One stream for all

There’s a very interesting development concerning the music streaming scene. It’s brought forward by musician and engineer (the only female artist to have won a Grammy for engineering) Imogen Heap, subject of a long and exhaustive article on yesterday’s Guardian. She calls it Mycelia, and it’s not a new service, and neither a new idea: I’ve personally expressed exactly the same concept over 10 years ago, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone. But of course I could imagine the benefits of such technology, I knew one day it would have been feasible but I had no other clue. The idea is simple: now that streaming is becoming the norm, each music file should be published in a single copy (at maximum quality, I think), kept safe online together with all the relevant informations and metadata (cover, credits, lyrics, etc.). Any streaming service (or anyone else, for that matter, perhaps even private users) authorized to stream that song, can do so from that one source. This way, everything would be crystal clear.

How are they doing it? Using a technology (developed by a work group named Ethereum) called blockchain, originally developed for Bitcoin. It “allows people to create immutable, public transaction records. The problem with digital records is that they can be copied and so are not really owned by anyone. Borrowing the idea from the digital currency bitcoin, Ethereum records information on a public database in a chronological way that prevents copying, tampering, fraud or deletion. It’s a new anonymous, decentralised, uncensored internet, and a new way of controlling and storing digital information.”

In my opinion this would be a major breakthrough in solving the old and still problematic relationship between the Internet and Music. Moreover, it would finally be a radical departure from the brick and mortar models of music distribution that still dominate the digital market (stores, purchases, radio stations, etc.), a conceptual skeuomorphism that should have been gone years ago. Good news, for a change.

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