Blockchain has arrived in the art world and is here to stay. Thanks to this technology, which allows smarter and safer transactions, intermediaries are reduced, intellectual property is guaranteed and the traceability of creative output is improved. But these applications are only the beginning. Discover how blockchain will revolutionise the art industry.
BLOCKCHAIN APPLICATIONS IN THE ART INDUSTRY
Blockchain will revolutionize the art industry
Blockchain applications have reached the art world. This technology, which bitcoin and other virtual currencies are based on, can already be applied to the creative industries to guard against many of the pitfalls that authors face today. Some of its main advantages are that it guarantees, among other aspects, copyright, transparency in sales and the provenance of the works.
HOW DOES BLOCKCHAIN HELP THE ART SECTOR?
Blockchain applications are well known in the financial sector. They allow secure Internet operations such as cryptocurrency payments and smart contracts. In 2017, this technology, which was created in 2008, had a global market value that exceeded 700 million dollars, as reported in a study by market analysts Wintergreen Research. According to their forecasts, it could reach 60 billion dollars by 2024.
In other areas, such as art, its benefits are yet to be exploited. But blockchain applications in music, cinema, theatre and the publishing industry could lead to revolutionary improvements in the not too distant future. These are its main advantages:
REDUCTION OF INTERMEDIARIES
The number of mediators in sales transactions makes it very difficult for authors to reach their target audience and makes their work more expensive.
Some of the dealers on the Forbes list can earn almost 1 billion dollars a year from the sale of artworks. In 2017 alone, there were 39 million transactions in the world with a resultant value of 63 billion dollars in the global art market, according to the Statista data portal.
Initiatives based on blockchain applications and smart contracts will give artists back control of their works. In this way, they will be able to show or sell their work to potential buyers in a secure cyber environment and at profitable prices.
Maecenas Fine Art, a pioneer of art auctions via blockchain, uses this technology. On this platform, sellers make an inventory of their works and investors can buy them in fragments, lowering the cost of the operation. There are no intermediaries, something that is only made possible with the transparency, traceability and speed of blockchain.
GUARANTEED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
Blockchain can also be applied to innovations in the area of copyright. Thanks to blockchain, we can permanently store the intellectual property of a work in the cloud and manage it wherever and whenever we want.
This improves transparency and guarantees copyright at a delicate time for Internet art: in 2017 there were 300,000 million visits to pirated content websites, 1.6% more than in 2016, according to a study on online piracy by the London firm Muso.
Kodak and Baidu are two companies that have blockchain initiatives to protect and manage the intellectual property of photographs circulating on the web. Kodak uses a unique cryptocurrency to facilitate the purchase of the images on its platform; while Baidu uses an app on which the copyright information is written in blockchain.
IMPROVED TRACEABILITY OF CREATIVE CONTENT
Another application of blockchain is to improve the traceability of artworks. As it is a complex cryptographic technology, we can track the complete journey of a painting, a sculpture or any valuable object, from its creation to its final destination.
Blockchain stores information on the records, sales, studies, analyses, certifications, appraisals, etc., relating to an artwork. This reduces illicit trafficking in cultural property and solves the problem of counterfeiting.
Other advantages of applying blockchain in art.
In addition to cutting out intermediaries, securing copyrights and making it easier to trace artwork, blockchain has these other benefits:
- Breaking the industry monopoly
Blockchain empowers small entrepreneurial artists to bring an end to the dominance of large auction houses and art galleries.
- Maintaining the anonymity of the collector
Blockchain provides public data about artworks without revealing the identity of the collectors.
- Connecting artists with each other
Blockchain will create an interconnected online marketplace where creators will be able to buy cheaper materials and tools.
- Certifying the collector's property
In the event of theft, loss or destruction of an artwork and its legal documents, the owners may be able to prove their ownership rights to insurance companies.
- Speeding up the creation of digital art
Blockchain facilitates the work of artists who rely on computer algorithms or digital elements to create their artwork.
- Certifying the quality of the files
Blockchain certifies the production of original or high quality images in works that are shown on a screen.
- Operating with cryptocurrencies
Buying and selling are speeded up and bank commissions on transfers disappear.
- Digitising galleries
Physical spaces will lose prominence in favour of a decentralised and autonomous online market that will operate through intelligent contracts.
THE SUCCESS OF THE OPEN MUSIC INITIATIVE
The leap of music to the Internet caused a radical shift in this industry. From CD players we went to continuous playback (streaming) and the services which dominate music content globally such as Spotify — with 191 million active users and more than 40 million songs in September 2018, according to the company — and YouTube — with more than 5,000 million daily plays in June 2018 according to the data agency Omnicore —.
With this shift, musicians asked for a solution that would allow them to own their creations and receive a fairer percentage for them. Among the different blockchain applications, platforms have emerged such as the Open Music Initiative, a non-profit initiative which gives the authors back control of their work.
Led by the Berklee College of Music and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), this initiative is capable of tracking the uses of a particular piece of music, the number of plays and where it is played. It can also draw up smart contracts that let artists sell the rights to their own composition with total security and independence.
Blockchain services have appeared in the ticket sales market to reduce fraud and speculation. Smart tickets allow unique registers of authorised buyers to be created so that those responsible for an event can keep track and block resale tickets.
Other technologies that revolutionised art.
Besides blockchain, there are other innovations that have transformed the creative industries. These are some of the most well known:
1. Digital image editing
Computer retouching revolutionised photography. It allows you to play retrospectively with colour, contrast, brightness, image elements, formatting.
Is the most widely used continuous broadcasting technology on the Internet. Playing and downloading an audio or video is done simultaneously.
Collaborative crowdfunding on the web allows artists to fund their projects with small contributions from many different users.
4. 3D printing
3D printers have opened up new paths for sculpture and architecture. It enables design and materials innovation.
5. Video mapping
This technique makes it possible to project drawings, images or sound on surfaces such as building facades, monuments, etc.
6. Augmented Reality
Real objects combined with virtual ones. The artist Scarlett Raven uses augmented reality to show the creative process behind each of her paintings.