The first ever blockchain music festival is coming up. On October 20, Our Music Festival hosted by 3LAU will take place at San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza, featuring Zedd as a headlining act. Click here to purchase tickets and witness the emerging technology in action among performances by Big Sean, Zedd, the host himself, Matt & Kim, and Charlotte Lawrence.
DA spoke with Justin Blau about what festival-goers can expect at the festival from a technology perspective. The label boss also discussed future aspirations of implementing blockchain to events in the future in order to solve some of the industry’s current inefficiencies. The OMF app will be the first festival application that runs on an open-source blockchain.
How did you start developing the first blockchain music festival?
Being in the music business for 8-9 years, we’ve all experience a lot of the inefficiencies in this relatively inefficient business. As I opened my eyes to the technology that blockchain could start, I really thought this could help propel festivals in the future.
What got you started in blockchain?
I started learning about blockchain while staying with the Winklevoss twins in LA around 2012. They were busy building their exchange, and learned about bitcoin there. Last year, when the market was going crazy, I took a big nosedive into learning about the technology.
How will Our Music Festival be different than a regular music festival?
You’re going to be able to earn rewards at the festival on the app for performing certain activities. With those rewards, festival-goers can buy merch. This is the only implementation of the blockchain technology in year one. In the future, we want to expand the technology so fans can choose the lineup and get fractional ownership.
How does the app work?
In the first year, everyone will get OMF tokens for free. Call it a rebate for the ticket purchase. Festival-goers download the app, claim their QR code which activates the wallet, and OMF tokens are earned by performing certain activities at the festival. They can exchange these tokens at the merch table.
What data-points are you looking at in year one?
Festival-goers who purchase tickets will get three tokens immediately, and we hope they go to the merch tent and are amazed at how quickly and seamless the process is. We’re giving people free tokens from QR codes printed on confetti and other activities.
What inefficiencies in the music industry are you looking to solve?
There are three main things we want to solve. The first is liquidity. Typically, fans wait until the last minute to purchase festival tickets. This is a huge problem because it disables event curators from making festivals the best they could because they don ‘t have the money, so they cut costs.
Consumers wait until the last minute to buy tickets because there’s not a very easy way to sell them back. They think they might go down in price, but tickets typically go up in price. Fans in general don’t have enough liquidity for tickets, so we want to get them more involved in order to earn rebates.
The second aspect we want to solve are marketing inefficiencies. Friends tell their friends about festivals, but they don’t get anything in return from a referral. They simply get their friend’s company. This creates value, and we want to give that value back to the referrer and market the event in a word of mouth way that’s never really happened before.
The last problem is this giant data problem. Artists and fans are generating all this data, and they don’t own any of it. In our open-source platform, artists and fans will be able to access all the data from users who opt in. This means artists can better target and have a more direct interaction with their fans.
What is the ideal way you see this working?
The blockchain side of things will help give those who participate more say. Blockchain verifies individual involvement. A hypothetical: Let’s say you want to go to EDC, while you’re not ready to buy a full ticket yet, you’ll spend $10 now to influence who plays and get a $20 credit on their ticket later because you gave the festival curators valuable data. Blockchain also verifies involvement to keep bots and spam out.
In order to engage people, we need to make blockchain simple and understandable. After they understand it, we hope they’ll want to buy more of it.
You’re quite the trendsetter. In addition to OMF, you also started the first not-for-profit label, BLOOM. What made you go down this path?
I’ve done a lot of non-profit work even before I was an artist. I think it’s important to give back to the community, especially since I get to make a living doing what I love. I’m making OMF to give back to the fans. Pencils of Promise is the organization my label, BLUME donates 100 percent of its profits to. It’s a super transparent organization. I know exactly where the money goes. We’ve built seven schools in Guatemala with them.