Industries that rely on digital payments (especially micro-transactions) and complex contracting between parties stand to gain the most from the arrival of blockchain technology. In addition, the ability to authenticate a work as it passes from one buyer to the next, and to generate unique digital works, will be a boon to those industries where scarcity is valued. We conclude that the creative industries would benefit greatly from this new economic infrastructure – possibly more than any other segment of the economy.
However, the embryonic blockchain-enabled creative economy has a difficult road ahead. Old industry incumbents and new technology platforms alike have failed to demonstrate a willingness to embrace an open and accessible ‘internet of value’ (as blockchain is known). Without concerted efforts to coordinate practitioners and stakeholders (arts organisations, creative firms, funding bodies, collecting societies and others), including shared digital infrastructures and open standards, these benefits may never be realised.
We propose what we are calling an ‘industry utility’ approach to cultural policy. An industry utility is a shared infrastructure built to support and grow a segment of the economy. In this scenario, Australia’s cultural institutions would cooperate in the development and use of a shared blockchain infrastructure for the creative industries. We provide some initial ideas on what that might look like for creative practitioners and show how such an approach would position Australia as a leader in the creative economy.
- An overview of distributed ledger technology, including smart contracts.
- Examples of the way experimentation is already taking place with these technologies in the cultural and creative industries (weighted towards the music and screen sectors where most developments have occurred to date).
- Consideration of the role that Australia’s cultural institutions might play in the development of a creative industries blockchain economy.