There continues to be a lot of confusion online about Resonate’s relationship to blockchain technology, which I hope to clarify with this post.
As the founder of Resonate, the birth of the platform was directly tied to my personal excitement and interest in blockchain tech, starting in 2014 with the advent of Ethereum. The technology was a very direct inspiration to the ideas and ideals I hoped to embody within the organization, being inspired that it would create a methodology for “baking in” fairness and accountability into the very infrastructure layers that would power the platform.
There was also another direct interest for in working in this space – funding.
From the very earliest days (spring to fall 2015) I was aware that even though a co-operative would be the ideal business structure to form a truly fair and transparent operation, I was equally aware that this would create a nearly impossible task – fundraising. I’ve written numerous articles on our blog and on Medium about this topic, so won’t bother repeating all of the issues, but it boils down to one main thing… traditional investors don’t fund co-ops because they can’t receive equity and influence in exchange for their investment.
Fortunately, this stark reality didn’t stop me (or you wouldn’t be reading these words LOL!) because I saw a potentially NEW opportunity to fund through token sales, which I hoped at the time would be the mechanism to “break the mold” so to speak.
In 2016-17 I pursued and collaborated on many initiatives and projects in the blockchain world. Being loathe to name drop, I’ll simply say that many of those collaborators and colleagues are considered as the “first wave” participants in the music + blockchain space. While most of those initiatives didn’t pan out, one in particular did – the partnership with RChain, a blockchain platform based out of Seattle, USA.
This led to a funding agreement which had a singular purpose – to launch a token that, it was hoped, would create a large enough treasury to ensure long term development and growth. A development fund that wouldn’t be owned and controlled by investors, thereby ensuring that we would be able to build the platform ethically, free from undue influence.
There was one major problem – Feb 2018 was the absolute WORST time in the history of blockchain to seek funding through a token sale.
To illustrate… at the beginning of 2018, RChain’s token was valued at $3 each. By the end of the year, when the partnership had effectively dissolved, the token we were being funded with had bottomed out to 9 cents. This wasn’t unique to RChain, but the entire crypto space itself.
While the crypto space eventually recovered, other vulnerabilities have since appeared. Primarily those surrounding the energy issue (which is real, but also often misunderstood due to some unfortunately bad science and reporting) but even more so, the topic of inclusivity. The crypto space has long been dominated by certain demographics (around 75% white males earning over $100K a year) which reveals and connects to a number of accessibility issues outside the scope of this post.
There has also been a disturbing influx of VC money into the space, which are causing many to raise the alarm that the problems inherent to the “web 2.0” phase of the Internet will simply be replicated in the emerging “web 3.0” realm. (Numerous dynamics to unpack on those topics – this article touches on some of those points.)
2019 sparked a transition. It was the year I stepped down as head of Resonate, leading Rich Jensen to initiate a “long slog” through the trenches of truly grassroots, ground up co-operative organizational development. I will forever be grateful for Rich initiating that phase, as it was the only thing that could ensure Resonate’s survival given the ever-present funding dynamics with co-operatives. This phase was difficult and slow to develop, as it needed to move at a more human pace, rather than one dictated by the methodologies and cultures of the “move fast and break things” startup world.
And now, as 2022 powers on, we stand in entirely new space, about to launch all of the tools and technologies that will power Resonate’s ability to grow ethically and sustainably, free from the risk of investor dynamics that continue to plague the music platform space, as evidenced by the recent acquisition of Bandcamp by Epic Games.
In summary, I hope it’s clear that we’re not building anything “on chain” at the moment. If this ever changes, it will be because of a decision made democratically, openly and transparently by the community supporting and powering the platform and not the choice of a few individuals, fully weighing in on all of the issues so that our mission and purpose to operate the fairest possible platform remains intact.