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Sandbox Issue 260: Twitch for Artists

Lead: Twitch for artists – Artists were drifting towards livestreaming platform Twitch before COVID-19 hit, and Twitch has been making overtures to musicians for a while. But since live performance was halted, interest in the platform has never been higher, and Twitch is welcoming artists – and their fans – with open arms. But Twitch demands […]

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Spotify CEO says Libra currency could help listeners ‘pay artists directly’

Earlier this week, Facebook announced a new blockchain-powered currency called Libra, and a digital wallet for it called Calibra. Spotify was among the companies backing the plans by becoming a founder member of the independent Libra Association.

Now Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has been talking about his hopes for Libra, including the suggestion that it could one day facilitate direct payments to musicians from fans.

“I think like cryptocurrencies and blockchain are obviously two of the biggest buzzwords you can have today. And for me, I don’t think technology in itself is that interesting. What I do think is interesting is what we can do with that technology,” said Ek, in an interview for Spotify’s own Culture: Now Streaming podcast.

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Google publishes latest report on how it tackles ‘bad ads’

Among the areas of historical tension between music rightsholders and Google has been the use of its advertising network on piracy sites.

Although in this case, Google has been pretty responsive, regularly providing updates on how it’s cracking down on ‘bad ads’ and advertisers across that network – something that’s not just about piracy.

The latest update was published yesterday. “In 2017, we took down more than 3.2 billion ads that violated our advertising policies. That’s more than 100 bad ads per second,” wrote Google’s director of sustainable ads Scott Spencer.

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Salute Music Makers contest gives cryptocurrency to entrants

Salute Music Makers is the latest attempt to adapt the idea of a musical talent contest to the digital world. Announced in March, it has attracted more than 2,000 entrants so far, with six chosen as finalists this past weekend.

Now Salute is announcing a very-topical additional element to its contest: plans to distribute free cryptocurrency to everyone who entered the competition.

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Q&A: Blockpool’s Kevin Bacon talks Björk, blockchain and cryptocurrency

Earlier today, Björk announced more details about her upcoming album ‘Utopia’, including plans to reward fans who pre-order the album with free AudioCoins cryptocurrency, through a partnership with British blockchain startup Blockpool.

The company’s CEO Kevin Bacon has been talking about the project in an interview published this morning. We used selected quotes from it in our story this morning, but the full Q&A is below.

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Björk hits the blockchain with cryptocurrency fan rewards

Fans will be able to buy Björk’s new album ‘Utopia’ using cryptocurrencies, and pre-ordering it directly from the star or her label will earn them crypto rewards too.

The musician has teamed up with British blockchain startup Blockpool, which is working with label One Little Indian on the online store to process ‘Utopia’ pre-orders using credit/debit cards and PayPal, but also the Bitcoin, Audiocoin, Litecoin and Dashcoin cryptocurrencies.

However they choose to pay, each fan will receive 100 Audiocoins – worth just under $0.20 at the time of writing – as a reward for pre-ordering the album, deposited into an e-wallet created for them by Blockpool.

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ICO fundraising continues despite US regulatory warning

We’ve been writing a bit more about initial coin offerings (ICOs) recently. In the blockchain world, they’re a way for a startup to raise money by creating and selling their own cryptocurrencies, without having to run the gamut of regulations that a traditional IPO would have to.

Or at least, that was the theory: a recent statement from US financial regulator the SEC warned that a number of ICOs may still fall foul of its rules.

The New York Times has a good roundup of the reaction from the companies planning ICOs, which is essentially to carry on regardless.

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Initial Coin Offerings are raising regulatory questions

The New York Times has a good piece on one of the new tech-funding trends of 2017: initial coin offerings (ICOs for short).

It’s an alternative to VC investment or crowdfunding for startup entrepreneurs: “Instead, before they even have a working product, they are creating their own digital currencies and selling so-called coins on the web, sometimes raising tens of millions of dollars in a matter of minutes,” is its handy definition of an ICO.