Israeli Startup Exploring Blockchain for Music Streaming Service

Israel's Music Messenger aims to harness blockchain for a music streaming service.

Israeli startup Music Messenger said on Monday it was working on a project that would use blockchain technology to provide a music streaming service.

The company envisions a blockchain-based alternative to Spotify, the popular music streaming service developed by the eponymous Swedish company. Music Messenger said its plan involved letting users pay for Music Messenger Tokens (MMT) or earn tokens by listening to advertisements.

Oded ‘O.D.’ Kobo, investor and board member at Music Messenger, explained that users would be charged less than a cent per song streamed, and artists would collect 90% of the proceeds. This is much higher than the traditional 50% or so other music streaming services offer. The remaining 10% of the fee would go to whoever hosts the audio file.

The beta version of the open-source product is scheduled for launch early in 2019. Music Messenger claims to have attracted some influential investors and expects to give Spotify a run for its money, especially since it would use a cryptocurrency.

But the Israeli venture is not the only one betting on blockchain for a music streaming service.

Early in August, San Francisco-based Audius announced it had secured $5.5 million in Series A funding for its decentralized music streaming platform. Led by US venture capital outfits General Catalyst and Lightspeed, the round also attracted as contributors Pantera Capital, Kleiner Perkins, Ascolta Ventures, and 122 West.

Music Messenger, which was launched in 2014, has raised $25 million in two funding rounds. Among its investors are popular artists, Nicki Minaj, Avicii, and Tiësto. Other celebrity backers are former Geffen Records chairman Gee Roberson, RCA Records executive Mark Pitts, Coldplay manager Dave Holmes, and Wayne Barrow, the former manager of deceased rap legend Notorious B.I.G. In 2015, Music Messenger received $15 million from Roman Abramovich, the Israeli-Russian billionaire who owns Chelsea Football Club.  According to the Israeli startup, the technology it develops “has a deep infrastructure and API integration value, applicable to multiple industries, especially if utilizing blockchain.”