Streaming Service Guarantees Artists $0.01 Per Stream — In Bitcoin

Will bitcoin technology help ensure that every artist gets paid fairly?  Arena Music believes so.

According to Arena Music’s website, the platform pays the highest royalties in the world.  It also invites fans to “contribute to the new music industry.”

But how can it make such bold claims?  According to the company, thanks to bitcoin technology.

Will bitcoin save the music industry?

In a press release earlier this year, Arena Music announced that it would offer royalty payments in Bitcoin.

Arena Music first started testing royalty payments in Bitcoin for artists in Phoenix and in Atlanta. According to Arena founder and CEO Damon Evans, bitcoin technology “forces a level of transparency and fairness in reporting and payouts.”  Thus, cryptocurrency will eliminate the music industry’s “black box.”

In an interview with, Evans makes a daring claim.

We [tell artists that] taking payment in Bitcoin essentially annihilates the “black box” accounting subscription services major labels rely on to leverage maximum profits between stream payouts and paying subscribers.

According to Evans, thanks to this transparency, streaming platforms like Spotify and Amazon will never offer payouts in bitcoins.  He also criticizes the music industry as a whole while boasting about his own music platform.

This detail also explains why the world’s most known subscription services will never be allowed to offer payouts in Bitcoin.  It essentially removes the ability to fully control the music industry from those who have historically been able to keep the system broken.”

Evans added that most artists on their platform feel comfortable accepting cyrptocurrency payments.

Currently, 30% of our artist clients have, or are, accepting payments through Bitcoin and we expect that number to grow the more we market and promote the option.

Yet, is Evans merely building up an untested technology?

Are Arena Music and Damon Evans biting off more than they can chew?

According to Evans, Arena offers $0.01 per stream in Bitcoin.  In fact, the technology has enabled a way for independent artists to release new music.

We’re watching our local music scene build the foundation for an entirely new way of releasing single tracks and full albums that pay each writer, producer and featured artist their shares of the $0.01 per stream Arena offers in Bitcoin.”

Yet, analyzing the company’s press release and subsequent interview, Evans keeps key details obscured.

How exactly will an untested technology (at least in the music industry) “annihilate” the industry’s black box?

In addition, $0.01 doesn’t make Arena Music the streaming platform that “pays the highest royalties in the world.”  That title, according to independent researchers, would belong to Napster, which reportedly pays artists $0.0167 per stream.  TIDAL follows closely behind with $0.0110.  Did Arena Music, along with Evans, fail to do their research?

More importantly, what will happen to artists on the platform should music fans fail to line up behind the company?  As Evans proudly boasted to, it doesn’t have a partnership with major labels.  It also doesn’t receive financing from them.  As a whole, without any major financial reports nor backing, the company appears to stand on sinking ground.

Other questions abound.  For example, can artists on Arena also upload their music to other reputable streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music?  And do Evans and Arena truly understand the complexity behind music licensing?  That’s a thick soup, especially given that the US government, major performance rights organizations, and major labels have yet to agree on a centralized licensing database.  And idealisms aside, the reality is that a large percentage of streaming spins come from major label artists — paid fairly, or not.

Another wrinkle comes from the complexity of bitcoin itself.  Will Arena Music provide support to help rightsholders set up their digital Bitcoin wallet?

Bitcoin technology may help some independent artists flourish.  Yet, without clear answers to these questions, Damon Evans and Arena Music may boast more than the company (and the technology) can actually deliver.


Image by BTC Keychain (CC by 2.0)

12 Responses

  1. William

    Yup, its a lot more complicated. I love the idea, but 99.99% of artists have no idea how bitcoin works. Even if they do get a wallet, securing that wallet is a whole other isssue. Its not that simple for non-techie people.

    Oh well

    • Jim

      Yeah, I guess this would be for those people who want to use bitcoins?

      I’m not sure, just from reading the article, what advantage bitcoins provides in this context.

      Not saying those advantages aren’t there, just not sure what those advantages are.

      It’s not really clear how this is different from Spotify, except bitcoins.

      The innovation here shouldn’t be done with subscription models. Spotify and all the others are all subscription models – all you can eat buffet, monthly fee.

      That not how the music industry has worked, typically, but you do see it, you can pay a venue a bunch of money and see everything, but typically, at a venue, you pay for what you want to see, not a flat rate allowing you to see everything.

    • Oli is the first decentralised music upload site with crypto rewards for artists and users..

  2. Anonymous

    The rate is determined by taking a percentage of revenue, and dividing that number by the number of plays on the service during a given period. The less plays there are (i.e. the less time people spend listening to music on that service), the higher the royalty rate. As long as the people who subscribe to the service don’t use it that often, $0.01/play shouldn’t be hard to accomplish. On the other hand, it probably means you have a crappy service that no one wants to use, and the total royalties paid to rights owners will probably be pretty bad.

    I don’t think artists and songwriters want to be paid in bitcoin. I mean, I suppose you can buy illegal drugs with it, and many artists and songwriters might consider that one of its positive aspects. But it’s just inconvenient to convert to US dollars when paying rent, bills, stuff like that.

    • Jim

      Also, with the new service, there might not be easy ways to cheat the system. Cheating the system is a big part of spotify.

      You can buy a Million spotify plays for under $10K, and you get paid back for the money you’re spending on fake plays. An entire ecosystem revolves around this.

      The subscription model is not the best model for acts with significant numbers of fans.

      Taylor Swift should be able to get more than 1/10th of penny or 1/2 of a penny, or 1 penny or 2 pennies for a video view of a new video.

      Is it really that difficult to come up with a system where Taylor Swift sends out a facebook blast telling her fans that the new video will only appear on a certain website for a week, and if you want to see the new video, in that week, you have to pay a certain amount of money, like 5 cents or 10 cents or 25 cents or 50 cents or a dollar.

      All artists with any fans at all would really it if they could get real money – not less than a penny – when they have something that fans would be willing to pay for.

      Not subscription – pre-paid, or pay as you go.

  3. Nelson

    Our company 1st started accepting bitcoin in 2014, we done many of webinars and conference sessions as well as supporting Music Public Blockchain project and love to watch new entrants try to figure out Distribution is King and one channels w/o the Majors Will never work and lastly I believe for public libraries has the highest payouts.

    Thanks for playing , what’s next.

    • Anonymous

      Highest rates yes, but not highest payouts. It’s actually a great service, and in my opinion, the public library is the most appropriate place for a free ad-supported interactive service to exist. It’s just a challenge to get people to go to the public library these days, at least who aren’t students. Also, consider using punctuation.

  4. Shachar Oren

    Important warning two artists…: Arena does not pay its bills… (!) They used our company’s services as a vendor a couple of years, sourcing major and Indie labels from us for sale through Arena, we powered licensed MP3 in their app for a while. During the last year of our engagement, they failed to pay royalties, failed to pay for service bills… we have tried for two years now to collect from them, they do not pay… I find it reprehensible to read this statement with all it’s empty promises. You may get paid in acorns or in apricot nuts by Arena but not in any coin worth your art.

    Shachar Oren
    Neurotic Media

    • Shachar Oren

      Sorry for the typo, did this on my cell – warning TO artists 😉

  5. Digger

    Who cares how much they are going to pay (even if $10 per stream) if no listener is going to use that service as no one simply gives a damn?

  6. SimonFraser4

    Or you could just drive traffic to Tidal which pays out at around £0.013 ($0.02) per stream.

  7. ap-o

    Small correction, after 2 years of delays, I started receiving some payments. About 66% of the total amount. Apparently because of the comment above, I won’t be getting the rest.