Recently, I discovered the Tao Network, an artist-centric blockchain platform for music distribution. This left me with the desire to know it better, especially because it benefits indie artists like ourselves. The best I could do was to interview, its founder, Mr. Bryce Weiner. Read everything below! You’ll learn a lot about this interesting project.
1 – Are you a musician, or just a business man?
I’m not a musician, but my friends are musicians or in the business of music. I’m surrounded by it. What I do was born from conversations with my friends about how the technology I work with, blockchains, could help them in their work.
2 – What do you like and dislike about today’s music industry?
I like that people feel passionate about how the business of music works. Artists are artists. Not all of them are business savvy and not all of them want to be, and that’s okay. Art is about following you passions. We set out to build those systems that artists desperately want and need to help them do what they love. We designed a system that could satisfy the needs of artists like Taylor Swift and Aloe Blocc, as well as those yet undiscovered artists still honing their craft.
3 – In short words, what is the Tao Network?
The Tao Network is a way for artists to establish provenance for their creations no matter at what level of the game they are playing. If you wrote a song, sang on a track, or engineered an album, you’ll be able to prove it if it’s imported into the Tao Network.
4 – How the idea of the Tao Network came about?
The idea came about from listening to musicians and those in the business of music complain about their jobs, quite frankly. I recognized that blockchain technology was the right solution for everything they were talking about and decided I wanted to help in a very real way.
5 – Are you a big fan of Chinese philosophies?
I am. I have several Chinese tattoos and I follow the advice of a Zen master who lives in Uruguay. He watches what I do and sends me riddles to unfold as I go through my work. He is as much of this network as those of us who are developing it.
6 – Why is this project the best option for indie artists?
We level the playing field. If an indie artist gets discovered their whole catalog of masters can easily be imported into the publishing administration systems used by the majors, including all of their downloads, streams, and metadata. When fully developed it will be a set of tools to establish provenance and authenticity of your art, all the way down to the split sheets.
7 – What major challenges and problems did you face when starting the project?
Music catalogs are like gold. The hardest thing we had to do was build those relationships where someone would trust us with their gold. Blockchain technology is born from cryptography, which is at the heart of current DRM systems. It took over a year of getting to know and trust each other before we arrived at this point.
8 – How many artists have joined the Tao Network nowaday?
To be honest, I haven’t stopped to count. The response has been a little overwhelming and our team is starting to build that infrastructure to be able to make ourselves accessible to everyone.
9 – How can you describe the meaning of “blockchain”?
A blockchain is a unique way to store data based on special cryptographic operations. It has three components that make it a unique. The first is that the data is transactional, meaning that it is stored in a specific order in time. One can move the data in a blockchain in a linear fashion, forwards and backwards, as one would shuttle a music track.
The second is that it is immutable, which means that the data itself can be governed by the software to be cryptographically secured and verified. The third is that the data can be tokenized, which means that a large amount of data can be connected together and then assigned to an individual. That individual may then “trade” that data with others, potentially on an open market. For the music industry, this means entirely new aftermarkets for digital content that have never before been possible without getting sued. ReDigi is a great service, but it is inherently flawed. The Tao Network allows for services like ReDigi to operate within the law.
10 – Have you ever witnessed a serious corrupt case in the music industry?
Not in the music industry, but I have in the financial industry which is where I have been for the last few years. I have served as an expert witness in a prosecution for theft using the Bitcoin blockchain which lead to an arrest and conviction. That individual was also subsequently found guilty of raping several women and will be spending the next 11 years in prison. The power of this technology to provide transparency should not be underestimated.
11 – Do you support the use of bitcoins? Why is it so polemic?
Bitcoin is to play a vital role in royalty settlements for the Tao Network. Tao is a protocol which is designed to serve the needs of the music industry, but does so in a way which that information generated may then be monetized. Bitcoin is the way that the network is monetized because it’s not priced directly in US dollars or another fiat currency. Artists don’t want Tao or Bitcoin… they want cash. We are working with businesses in the Bitcoin industry to be able to provide those services on a global scale. It’s taking a lot of coordination but the end result will be amazing.
12 – Do you think music should be shared for free?
I think a creator has the right to determine how their creation is perceived by others. I don’t believe an artist owns their work like one might own a car, but because they created it they have inherent rights to that creation. If they want to then exercise those rights to provide their work for free they certainly can. Likewise if you’re an artist that thinks a $0.99 single should only be played 99 times before a consumer must renew it, that is also possible with the Tao protocol.
13 – Do you have plans or ideas for future crowdfunding projects?
There’s a whole new set of cottage businesses which are possible to serve the Tao Network and provide services to artists. I’m very excited to see what people come up with and am looking forward to supporting those efforts as much as possible.
14 – What do you see as the future of the Tao Network?
The Tao Network is a protocol. It can be copied and duplicated an infinite number of times and those copies can be made to interact with one another. It’s my vision to utilize the Tao protocols to create an Internet of Music, where creators have the ability to make their voice heard and do so in the way that they desire.
15 – What does music mean to you?
Music and blockchain technology are both based on mathematics. I may not play an instrument, but my work is my art. There are so many similarities between music and blockchain technology that we have even begun to use the same words, such as the term “sidechain.” It’s natural harmony that is impossible to ignore. This project has opened my eyes to entirely new possibilities for music and expression and I’m excited to be able to explore them.