Blockchain continues to be a watchword in the media and entertainment sector and beyond. The technology, which is set to disrupt the existing model of third-party distribution, will not only change the way we consume content but will also herald a new era of transparency and flexibility in the way the content is produced, says Alexander Shulgin, a visonary, investor, composer, entrepreneur, futurist, and a Blockchain specialist
How do you think Blockchain is going to change the landscape for media and entertainment industry?
Blockchain is set to change everything. It will change how the people access content; it will change industrial businesses and, of course, our life style. Media & Entertainment is one of the most important aspects of our lifestyle, which is already a trillion dollars industry. Blockchain will transform it dramatically. It will change the way the content is created and allow its decentralization. One will be able to create content while streaming or accessing it. Blockchain is not going to be about distribution of content, rather it will be about accessing it.
Before the digital era arrived, there used to be a Master Tape, which could be used to create limited copies of cassettes, DVDs, CDs, etc. When the digital era came the Master Tape disappeared because you could make unlimited copies of the same quality and distribute it. However, now distribution of unlimited copies of a film has become more and more expensive because you need to distribute the content in terms of Gigabytes and Terabytes.
Blockchain resolves this issue smartly. For instance, if a new series of Games of Thrones is launched there will be only one copy of it which will be in the DotBC standard. This standard is comparable to standards like MPEG or MP3, but it allows unlimited access to smart content.
So instead of distributing this one copy of Games of Thrones to 100 million firms, Blockchain allows you to give them access to this content. It will significantly reduce the cost of distribution and help the creator monetize every view by the users.
For instance, if you have distributed the copy of the content there may be people who will watch it for just five minutes and don’t like it. But in this case you have already spent heavily on distributed terabytes.
However, if you give access of the content to the people even if they don’t like it you will save lot of bytes. Also, the data used can immediately give you statistics. It is much like pay for what you watch.
Today, if I put my content on YouTube I am paid by advertisers only if I have more than, say, 10,000 views. If only 300 people watch the content, they don’t pay you. But the Blockchain will allow you to get paid for even one view that too immediately.
Is it like you pay from your credit card?
When you make a payment through credit card, the card company asks American Express or Mastercard to make the transactions and sometimes one transaction may cost you three dollars. But since using Blockchain you can make a trillion transactions in one go that too at the cost of one transaction, it won’t matter how many transactions you do.
Will Blockchain allow distribution of an Indian film in the Latin America, Brazil in their languages?
When producers give content, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon don’t provide the data. Sometimes they share some data but they keep the data mainly with themselves. The data is new oil, new gold. If you have the data then you can monetize it by selling it to the interested parties.
Machine learning, which is a form of Blockchain, will automatically know where the user comes from and provide the content translated in the language known to them. Suppose I come from France and I know French, I will be the French translation of the content automatically. It has become easier now with the emergence of language translation services like Google, Microsoft and others.
Is it going to change the way movies or content are distributed?
Distributor will not distribute because the producer will have the access. There will be no distributor. The nature of Blockchain will disrupt third parties. It will make direct connections with the user. Today if I have to send an SMS, my SMS will go to a Moscow server then it will go to a Mumbai operator before getting delivered to the intended person. It travels thousands of miles, which means extra cost. It wastes time and increases traffic. In case of Blockchain, it will go directly to the recipient. If it goes directly then there can be no latency. You can stream the content online and mix editing online according to my behavior. The way of protection of content will be changed.
Will this help startups?
Old companies are often very slow in adapting new technologies. There is a big chance for new emerging markets for start-ups.
Is this blockchain expensive?
It will cut a lot of cost. It needs lot of energy. Of course you need data mining centres and that will cost you but because it will cut a lot of costs it will be a win-win for all.
Will it help if five-six independent people come together, pool their content and distribute it in a big way?
They can join together to promote the content, they don’t need to create a platform.
Can we live without Google, Amazon or YouTube?
Blockchain will disrupt the search engines also. That’s why Google is now being transformed to Alphabet. Alphabet is Artificial Intelligence. We still have Google but it understands the future.
Also, that’s why Netflix focuses on content. The platform is a third party and a third party has no future.
What kind of media sectors can benefit and make money out of it?
You can make money in many ways. If you have data then you can barter it with other things. Blockchain will allow this to happen. Let’s say if I need fruit from India, you can give me fruit and I can give you my music. Money is something just to be equal to exchange.
Will Blockchain kill piracy?
Yes of course, because now you will have one master tape which cannot be hacked. It is almost impossible to hack Blockchain.
How did you get into the world of Blockchain?
I am from music, media and entertainment industry. Blockchain started as a peer to peer project in 1999. The first peer to peer project was Kazaa. I know the founders of Kazaa and I tried to find more about this technology because I was very angry about piracy. But it was not piracy, it was a peer to peer sharing. Later, the US government shut down Kazaa.
How has Blockchain shaped in Russia?
We have started it. A lot of it is used in payment transaction. But then we are waiting for 5G network. Remember in 1994 it was impossible to download MP3. In 1996 to download one MP3 file you needed one night. Now it is instant. In the same way, Blockchain needs more bandwidth. We are waiting for 5G and by the time 6G is introduced it will be bigger.