This week I was lucky enough to attend Primavera Pro, for those that don’t know, Primavera Pro is an anual music/tech conference, held in Barcelona, that aims to increase debate and understanding on emerging technologies. Specifically how these developments may effect the music industry.
The decentralised-elephant in the room
A brief look at the schedule for the upcoming talks showed that blockchain was the hot topic of this years’ event. With discussions ranging from blockchain and ownership rights to whether or not blockchain could speed up the issue of royalty payments. What was most clear from these discussions was that the level of understanding regarding blockchain tech is still, generally speaking, at a very basic level. This lead to Blockchain, Bitcoin, Ethereum, cryptocurrency, distributed ledgers, smart contracts, decentralised applications, and a host of other buzzwords being used interchangeably and inaccurately.
What this showed more than anything was that Blockchain technology is still very much conflated with its use cases as seen in various cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin & Ethereum. Aside from some confusion the panels in most of the talks were passionate and driven towards understanding how to implement blockchain tech to alleviate some of the problems within the music industry. suggesting for example, that a blockchain based payment system, or the use of smart contracts, could divide profit from music ventures and pay the right parties involved immediately, in contrast to the modern system which can take up to a year. Rights within the music industry, were also a hot topic, with some people advocating a blockchain initiative could make this problem disappear, with others suggesting that it was a “solution looking for a problem”.
Overall the majority of talks discussed blockchain technology on a very superficial level, failing to go into any depth or complexity regarding the subject.
Who should own your data?
One fascinating talk, on the topic of sovereign identity was given by Alex Puig, CEO of Alastria. In his talk, titled ‘Building a self-sovereign identity based on blockchain‘ Alex proposed the creation and implementation of a ‘digital identity’, a vision of the future in which we progress from the current circus of data handling and ownership to one in which each individual is the ‘owner’ or ‘keeper’ of his data.
The beauty of this would be that rather than all of your data being available to pretty much everyone all the time, you could choose which parts of your information to show, for example to enter a bar or club you would only have to prove that you are of sufficient age, other parts of your information, such as your name or address, are not important for this procedure and therefor do not have to be shown. Dead Prez once asked “Why they need to know my government name in the club?”, well with self-sovereign identity, they don’t.
Overall, Primavera Pro was an interesting conference which successfully brought together numerous professionals of different backgrounds to collaborate on the same questions. It was refreshing to see such an interest in blockchain technology, however it remains clear that the far reaching possibilities of what can be achieved with blockchain, are still outshone by the bullish speculative nature of cryptocurrency fluctuations and assurances of soon-to-come transparency and rapid payment methods.
Written by Joseph Noott.