This Start-up is Set to Disrupt the Music Industry with Cryptocurrency

Using blockchain technology, Viberate aims to become the world’s biggest talent marketplace

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BY Cristina Morales - 07 Sep 2017

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PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

The advent of the Internet has caused a seismic shift in the music business, turning the whole industry and its structure on its head, first with piracy issues, then with the introduction of streaming services.

As a result, the industry’s revenue has plunged, and live performances have now become a musician’s primary source of revenue. Indie artists — 80% of the world’s musicians — are the hardest hit by the industry’s disruption; without the structure that comes with a label and an agent, putting up a live performance is an incredibly difficult task.

One Slovenia-based start-up is tackling this issue with blockchain technology. “We want to give every musician in the world a chance,” says Viberate founder Matej Gregorčič in a video interview on the company’s YouTube channel. Viberate isn’t the first blockchain music company, but its predecessors Creativechain, Soundchain, and Musicoin focus on royalty collection. Viberate, on the other hand, concentrates on live music and event organization — sectors that are valued at $35 billion per year.

“Recorded music needs a kick in the ass. Nothing has changed for decades and artist booking processes have been the same since the beginning of this industry,” the company says in a press release. “With important data lying around, we decided to scoop it up, organize it and display it in a way that music industry stakeholders can take advantage from it.”

How it works

Launched in October 2016, Viberate is a crowdsourced live music ecosystem that matches musicians with event organizers. Unlike traditional booking agencies, Viberate’s main target market is smaller, unrepresented musicians. The platform allows musicians to create a profile in seconds, giving them the chance to be discovered by event organizers and agencies, as well as giving them the tools they need to arrange events and gain publicity.

Event organizers, meanwhile, can use the platform to discover new artists. Viberate analyzes billions of data points daily to assess which musicians are trending according to their online popularity. Viberate’s database currently contains over 120,000 musician profiles from all over the world, including Southeast Asia. The platform also has 50,000 venue choices on the platform, which allows users to crowdfund live performances, search for events near them, and resell tickets on a secondary market.

The platform operates on cryptocurrency—primarily its own cryptocurrency Vibe tokens—allowing users to have a global reach, uninfluenced by national currencies and regulations. Fans can earn Vibe tokens by promoting the website and creating content on the platform, while artists can charge for their gigs in cryptocurrency. “A few years ago… I was offered to be paid in Bitcoin and I said no,” says co-founder Uroš Umek in the same video interview. “This was a big mistake. I’m a strong believer that all the artists in the world will sooner or later be paid in cryptocurrency.”

The start-up has high hopes for the Asia-Pacific audience—they expect 25-50% of their revenue to come from the region.

Backed by industry veterans

Viberate’s founders are no strangers to the music industry. Gregorčič is a veteran in events management, COO Vaja Veber is a music manager and a member of the Recording Academy with Grammy voting rights, and Umek is an accomplished techno DJ with over two decades of experience in music production. Also involved in the start-up as advisers are Bitcoin foundation founder Charlie Shrem, Bitcoin platform founder Gambit Collin Lahay, and Pinterest’s chief scientist Dr. Jure Leskovec.

Viberate is currently raising funds through an initial coin offering, aiming for a minimum of $1 million. From September 5 to October 4, Viberate will be selling 120 million Vibe tokens with a base price of $0.10.

The funds raised will be channeled to marketing and adding event organizer and booking agency profiles on the platform. Vibe tokens will be used to reward users who update musician profiles and contribute to the platform.