We’re building a home for artists that allows them to own and control their creative content and be paid directly for sharing their musical talents with the world.

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The Problem

In Summer 2015, we launched TheProblem.wtf in order to ignite a conversation regarding inefficiencies in the music industry. This triggered discussions exploring frictions between publishers, labels, PROs, legislators, DSPs, artists, and fans. It became clear that the existing pipes were too inflexible to keep up with the creative content explosion caused by the internet. Armed with this realization, we set out to rethink what an open music industry would look like on the blockchain.

Tiny Human

To demonstrate the power of blockchain technology, we worked with singer-songwriter Imogen Heap to release her song Tiny Human on the Ethereum blockchain. Debuting in October 2015, the prototype allowed users to purchase licenses to download, stream, remix, and sync the song. Each payment was automatically split on the blockchain and sent directly to Imogen and each of her collaborators.

The demo explored how music on the blockchain could look and illuminated the importance of four central topics:

  • How a decentralized platform can give artists greater ownership over their creations
  • How greater transparency can promote and incentivize efficient systems
  • How direct licensing on the blockchain can improve collaboration
  • How digital currency can be used to enable instant payments among fans, artists, and service providers

The Future

Today, an artist’s identity is thinly spread across many online music services. These platforms are walled-off and disconnected, making it difficult for innovators to access information that could be used to create services that allow fans to experience music in new ways. Ujo takes a different approach by building an open music ecosystem on the Ethereum blockchain. The blockchain provides a shared infrastructure for all music services so they can focus on providing value to their users. The shared infrastructure also supplies a basis for persistent artist identity. Artists own and control their works, and can frictionlessly migrate to and from services.

A neutral backbone would be greatly beneficial for the music industry; however, adoption remains a challenge. To ignite the movement, we are building a fundamental service which is non-existent in the industry today: an artist-owned homepage. With this critical component, we can empower artists with direct payments, a closer connection to fans, and a home for their music that is wholly owned - not rented from online music services. This is just the first step in bringing to life a fair and healthy music industry fit for the digital age.


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