In 2013, Swamp music was originally created as a safe space for music artists to explore new ideas and passions, ones which weren’t restricted to the ‘formulas’ that most big record labels try to enforce onto their artists.
And so it feels like a natural evolution for us to move into the blockchain and decentralized spaces to try to shake things up a bit with our existing in-house knowledge on publishing digital media and tracking royalties for that media.
In the decentralized/blockchain space, pretty much anyone who has been there a while would tell you it’s sort of a ‘wild west’ and that you should be careful. We are in agreement here, and think that it’s important for the developer teams and companies working in the space to build safe solutions for real people and not just try to capitalize on the next hype train to turn a quick buck.
So far, our experience in the space has been closer to the latter than the former, so we decided to start making moves to enhance the state of the technology and the experience for media producers and consumers engaging on decentralized platforms.
Scams in the music industry:
Spotify revenue stats:
•More than 365 million active monthly users on Spotify
•More than 165 million of these monthly users pay for Spotify Premium
•Spotify’s quarterly revenue in the first quarter of 2019 was more than 1.8 billion euros.
•Gross profit in the first quarter of 2020 was 472 million euros with an operating loss of 17 million
•The amount that a stream is worth to an artist is low, with estimates being as low as $0.00318 per stream
The effect that Covid had on economies and small business world-wide is unquestionable…
But few working professionals were hit harder than musicians, who essentially relied on their touring income to make ends meet (as the media sales by this point have all but dropped away). Many small and medium musicians have had to get other jobs instead of relying solely on their crafts.
Conversely, we have seen a surge in podcast and streaming consumption, media companies turning record profits, and the musicians getting fractions of pennies.
At the same time, the decentralization movement has been pushing ever forward, and now seems like the best time to bring up the discussion about music.
There are many technologies in the blockchain space which lend themselves to industry by means of inherent immutability and traceability. This is beginning to be utilized almost everywhere in industry behind the scenes where manufacturers are testing private blockchains, blockchain supply chain networks, blockchain doc control systems, etc.
We have been searching for a solution to integrate ‘our world’ with the blockchain space for some time, but until recently the high gas fees and barriers to entry have been an impeding factor for many 'regular businesses'.
This is where Ergo comes into play.
After many months of research into the decentralized space, we decided that Ergo was the optimal network to build on for their built-in trust, transparency, developer activity and access, sub-classes of cryptographic proofs (sigma protocols for self governing / autonomous systems) and cheap network fees. We think that Ergo is the strongest blockchain technology in the space right now and it's only growing bigger and better with all of the teams and projects currently building on it, even during 'the crypto winter'.
### Rights / royalties management in the NFT space
Royalties are limited to basic resale condition royalties or management of rights and royalties on specific layer two platforms. Once you mint an NFT, there is the option to set the 'royalty' percentage, which is just the % amount of the resale value the original maker expects to be paid upon resale of the work. Compared to current media licensing rights abilities this is fairly primitive.
There is no present solution native to layer 1 which allows for collaborative works between multiple artists, or multiple works from the same artist in one pack. Full albums of works can be multiple files, and include both audio and visual art - indicating that in its present state, the music NFT requires a layer two solution to organize album-based NFT music content. This is not an optimal solution in our eyes as it adds layers of complexity to the process of distribution and royalties management.
Generally if you say the terms P2P and Music in the same sentence, it would be referring to piracy. There are smaller players in the space who are exploring P2P based streaming solutions, but most have proven extremely difficult because of DRM licensing & DMCA.
To make a truly P2P system work for music, there needs to be incentivization on both ends (music and listener).
When you buy music, do you own it? You might have the physical disc in your hands, but do you really own the music? The answer is a resounding NO from the rights management organizations, who maintain that whoever submits the tracks to the rights organizations owns the music.
In most cases, the owners of the music end up being the record labels or publishing platforms, not the musicians or the fans.
We think there is a way to change this, using DeFi to connect the musicians directly with their fans to create systems of value.
The audio NFT industry is presently limited to existing AuctionHouse platforms who focus on artwork listing auctions in a style similar to eBay.
There is no real well designed or developed solution which exists primarily for audio/music/stem content, so that is where our first focus is for developing tools in the NFT space.
The tools we’re building aim to close the gap a bit when it comes to fans and music makers, and to remove the barriers to entry into the decentralized space so that musicians and fans alike can have easy and safe access to creative projects hosted on the blockchain. To do this, we are developing new NFT minting schemas, creating custom middleware to interact with the blockchain by using flat-file ‘database-less’ content management systems, and creating some value generation and royalty tracking tools for our own roster and anyone who wants to adopt the open-source standard for groups of works.
Musicians and artists need to know where their media is being consumed, it helps them build internal value and helps them better direct their future efforts. By having traceability on the media consumption you also enable a chain of royalties which can go back to that artist, the two systems should work hand in hand and not allow a company to extract 90+% of the transaction value generated between the artist and the listener.
By creating tools which are completely workable on layer one, or as a DIY layer 2, we are aiming to enable a future where musicians can flip the script and receive most of or all of what the music fan paid to hear it.
Fortunately, we have an existing expertise in the space of monetization and IP traceability. By creating the framework early on, we hope to set a standard in music publishing in the non-fungible space which can be easily adopted by private organizations and large rights organizations, once they decide to start enforcing in the decentralized space (eventually, they will.)
As a DAO, the publishing platform will have dashboards for both musicians and fans alike.
• Fans will be able to stake liquidity to specific musicians
• Fans will be able to stake liquidity to a DAO Royalty pool for APY on streaming media from legacy platforms
• By directly supporting and engaging with the musicians, fans can receive special content drops such as first adopter NFT media
• Musicians will be able to create Patreon-like fundraisers or subscriptions using Ergo
• Musicians will be able to mint NFT content directly in the platform
• Musicians will have the option to self distribute their media or to stake their media to the royalty pool
• Stakeholders will be incentivized to promote and share musicians they are invested into
• Musicians will be incentivized to consistently put out quality work to keep engagement with fans and LPs
• Musicians will be able to interact with eachother and collaborate on the platform
• Fans will be able to interact with eachother and create playlists and fundraisers
Our entire framework developed for smart contracts, NFT minting schemas, and web content system / starter-kit will be open sourced so that any artist, musician, podcaster, label, publisher or even rights organization can adopt the framework.
Our goals are to make tools which are easy to use and easily adoptable and make them public. We can see only good things come from this for the Ergo and Music communities and the world at large.
Swamp.audio itself will remain a media publisher, but turning into a DAO.
• Musicians can distribute music both to legacy platforms while giving the options to bridge into the decentralized publishing space using the tools we build into our platform.
• Musicians can directly connect with their listers in a grassroots way to build organic fanbases and systems of wealth between them and their investors.
• Musicians can meet and collaborate with other musicians directly on the platform, with royalty tracking built in.
In the NFT industry's current state, people who make samples, loops, stems, 3D assets, etc would all tell you that 'We need a folder or archive to display or sell the work.' To buy an audio sample pack of 50 samples as NFTs, the customer would need to make 50 purchases.
This is not an ideal solution for content creators or the customers of that media.
At the same time, it is inherintly unsafe to allow hosting of unverified contents ZIP or RAR file archives on a service like IPFS / blockchain.
This is why we need to create something better, and we think we have a way.
We believe that by creating a new framework for NFT content packing on the layer-1 that NFT artists everywhere will have a new dimension to explore by creating heirarchies and groups of works. Some theoretical use cases of that would be: in-game NFT treasure chests containing all NFT items, where the chest is a parent NFT and the objects inside are child NFTs. This may sound easy by using a layer 2, but the idea is to remove the layer two if we can, so that the creators of the media have full power over the organization and distribution.
Swamp.audio will continue to be a music and media publisher, but moving into the DAO space and becoming both community driven and transparent with all payments and fees.
There will be in-built fees for minting media through our platform, as well as available subscriptions for higher levels of traceability on monetized media and even legal representation of the work against unfair use.
Legacy platform distribution requires legacy banking infrastructure, so the DAO will co-operate with Swamp Music LLC to officiate payouts from the fiat revenue to the artists. As this requires more infrastructure and tax overhead, we will be charging a fee to distribute to legacy platforms, or we will offer the musician to 'stake' the work with the royalties pool to distribute at no cost to them, where the pool provides that upfront investment. If the musician stakes their work to the pool there will be a smart contract written to dictate the time which that media is locked into the 'release agreement', based on the cost to produce and distribute the work, and then the up front investment is paid back to the pool by streams and sales on legacy platforms.
All fiat payout statistics from legacy platforms will be made public, and automated directly into our own system using their APIs. This is another reason it is important that our web CMS framework stays open source.
The pool itself will have its own Utility Token, TeraHertz (THz) which can be utilized within the system and in future in-person events at music festivals featuring the publisher roster via guerilla marketing efforts and collaboration with festival vendors & organizers.
As we continue to focus on building tools and functional frameworks in the space, we will be equally focused on the user experience and the customer driven approach to build the customer base and increase APY revenue for stakeholders. It is important to know that in this system both the musician and the fan will be able to access the royalty payouts system by staking either media or by staking an adequate value of THz.
- June IDO with Ergopad
- Continue work integrating ergo node / graphQL explorer and developing our layer 1/layer 2 framework.
- Complete musician and fan dashboards and allow limited beta testing
- Finish all middleware flows from web CMS (laravel) to blockchain.
- Launch fundraiser system for artists on platform
- Smart contracts needed for minting flows and DAO functions
- Provide finished platform source code open-source on github
- Setup Trust to manage Fiat revenue from legacy platforms
- Open up musicians area closed sign up
- Open up beta for music fans access
- Smart contracts for more advanced traceability
- Begin work on IPFS streaming player app
- Yearly revenue/tax report - 1.5% of net profits to go to Charity (which charity chosen by DAO, the donation % is set and can be voted upon by the DAO but never be less than 1%)
- Create functionality to allow musicians to create 'learning courses' to teach and earn revenue.
- Create laravel starter kit for easy install for DIY publishers
- Begin integration of AI tools to allow more in depth collaboration and media production through the platform
- Begin integration of web-based DAW (digital audio workstation)
- New years party for LP holders to celebrate music featuring Hennesey Sound System
Token name: TeraHertz (THz)
THz token holders can stake their THz and receive RIGHTS-LP tokens in exchange - by doing so they will be staking into the royalty payout system in direct proportion to the value staked.
Founder of Swamp.audio -- aKa Liquid_Phase
A data-driven, self-made data-systems architect who has an exceptional ability to address deficits and build processes from the ground up.
He provides proven methodologies which promote both sustained growth and consistency that scales with the organization.
Integrating history from a wide array of enterprise roles, mostly in the Information Technology and Industrial Processing sectors, and acting with mission-driven integrity and a passion for improving quality of life through science and technology.
Michael has created Quality Control, Traceability, and Document Control systems which have been certified as ISO-9001:2015 compliant (intrinsicly safe/redundant systems for control and tracking of objects and media across large organizations and multiple locations) for major equipment manufacturers.
He is a hobbyist musician who takes the technical and engineering aspects of music production seriously, having come from a family who worked in the Audio Industry manufacturing speakers and DSP equipment as white-label OEM for major brands.
"Storytelling, both with words and images, has been a passion and natural talent of mine since I was a child.
By embracing both creativity and data/analytics, I’ve helped companies such as ConstantContact, Live Nation, [StubHub](https://ryan-conklin.squarespace.com/#/stubhub-work/), and [Ebay](https://ryan-conklin.squarespace.com/#/ebay/), and many more stand out more from competitors with innovative digital experiences. I believe that it's more impactful to invite customers into the brand experience, and by doing so, have the customer want to invite our brand into their own story."
Full Stack dev & Music Producer
Alex is a Software Engineer with a degree in Technocultural Studies from the University of California, Davis. He's most interested in the intersection of technology with art, culture and science. His career experience includes building server side APIs with Java/Spring, Node/Express, Python/Flask and Ruby on Rails in addition client side applications using React and Redux. He also writes & produces music under the name Spoken Bird.
Although all measures will be taken to stay autonomous, transparent and risk-free, there is inherint risk in the decentralized and blockchain spaces.
We encourage you to ask challenging questions and do your own research when it comes to all claims made about our platform or from anyone who represents it. We also encourage you to do the same with Ergo, and you will probably see why we are using it as our network of choice.
As robust and transparent as Ergo is for a blockchain network, we are still in the infancy of decentralization and there is much room to grow.