Forrester warns of potential ‘blockchain winter’ in 2019


There have been many grand claims for the potential that blockchain technology has for music, over the last couple of years, but relatively little proof that those claims are true. That’s partly because the real potential of blockchain is to help the industry tackle complicated challenges around metadata and rights-tracking, with slow-burning projects that have been going on mostly behind the scenes, swerving the hype. You’ll be hearing about some of them more in the coming months.

One risk, though, is that the wider hype (and in some non-music cases, outright scams) around blockchain could hinder its progress. Research firm Forrester’s principal analyst Martha Bennett has written a blog post predicting that 2019 could be a bumpy one for some startups. “There’s a real risk that we’ll experience the beginning of a ‘blockchain winter,’ as the continued absence of miracles and revolutionary developments leads decision makers to throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water and stop distributed-ledger-technology-related investments completely,” she wrote. She also made a point that’s very relevant to blockchain music projects: “Technology shortcomings won’t be the biggest inhibitor. That honour goes to non-tech issues, whether it’s agreeing on data and process definitions, smart contract rules, access permissions, or governance frameworks and legal agreements,” she wrote. “Blockchains are 80% business, 20% technology.” When it comes to working with music rights, that’s very much the case – which is why the startups who’ll be most meaningful have spent their time forging relationships with the music industry behind closed doors, rather than quacking publicly about disrupting the industry and destroying the middlemen.

Stuart Dredge

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