Singer/songwriter and Blockchain advocate Tatiana Moroz has an enthusiasm for Bitcoin that is infectious.
Even I, a longtime Bitcoin skeptic, find myself nodding in agreement as she talks about its many practical uses:
It is currently an incredibly cost-effective alternative for online music sales, especially when compared to the obscenely high transfer fees of credit cards and PayPal. That much is undeniable.
In the future, it has the potential to act as a seamless platform for online “micro-payments” to artists and creators. (Imagine automatically paying a fraction of a penny for access to this article, or to listen to your favorite songs online).
It even has the power to act as a system for managing, documenting, and even unlocking intellectual property rights that give artists some control over who profits from their work and how.
The more I talk to Tatiana about it, the more I’m reminded that my own skepticism around the long-term value of Bitcoin doesn’t come from it being a bad idea. Rather, my skepticism stems from the fact that it’s clearly a great idea.
My one fuddy-duddy concern is that, if history is any guide, being first to a great idea doesn’t mean you should bet the whole farm on it: Just ask Prodigy or AOL who had the great idea of getting regular people online. Or ask Friendster and Napster, who had the great idea of helping people form virtual social networks with their friends. Or ask Pets.com, who had the brilliant idea of selling commonly-purchased products online at a low profit margin.
All truly great ideas invite competition, and simply being first is no protection of the long-term value of any one enterprise. As more and more of the world begins to recognize that blockchain technology is one of the great innovations of the 21st century—right alongside self-driving cars and the propagation of the internet itself—dozens of useful competing platforms are destined to crop up, and perhaps drive down the price of a Bitcoin.
But I could be wrong. And for now, the open-source Bitcoin platform is the key player on the block, with its price doubling last year, making it stand out as the best-performing currency in the world in both 2015 and 2016, handily beating out the dollar, euro, ruble, yen, yuan—even gold and silver, which had a similarly dramatic run up last year, though on a smaller scale.
Skeptical as I may be, I’m credulous enough to have at least some “BTC” myself, and am currently the proud owner of two (count ’em, two) Bitcoin through a Coinbase account—easily the most mainstream and widely-trusted of the blockchain banks. (Yes, that’s a referral link that will get you some free Bitcoin if you want to try it out yourself. No, I’m not ashamed.)
In addition to the usual arguments in favor of Bitcoin, Tatiana Moroz draws attention to some special use cases, just for musicians. Recently, she has become a proponent for something called “Artist Coins”, and has decided to fund her upcoming album Keep the Faith by selling her own limited-edition currency called “Tatiana Coin” which can be redeemed for music and merch at her own online store. Think of its as crowdfunding without the fees.
Read on below, as Tatiana gives a primer on Bitcoin, and makes the case for why every musician should consider integrating it into their online stores and more.
Before we get too deep into this, I don’t want to assume that everyone knows what Bitcoins are. For the layperson, what the heck is a Bitcoin, and why would anyone want to own or use them?
When I first heard about Bitcoin, I was really overwhelmed and frankly, a little bit bored by the subject. I am not the most technical person and I couldn’t figure out why we needed this “cryptocurrency” stuff.
But soon, I realized what Bitcoin could do, and how it was the most transformative technology since the internet. I also knew it could be a very powerful tool for musicians to take control of their careers. I have a strong passion for making art active in changing our world for the better, and I love teaching people through music how technology can improve our lives.
People use the word Bitcoin to mean a number of things, but basically, a bitcoin is a global unit of digital currency, like the dollar or the euro. It can be used by anyone with internet connection, or on a really simple SMS phone.
Bitcoin is not a company or a bank—it’s a technology, like the internet. You can use it everyday to pay for things, and that’s even easier with the new Bitcoin-backed debit cards that are coming out like the ones Bitpay and Shift provide.
But underneath all that, Bitcoin is really just a secure, public network that enables you to send digital money, while also being able to store and transfer other information like assets, contracts, and titles from place to place.
It allows you to transfer value to anyone anywhere in the world in minutes and for pennies, compared to PayPal or big banks or wire transfers. You can literally send a million dollars worth of Bitcoin to someone in Africa for less than a dollar, and it would be there in an hour or two. There is no central bank or point of failure, no government in charge that can devalue your money by hitting “print”.
A lot of people think Bitcoin is anonymous, but it’s not. It can be used with a certain degree of anonymity with the right precautions, but the benefit to the network—and all of us users—is the transparency of the transactions.
Because Bitcoin transactions are out in the open on the “Blockchain”—a new type of public ledger. It can’t be tampered with, and that makes it really secure.
Since Bitcoin is a lot like cash, the most important thing to remember from a security perspective is to keep your passwords safe.
There are some online wallet services with great reputations, like Coinbase, and they can make things easier and actually help you reset your passwords if you lose them, but there are some Bitcoin fans who don’t like this approach because you’ve given a third party a lot of trust with your Bitcoins, and it’s [potentially] less secure. There’s an expression, “Not your keys, not your bitcoins”.
You make a pretty good case for it. It seems like a pretty ideal and cost-effective way to buy and sell and send money around online, even if you’re changing between currencies.
I also hear the argument that if you wanted to hold onto some Bitcoin long-term, it could maybe be a good hedge against inflation as the quantity will always be strictly limited.
I’ve been a little skeptical of that part myself, but it’s hard to deny that the price sure has been shooting up the past few years! Anyone who has taken that approach is probably doing pretty well so far.
But what are the current uses and benefits of Bitcoin for musicians specifically? And do you think there are any new uses for musicians that could emerge in the future?
Bitcoin can be really great for musicians. One easy example is for “micro-tipping”. People can’t send an artist 50 cents right now on a credit card, because unlike with Bitcoin, there are too many fees for it to make sense—Visa or MasterCard would take most of it.