Musicians' gripes about insultingly tiny payouts from streaming services like Spotify and YouTube have been widespread. Tess Gadwa, co-founder of Attention Based Currency and CEO of Yes Exactly, is planning to create a platform that will fairly compensate musicians for digital consumption of their work. She saw an entry into the market in the wake of Bitcoin's devaluation. Ergo, Attention Based Currency. "My motivation for ABC is to create a way to include the right brain in a potentially world-changing technology," Gadwa says in an email interview. "A cryptocurrency like Bitcoin is based on extremely powerful computers solving extremely difficult equations. Math has a lot of value, but music has equal value. ABC is designed to give artists and creators of every genre a boost, by providing an alternative way to monetize content online."
According to ABC's website, this patent-pending technology "lets listeners 'mine' currency by playing music from a streaming audio service. It creates a unique identifier/datestamp which is then linked to a traditional cryptocurrency. No specialized software is required. All listeners need is Internet access and time to listen."
The Attention Based Currency player will be based on the Ampache streaming application. Every time you listen to a song using this system, both you and the artist get currency. Musicians retain all rights to their music. Gadwa says that musicians will receive 50 percent of all currency mined. "This is a core bedrock principle of Attention Based Currency—and one of the ways in which it helps address the gap in online streaming music royalties for artists, as experienced in the music industry today."
Besides Gadwa—who says she's been an ardent music fan since her early teens—ABC is run by Erik Amlee, a musician and owner of Mandragora Records and founder of the Weirdsville Internet radio station. Gadwa explains that ABC has, "a number of other musicians, DJs, and record geeks involved in the project, in an official or unofficial capacity."
Gadwa projects that ABC will launch on June 25. The company will announce the list of participating bands, venues, and artists in early April. It is also looking for code contributors and collaborators, as well as beta testers. Interested musicians can upload songs at Million Song Mixtape.