We have a lot of interactions with real-world artists whose primary income is in the cash economy. We are also technologists and work in decentralised and non-decentralised finance. We want to join these industries and make them relevant for the people we know who are working in the physical creative economy.
We have observed that the most relevant day-to-day technologies that creators use is currently a combination of facebook, instagram and whatsapp. For all of the news about NFTs in the media, these artists do not see crypto as relevant to their day-to-day existence. We want to change that.
Existing streaming platforms don't work well for digital distribution of newly created content. This is because they are now mainly populated by a vast back-catalogue of existing works which account for over 50% of all streams. This is a marketplace that newly created work struggles to survive in.
We want to create a platform that is primarily focussed on the creation and distribution of new work.
We had previously done some work on things like DRM as well as some UI work, for this project we wanted to integrate what we had already done into Solana to (a) make what we have done multi-chain, and (b) ensure that the underlying settlement platform is scalable.
What it does
We combine a multi-chain wallet with embedded digital rights management and content distribution to enable the creation of Non Transferable Rights ("NTRs"), and a low cost mechanism for distribution that can be negotiated (and renegotiated) on an ad hoc basis. This leaves the artist, or rights holder, in control of the product they created.
NTRs allow consumers to rent content from creators. They can be denominated in one or many tokens, allowing creators to choose how they get paid and/or how fans pay. The NTRs can be tokenised if the owners wish (but they don't have to be), affording creators ultimate flexibility as to how their works are consumed, and how the proceeds of their work are distributed between contributors, promoters, fans or anyone else.
NTRs are economically and technically decentralised as they let the artists set all the parameters associated with the monetisation of their works. They are a more intuitive and sustainable route for artistic monetisation.
How we built it
Angry Plum is built on top of the wallet activation infrastructure that we have been developing over the last 2-3 years. This is a combination of portable network hosted activators, which connect to a number of underlying settlement infrastructures including blockchains and the fiat banking system (via open banking).
Angry Plum demonstrates the use of these components to activate Digital Rights Managed ("DRM") content.
The media activator in this context executes codes which coordinates blockchain and DRM interactions from the browser to only deliver content keys once a payment transaction has been confirmed. The activated transaction coordinates multiple payments, so the user payment, DRM key release and the payment to contributing parties all happen within a single coordinated activation event.
Challenges we ran into
What we've done is integrate together five disparate worlds that are all needed to make our simple transaction work:
- Phone and desktop development
- Rights management infrastructure (mainly used by broadcast providers) 3, The traditional fiat banking system
- The crypto community
- The self sovereign identity and credential community
We're trying to replicate the thing that happens normally at gigs. Someone plays a set, and then sells a CD to a fan. This feels like it should be simple. Throw up a media player, click a button, receive a payment. At first sight there seem to be many solutions to this problem, but in practice for one reason or another, there are none.
Trying to replicate this simple interaction in a secure and convenient way for the fan and the musician, both of whom now spend the majority of their life using mobile phones, actually requires the coordination of the five disparate worlds listed above. All of whom provide part of the solution.
In each of the above there are significant technical, legal and/or information complexities that need to be overcome.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We have built a platform that allows for fans to deal directly with creators, and for creators to distribute the funds received to those involved. This is the fundamental basis of every creative industry. We believe we have done it in a way that does not require technologists in the middle of it to make it work.
What we learned
To make user-facing technology work the user and their user-agent need to be the point of control for all data and interactions. Everything else is just a subsidiary service provider to this principal transaction.
The transactional signing process that is inherent in blockchain-based settlement systems is the conceptual bedrock in which user control can be built. However, on its own it is not enough to deliver truly convenient user interactions. For that you need to integrate services provided to them by the digital world they inhabit. If you don't do this, you are doomed to have to re-invent the whole world before you deliver them a solution. It is the equivalent of offering to build a starbucks store to someone who just wants a cup of coffee.
What we have learned through the process, is that although it is difficult to stitch these pieces together, it is possible.
What's next for Angry Plum
What we have built to date is the payment and distribution platform that allows for content rental.
We want to take what we have got and finish it to the stage where it is a releasable operating platform. What we're demonstrating in this hackathon is viable working prototype.
Beyond that we assume that Angry Plum would get extended to allow for that rental income to be securitised by building virtual DAO-based production companies and the delivery of crypto-paid influencer-driven marketing. We believe this is the media business of the future.