Supply chain, finance and security are some of the more popular ways that Blockchain is used in the world today. Utopia music is breaking the mold by creating the world’s most comprehensive consumption and metadata service, complete with real-time analytical tools that enable artists to track, trace, and process all revenue streams.
BlockchainReporter had a conversation with Mattias Hjelmstedt, the CEO and founder of Utopia, about streaming, Blockchain and everything in between.
With the advent of streaming, the calculation of music sales and revenue became even more complicated. How can Blockchain help make sense of it all?
The calculation of music sales and revenue was already complicated long before streaming came into play. The key to making it transparent and fair is data, and data is at the core of what we do at Utopia. In this context, Blockchain is only part of the solution, but it is integral. First of all, it provides a transparent, immutable and legally-recognized record of what music has been played, how often, and by whom. That’s already a massive step up, because we now have more accurate data. The second benefit is that by using blockchain, we enable automated accounting and payment – cutting down on the admin overhead and speeding up payments.
Blockchain and crypto had for a long time been touted as a way to break the monopoly of big firms in the financial industry (and has, to an extent, done this). Do you think It can work the same magic for the music industry?
I don’t like framing what blockchain can do in terms of breaking monopolies or disrupting industries – that’s a very negative view. Our mission at Utopia is not to disrupt the industry, but to leverage technology to make the music industry more transparent, fairer and efficient. What blockchain can do, and what I believe we will see it doing in the next few years, is smoothing some of the many, many complexities the industry has evolved over the past 200 years. This will make everyone’s job easier, from the big labels to the small artists. We exist to help the music industry, not to disrupt it.
It would seem that any attempt by artists to take control of their own revenue sources is met with intense pushback by industry heavyweights. Do you ever see that changing?
There will always be tensions in the industry. It’s normal. But when we make music usage data transparent and more complete, we remove a great deal of the sources of friction and uncertainty. There’s no more estimating, no more arguments – just reliable, transparent and verified usage data.
How would it benefit an artist to make use of a platform like Utopia Music?
First, there is a financial benefit: Today, payments are lower than they should be, because the full usage of music is not properly tracked. Utopia tracks and documents music consumption at a much more detailed level, increasing the overall revenue potential of the whole industry. Further, due to outdated accounting methods it can take years for payments to come through. Utopia enables direct payment rails – meaning payments are made in hours or days. I don’t think anyone would complain about being paid more, faster.
The second part is knowledge: Utopia gives all players a previously unheard-of level of data about their music, their audience, and their sales. This means they know what their audience likes, what they want more of, and where to tour. Music may be art, but understanding the data that makes it a better business.
In general, Utopia gives all the players in the music industry more control over their own business. By providing more tools, data, and revenue streams to participants, Utopia empowers them to make the most of what they do – no matter if they’re a record label or an independent performer.
While big music artists can ‘fight the system’ (such as Jay Z and Beyoncé starting their own streaming service), what can a smaller, independent artist do?
There’s a lot more flexibility for smaller artists now. They can promote themselves via services like Soundcloud, Spotify, and YouTube, and generate an audience that way. What Utopia offers them is of course better data and payment options, but also the ability to use that data to approach bigger labels or plan their tours. It removes a lot of the guesswork from turning a passion into a business.
What does Utopia music have in store for the next year?
It’s an exciting year ahead! We’ve got a lot of ongoing discussions with the industry, and are looking forward to bringing Utopia to everyone. For more specific details, you’ll just have to keep following us!
About Mattias Hjelmstedt, CEO and Founder of Utopia Music
Mattias Hjelmstedt is CEO and Founder of Utopia Music. A serial entrepreneur, Mattias has successfully founded and sold a number of technology companies since the early 1990s. An unparalleled innovator, Mattias’s passion for combining media and tech has pushed him to help transform and build several industries including e-sports and digital TV.
Within e-sports, Mattias was one of the pioneers, designing the first social platforms for games and assisting in the creation of the software still used today to power some of the world’s largest games, including Battlefield. Unhappy with the state of the Video-on-Demand (VOD) services, Mattias was an early architect of VOD for premium film and p2p distribution. With this knowledge, Mattias was then able to successfully navigate TV’s challenging copyright landscape and help turn online TV into a global reality.
Mattias’s media career shows, above all, that he understands not only how to disrupt, innovate, and drive efficiency within established industries, but also how to create a user experience which propels growth and provides value for consumers.