list of most valuable projects. It serves as a video streaming platform powered by their own blockchain. Through a couple weeks of use, I’d say it competes more with Twitch than it does Youtube right now but the framework is there for both. There is one particularly interesting method the project uses to decentralize content distribution; Users can gain the TFUEL token in exchange for watching videos and donating any extra bandwidth to relay the content to other viewers. The ability to relay content also serves to boost the quality of the streams by offering multiple geographical points a viewer can get the data from. On top of the enterprise and community driven nodes, this creates a fully decentralized network that is very resistant to downtime due to blockchain’s nature.
Although the largest project, Theta is by no means the only video platform. MovieBloc is working to create a streaming service similar to Netflix. Currently it hosts a small variety of films in English, Korean, and Chinese. Since it’s a newer platform, it doesn’t have a lot to offer right now but this could change in the future as adoption grows. The platform hosts video content in pretty much any language and offers rewards to users who help translate and subtitle content. This is achieved by offering 5% of the creator’s revenue to the translators and is paid out in their MBL token or USDT. Other notable projects in this space are VideoCoin and Contentos.
Audio Streaming Services
Similarly, there are projects looking to make waves in the music streaming sector. While Spotify does pay, it historically doesn’t offer the greatest payment model and the pay is minimal. From that same link you can see the reference to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” that boasts 10.8 million streams as of 2018. It is estimated that the payout for that is only $35k. Although this isn’t an issue for larger artists like Carey, this can be troublesome for newer artists to the scene.
Audius is a Soundcloud competitor that is looking to change this. It offers content creators, anything between music and podcasts, to offer their content while still maintaining full rights to them and offering better monetization. Although it is still in its infancy and doesn’t offer amazing numbers yet, the pieces are in place to be able to earn more money through Audius. Currently 90% of the revenue from streams goes to the creator and 10% goes to the network of node operators. There isn’t a lot of information right now, but this tweet explains a little. So right now, the biggest benefit to a platform like this is an artist’s ability to self publish and retain rights to their work rather than working with labels and other middlemen. I like where Audius is currently sitting. It has a user friendly and functional UI and seems to be slowly amassing a good amount of content creators on their service including heavy hitters like Skrillex. Right now it leans heavily towards electronic music, but as it grows I see this changing over time.
Although not a streaming platform on its own, AudioCoin is trying to create a level landscape for audio content creators as far as monetization goes. They’ve partnered with Aurovine, an actual streaming service, to create a well rounded platform. Creators are paid out in AudioCoin (ADC) immediately as tracks are streamed and can earn more through sharing their content on other platforms. Fans can also earn the coin through interacting with their favorite artists. Since AudioCoin is not tied to a specific streaming service, this could be utilized by other projects in the future as well using similar models.
So having looked at that, its easy to see the ways blockchain projects can improve already established industries. Decentralization promotes a fair playing field with much more reliability and little to no service outages. A lot of the changes they are making are more for the artists benefit, I would say, but I think that is really important to getting more content creators on the platforms. As the platforms grow, user adoption will continue to grow and could eventually force the hand of the mainstream options to change their methods.
All of these projects are still very early in their development and many of them have promising roadmaps in the work. I don’t think we can count them out, but it is going to be a rough road to go down especially when it comes to getting the creators themselves onboard. But I think this sector of cryptocurrency shows a lot of promise and could very much change the way we consume content online.