back to article Is this the worst Blockchain idea you've ever heard?

The music industry has been a petri dish for some fairly atrocious digital ideas, but few can be as desperate as Blockchain. Is this the worst Blockchain idea you’ve ever heard? We thought the business had scraped rock bottom with blockchain .bc “format”. This got oodles of press, as Imogen Heap was fronting the publicity for …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes here's a stinker, Blockchain as DRM

    1. Preston Munchensonton

      Yes here's a stinker, Blockchain as DRM

      Wow. Fuck you for even mentioning that out loud. Like the RIAA and MPAA need more DRM ideas in which to drown us. Clearly, AC wins the Internet this week.

      1. Roq D. Kasba

        I can go one worse - blockchain as a streaming platform.

    2. streaky Silver badge

      Blockchain as DRM

      Yup well done, the one place blockchain could actually be used for something that makes any technical sense and you had to broadcast it, couldn't resist eh?

    3. Nigel Campbell

      Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice

      Be careful what you wish for ...

  2. Jeroen Braamhaar

    Obviously, totally in the spirit of the article and the proffered competition, adding a blockchain ledger to the poll to determine the eventual victor would be an absolute requirement.

  3. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

    Blockchain for buying Pet Food

    Because & their sock puppet wasn't a stupid enough idea back in the day.

  4. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Blockchain technology for music payment seems a dead end, but there is a valid point that the world could well do with some form of micropayment system that dose not involve the septic tank of on-line advertisement networks.

    Something where you could pay of the order of 0.1p per music/video play directly (more or less) to the folk who did the work. Cheap and painless so folk don't mind paying for a clean experience (and probably well above what they get from YouTube...)

    1. Mage Silver badge

      micropayment system

      However Blockchain is the opposite to a micropayment system in almost every aspect of how it works.

    2. Steven Roper


      Buy once, play forever - that's the ONLY model I wil accept. Once they have you on pay-per-play hook for 0.1p, it won't be long before the beancounters will start hiking the price every month or so to milk ever more money out of you. Zero tolerance of this is the only way to prevent that from happening.

      Fortunately I now have mp3s or flacs of every single piece of music of every composer or band I ever liked, and since all modern mass-produced music is now generic three-chord pap with autotune I don't need any more. Most of the new stuff I download now is from indie bands who release their stuff under CC licences, who are far more original and talented than the mass-market crap produced by the music cartels. So at least I'm a dead market if they do go to pay-per-play. In the words of Hagar the Horrible, "I've got mine!"

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: No.

        I've been saying this for years. Cancelled all my streaming subs bar one, a family sub that I only use for discovery. Then I buy the CD or MP3. Amazon Rip FTW.

      2. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: No.

        I think you'll find that they're all 4 chord songs.

      3. h4rm0ny

        Re: No.

        >>"Buy once, play forever - that's the ONLY model I wil accept. Once they have you on pay-per-play hook for 0.1p, it won't be long before the beancounters will start hiking the price every month or so to milk ever more money out of you. Zero tolerance of this is the only way to prevent that from happening."

        But the value of my music depreciates and there is new music coming out all the time. A subscription model is a cost effective way for me to keep cycling my music as I stop listening to old songs that I've heard a lot and start listening to new songs that are still fresh to me.

        >>"Fortunately I now have mp3s or flacs of every single piece of music of every composer or band I ever liked"

        This is probably the case given you're arguing for buying outright rather than subscription models, but just checking that you paid for all of those rather than pirated, because that sounds like a huge investment.

        1. Steven Roper

          Re: No.

          A subscription model is a cost effective way for me to keep cycling my music as I stop listening to old songs

          I don't stop listening to old songs. I have so much music that it would take me months to listen to it all. I tend to have a nostalgia period where I'll listen to 1980s pop music for a week or two, then get bored of it and switch to listing to my old Black Sabbath and Ronnie James Dio stuff; then I'll get into Jean-Michel Jarre, Vangelis and Kitaro; then it's marching bands, then Wagnerian opera.

          From this you can deduce I have a very broad taste in music - pretty much everything from Antonio Vivaldi to Paul Oakenfold is on my list, in fact about the only genres I don't like are rap, hip-hop and dubstep.

          but just checking that you paid for all of those rather than pirated, because that sounds like a huge investment.

          That's a bit of a question. Did I download music from Napster and torrents? Yes - but only music I knew because I'd already had it in some form or another. During my youth, I spent literally thousands on cassettes, LPs and later, CDs because of my passion for music. In addition, my parents, cousins and siblings had their collections too. When MP3s became ubiquitous and I discovered I could set up a playlist in Winamp and leave it going all day rather than having to choose a new CD or tape every half hour or so, I set about ripping many of these old CDs and tapes to MP3.

          When Napster came along, I found it was far quicker just to search for the albums I had in my collection and download them; while CDs can be ripped fairly quickly, it takes a lot longer to rip LPs and cassettes and the quality is not always as good. But I tended to download only what I already had somewhere on an LP, tape or CD.

          Some would still call that piracy. I don't. I just call it format-shifting. Pay once, play forever, that's what I said.

          In some cases I have downloaded torrented music either on someone's recommendation or out of curiosity. But if I like it, I invariably make a point of buying a CD because I want an original in my collection. And if I don't, then it gets deleted. Case in point: Paul Oakenfold. A friend introduced me to his brand of trance/techno by giving me an MP3 of his album Tranceport; I liked it so much that over the next few years I ended up hunting down and buying his entire discography - several hundred dollars worth of sales he (or more accurately his label) wouldn't have made but for the fact I pirated Tranceport in the first place.

          Aside from that, my music downloads are either YouTube rips, which I also don't consider to be piracy, since it's available legally for free anyway, or from CC indie artists distributing through MySpace, Free Music Archive and such places.

    3. Bob Dole (tm)

      Often the "folk who did the work" sell the rights to that work to someone else.

      So, who do you think ought to be paid? The song writer that sold the song to the band? The band who sold the music rights to a label? The label who sold the distribution rights to Apple or Amazon?

  5. RatX

    Life Imitates Art

    Anybody watching Silicon Valley will surely find the latter idea eerily familiar?

  6. EastFinchleyite

    Blockchain and HMRC

    Incorporate Blockchain technology into the HMRC taxation process. Every day you go to work or do something (anything!) associated with work, it gets added to your Blockchain record. Everyone gets a Bitcoin ledger ID linked to their National Insurance number. Tax payments and refunds are all managed on the fly through Bitcoin which can/will also be linked in a later version of the system (to be known as DeathSpiral2.0) to the DWP's new Universal Benefits system.

    Put Iain Duncan-Smith in charge and its a surefire hit. You know it makes sense.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Blockchain and HMRC

      The problem is that all services the public needs would collapse. Due to the fact it would take years to process each months taxation.

      The tax revenue pays for lots of stuff people need. The MPs and Civil servants only actually spend a small percentage of what is raised on themselves.

      Similarly if it was used for DRM, no-one would buy streaming services, downloads, subscriptions or physical media after a few days as it would seize up.

      1. EastFinchleyite

        Re: Blockchain and HMRC


        "The problem is that all services the public needs would collapse."

        That argument has stopped them so far .................

    2. You aint sin me, roit

      Re: Blockchain and HMRC

      So... working on the blockchaingang?

    3. streaky Silver badge

      Re: Blockchain and HMRC

      The problem is that it doesn't (again) actually resolve any real world problem. PAYE takes care of any normal work people do where there's payroll and people's tax affairs are very average (which is most people) - the reason it doesn't actually solve any problem is because it doesn't improve the quality (i.e. accuracy of) of reporting from not-average people.

      I've heard rumblings about transparency in how much tax people are paying (lets say your average Richard "Hypothetical" Branson) and you could record all payments and refunds in a blockchain that's there for all the world to see and it can't be messed with after the fact. Has dual use of you'd never need to keep hold of your P60's. Need proof I've paid tax, HMRC? Go look at the blockchain. I'm running for president and people want to know if I've been paying my fair share? Go look at the blockchain.

    4. WaveyDavey

      Re: Blockchain and HMRC

      Oh, you evil bastard. Well played sir.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is home taping still killing music?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've a sure-fire method for monetizing blockchain. Just send me a couple of bitcoins at @Nigeria419 and I'll let you in on it.

  9. JimmyPage Silver badge


    I didn't need to read past this ... having grappled with it for the better part of a year now, I know that if I were to come up with *any* blockchain development, it would not be using Ethereum.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Is home taping still killing music?

      Yes, just very, very, very slowly...

    3. VinceH Silver badge

      "Is home taping still killing music?"

      I don't know if it was home taping, but when I was forced to listen to some modern crap recently I concluded that something had killed music.

      1. John70

        You'll find it's called The X Factor.

    4. Jon Jones 73

      No. But home cooking is killing restaurants. And killing people if you don't cook the chicken through.

  10. Expathos


    Anytime a financial transaction is enacted between a fan purchasing music and a vendor selling it, there's always a financial risk - it could be a pirate site selling music without permission for instance. Where on earth do you get off on stating that the two parties 'know' each other? Stupid. Statement.

    Yeah, if I buy a CD from my cousin down the street there's perhaps some level of trust, but purchasing music anywhere else always comes with risk, whether it's a scratch on a CD off eBay, a stolen MP3, or otherwise.

    There is no need to record every 'hit play' event in the Blockchain - this is an absurd statement. The only transaction that needs to be recorded is hashed and occurs when, hopefully, the artist sells direct to a fan in the future without all the fat, greedy middle controlling publishing and distribution.

    Do you know what a hash is? Do you understand how Blockchain works? Proof of Work, Proof of Stake, Sidechains on Bitcoin, Permissioned and Unpermissioned ledgers, Private, Public or Consortium Blockchains? Merkle Trees? Elliptic Curve Cryptography? 'Byzantine General' Problem? Double Spending?

    I didn't think so.

    I have to laugh when bumping into reporters who love to grind against popular movements to add to their fragile egos. Particularly when they have no idea what they are talking about.

    This article more or less rips Paul Sanders' work anyway.

    Music benefits from a kind of semi-formality? You mean, it's cool that people can simply steal music and give it away. Personally, I believe in a world where all artists are remunerated for their work and fuck theft. If an artist chooses to give away their music on the Blockchain they can do so, if they want to charge they can also do that. If it comes down to new codecs and a complete rewrite of the status quo - device-wise, I am all for it. Direct to fan is the future and Blockchain allows for full control the artist's intellectual property. If people really want to steal music that people ask money for, they will always find a way to do it. But frankly, it's currently a little too easy.

    I am all for mixing codecs, audio fingerprinting and watermarking to protect intellectual property for artists.

    "Ensuring that the many stakeholders in a single audio file had given permission and were compensated at the point of each transfer would add massive cost and inefficiency."

    No it won't, perhaps on the Bitcoin or Public Blockchain but not a permissioned Blockchain.

    "Listeners to one of Heap or Rogers presentations weren’t told that the Blockchain ledger could only handle three transactions per second."

    Yes the Bitcoin Blockchain perhaps - but not a private or permissioned Blockchain that uses Proof of Stake over Proof of Work. You don't know what you are talking about. I won't bother commenting on.

  11. TRT Silver badge

    An immutable record, you say...

    Dead Monkeys are to split up again, according to their manager, Lefty Goldblatt. They've been in the business now ten years, nine as other groups. Originally the Dead Salmon, they became for a while, Trout. Then Fried Trout, then Poached Trout In A White Wine Sauce, and finally, Herring. Splitting up for nearly a month, they re-formed as Red Herring, which became Dead Herring for a while, and then Dead Loss, which reflected the current state of the group. Splitting up again to get their heads together, they reformed a fortnight later as Heads Together, a tight little name which lasted them through a difficult period when their drummer was suspected of suffering from death. It turned out to be only a rumor and they became Dead Together, then Dead Gear, which lead to Dead Donkeys, Lead Donkeys, and the inevitable split up. After nearly ten days, they reformed again as Sole Marnier, then Dead Sole, Rock Cod, Turbot, Haddock, White Bait, the Places, Fish, Bream, Mackerel, Salmon, Poached Salmon, Poached Salmon In A White Wine Sauce, Salmon Marnier, and Helen Shapiro. This last name, their favorite, had to be dropped following an injunction and they split up again. When they reformed after a recordbreaking two days, they ditched the fishy references and became Dead Monkeys, a name which they stuck with for the rest of their careers. Now, a fortnight later, they've finally split up.

    1. Havin_it

      Re: An immutable record, you say...


    2. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

      Re: An immutable record, you say...

      Where can I get their music?

  12. Caff


    Bitcoin for CV's and job applicants.

    Use blockchain to record your previous work and education details, then through the magic of the blockchain previous employeers and education providers can verify your details and prospective employers can have greater confidence in the accuracy of your CV.

  13. Len Goddard

    Surely the daftest idea for blockchain would be to base an electronic currency on it?

  14. User McUser

    All your blocks are belong to chains.

    With all these Blockchains out there we're obviously going to need a Blockchain-Blockchain to track changes in all the other Blockchains.


  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Worse idea: using blockchain to track report cards for nursery school and pre-K.

    1. Seajay#

      Re: CV's

      That doesn't require blockchain though does it. All that requires is for previous employers to digitally sign your CV. Old boring tech. More importantly, would they bother?

  16. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

    Good lord, he's invented the digital timestamp

    Whatever you do, don't mention RFC3161

    1. Mookster
      Thumb Up

      Re: Good lord, he's invented the digital timestamp

      Exactly. Blockchain is just a <span class="strike">rather</span> fantastically complicated way of timestamping.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Try Hyperledger for anything

    Go to the website, and virtually all that is there is fluff about people patting other people on the back and enough vapor to obscure the planet Earth. The code base is, well, basically nothing published.

    AC 'cause my company believes in Hyperledger. Blockchain, that is real. Hyperledger... not so real, every company wants that key piece of IP to monetize and is reluctant to donate to the free beer crowd.

  18. brighton36

    Look into Provenance

    Jessie Baker of Provenance is using blockchain to notarize fish supply chain management. She's a weird SJW that seems to think that blockchain is will help consumers know where their fish comes from. Isabella Kaminska of FT has a great article for how stupid this project is.

    1. IT Poser

      Re: Look into Provenance

      To be fair I'd love to know where that fish actually comes from. Red dyes, which I am allergic to, are commonly used in farm raised salmon. I've have far too many bad experiences to not want the additional information.

      I fail to see exactly how blockchain will actually work though.

  19. You aint sin me, roit

    Heaping it on...

    From the Guardian article on Imogen Heap...

    "Gupta, a tech scene veteran who’s hard to impress, told me her ideas were “as impressive a piece of engineering imagination as I’ve seen from anybody in years”."

    I wonder what Gupta, "a tech scene veteran who's hard to impress", thought about his Ethereum software that was spectacularly hacked for $50M.

    Or as Wiki delicately put it " an unexpected code path which would allow any sophisticated user to withdraw an arbitrary amount of funds from the DAO".

    Unexpected indeed, an impressive piece of engineering imagination!

  20. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    My conclusion about Etherium is they read Accelerando and decided to get on creating Economics 2.0.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      All you have to do is read the Ethereum website's tagline to appreciate just how off with the cloud pixies these jokers are:

      Ethereum is a decentralized platform for applications that run exactly as programmed without any chance of fraud, censorship or third-party interference.

      applications that run exactly as programmed. Err, is there any other way for an application to operate? These buggers don't write themselves and are not sentient - although some code I've come across may appear to have been written by non-sentients it's the code at question here and if you wrote code that is sentient then in practice that is OK because that's what you write. Except of course when hardware failures cause the code to do weird things due to spontaneous bit flipping and other thankfully rather rare occurences and all manner of other external and physical events.

      without any chance of fraud. This can be achieved by never running the code and never letting anybody near the code should it happen to run. Did I enter my name incorrectly on the system? That's fraud to a certain level of fraud and on many online website registrations you're lucky if I enter that much accurate info. Was the transmission of data over a local network and all other networks (Internet) perfectly secure? Prove it.

      without any chance of censorship. I don't know where in their budget that they're costing for an entirely independent and ubiased arbiter of non-censorship lurking next to every single user of these perfect applications double checking the screen display and the colour of the user's sunglasses (mustn't be rose tinted). Is there any other way of ensuring that there is no censorship whatsoever, ever, possibly, particularly when one might like to censor one's own personal details on occasion...

      without any chance of third party interference. Erm, yeah. The thought police are at it again along with the above mentioned arbiter of non-censorship lurking next to every single user of these perfect applications. Who checks the checkers eh?

  21. Ogi

    Immutable record?

    Sounds very much like the guy read what Namecoin did a few years ago ( and realised it could be applied to band names.

    I don't think it will work, because in order for people to recognise that your cipher block is your name, you need all other alternatives to cease to exist, and for the ownership of the name referenced by the block in the chain to be legally enforceable.

    Neither of these cases are true. Why would anyone care that you have registered a name on the blockchain? As things currently stand I don't see the benefit.

  22. gypsythief

    (At the time of writing) there are 42 votes for "No, I've got one even worse, and will describe it in the Comments", but only 33 comments; 9 people lied.

    Use blockchain to track little greb finks who lie on important internet polls!

  23. Seajay#

    Fundamental point of blockchains

    Blockchains are about using cryptography to replace trust. So they are useful when you want to generate a record of an event (such as a transaction) and there is no trusted central coordinating authority.

    Therefore any idea which goes "The government could use blockchains to.. " or "Banks could use blockchains to.. " or "PRS could use blockchains to.. " is a non-starter. All of those scenarios already have a trusted central point, backed up by law. That means the blockchain is adding complexity and reducing speed for no benefit.

    1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

      Re: Fundamental point of blockchains

      Wait - someone trusts the banks and government?

      Mine's the one with the tinfoil hat and barter goods in the pocket.

  24. Disk0
    Thumb Up

    Online Adverts

    track em with blockchain for optimum molasses loading effect.

  25. Not previously required

    Suggestion for worse use

    Scrapping the barrel, but has El Reg considered blockchain for managing subscribers?

  26. lglethal Silver badge

    With thanks to Pierre de Fermat...

    I have discovered a truly remarkable proof of an absolutely awful Blockchain usage which this margin is too small to contain.

  27. Nimby

    Blockchain for IoT Whitelist

    One can ALWAYS come up with something WORSE. (And then crowdfund it to skim 25% off the top.) How about, for 1 Bitcoin one can register worldwide their IoT control server in the cloud in a whitelist of "guaranteed to not be hacked" devices with Blockchain-proven security? (But how does one come up with a name for something so awful?)

    Not to be confused with the "2 Convenient App-As-A-Service" that you can set up on any trusted cloud server of your choice to automatically receive and enter the second part of your 2-factor authorizations for you. Because everyone knows that 2-factor authorization is even safer when it's done on the cloud.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Whether you shared a life together or just a hazy encounter at a festival, ensure the bonding is preserved in the LoveCoin distributed ledger.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



    Whenever two people have sex, both of them have to record it on the blockchain.

    If one person refuses to enter their details, the other party can enter them on LoveRatChain instead.

    Also, any negative or positive pregnancy test is also recorded, and finally any births.

    That way any paternity disputes, adopted children trying to find their parents, and any other need to know who are your ancestors, can be resolved quickly and accurately.

    Please form an orderly queue to buy shares in this idea...

  30. MiaAK


    To protect people from hate speech on the internet, I purpose a system where all comments and private massages are stored in a blockchain, signed by the sender with a certificate which is linked to their Social Security number. This will solve nearly all problems of today's communication like hate speech, terrorism, cheating husbands, or the use of disturbing giraffe GIFs in WhatsApp.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mutable Blockchain

    By no lesser force than Accenture, reported in the Financial Times. "a professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, have filed a patent for their technology in the US and Europe. It uses a technique called the “chameleon hash”"

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