About a month ago, I provided an interview to Justin O’Connell at CryptoCoinsNews. Here it is uncut. It’s the first real time since the launch of Tatiana Coin that I have spoken about the experience at length.
Right now, I just finished up my tour of Prague, Wroclaw, Krakow, and Warsaw with Lyn Ulbricht. We are raising awareness and funds for the appeal for Ross’s life sentence, and also showing the film Deep Web (available on iTunes and on the site directly). It’s been an intense trip, and I have met many inspiring people. I’ll have more on that, and another episode of the Tatiana Show when I get back to town. I went to Berlin for a few days to hang out with the Vaultoro guys, then to Boston to be on a panel at Berklee College of Music, my old school. There are some really bright students there, and they seemed to like the artist coin idea!
By the way, I have the full third album recording, and I’m sorting out distribution, marketing, and money to get it the most outreach. I look forward to sharing the artist coin idea, especially with other artists.
Justin O’Connell: What excites you about the future of music with Bitcoin?
Tatiana Moroz: I think there are incredible opportunities to use blockchain technology in music. There are lower processing fees, the ability to microtip, and of course creating artist tokens like I have done with Tatiana Coin. Bitcoin can revolutionize the digitial rights management process so it rewards all artists quickly and equitably. There are ways to track streaming and use of digital music being developed. Maidsafe has some really creative ways they are exploring to compensate artists for their creations without even asking the fans to pay for the songs. Overall, I think the blockchain can bring fans and artists closer together, and by saving on administrative expenses, those resources can be reallocated toward making more music.
JO: What is Tatiana Coin and how has that project progressed since its launch?
TM: Tatiana Coin was created last year, with the fundraising taking place in June of 2014. Adam B. Levine from Let’s Talk Bitcoin helped me mobilize a great team to help execute the concept. We used Counterparty, and did the crowdsale through a company called CoinPowers. I considered myself the willing guinea pig, providing real feedback on what an artist would want, and also making sure that things were easy enough to understand. The coin idea is very different from other alt coins — it’s considered a meta coin — since the value of it is derived from the content that I create. I wanted to be sure that there wasn’t any pumping and dumping, as that defeats the point. I was really lucky that the people helping me were ethical and totally on the same page with that.
But to be honest, it’s been quite challenging. I didn’t know what I was getting into, and it isn’t a matter of just creating the coin. You have to make it easy for people (especially non-Bitcoiners) to participate. You also have to have a place where it can be used. Since CoinPowers closed unexpectedly in November, one of the main components for the coin’s functionality (having a place to use the coins) was eliminated. Plus, when we were doing the sale, it was complicated because you had to have Bitcoin, then open a Counterwallet, then transfer your coins there, and then send them to CoinPowers. Just describing the process was exhausting!
However, the way I saw it, it was a worthwhile pursuit. Artist tokens seem to be the most accessible way to involve the creative community with Bitcoin. It’s a longer term relationship than just a regular Kickstarter-type campaign. They allow you to connect with your fans directly, and provide rewards over the span of your career to fans who knew you when you started out. The journey of an artist is an incredibly dramatic one; we feel things keenly, and it can be very challenging. Knowing exactly who your fans are and getting their support, not only financially, but almost as members of your tribe through a token system is really encouraging. I think the fans really enjoy it too. It’s like a fan club with rewards, but coinified. I can also get feedback from my coin holders, which can help me be more effective with marketing and giving them what they want.
With the token sale, we collected enough money to fund the entire album, which is my best one yet. (This is my third LP.) I paid my musicians and engineer in Bitcoin, and it was a fun way to introduce them to the idea of cryptocurrencies. I even signed up the studio where I recorded (www.PremierStudiosNY.com) to accept Bitcoin, and hosted a panel event exploring the possibilities of music and Bitcoin. Tatiana Coin is the first ever artist coin, and as far as I know, the album will be the first album ever funded completely on digital currencies.
Now that the album is complete, I am figuring out the best way to market it. I need to fund that, so I am still selling the coins. It’s become SO much easier to use though! Adam and the Tokenly team have created a wallet that is a Chrome extension called Pockets, and we are even able to accept credit cards for Tatiana Coin right on my page. I can personalize the look of the wallet and be creative with the types of items I want to sell. It’s not just digital music: I can sell autographed albums, personal concerts, songwriting and production, or limited edition digital media. There are basically no limits. In the future, I would love to be able to incentivize my fans to share my music on social media by rewarding them with Tatiana Coin. Hopefully, with the help of the Tokenly team, that is not far off.
JO: How can music help Bitcoin?
TM: Throughout history, music and the arts have been a way of speaking for the people. Artists can influence culture and show the truth in a way that can’t be said by people in other professions. There is a great power in the emotional connection to music that transcends lines of color, language, and class. As a musician, I strive to connect with other humans, and hopefully make a positive impact on the world.
The reasons why I love Bitcoin are also very idealistic and in line with my musical aspirations. Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies can be great liberators of untapped talent and productivity around the world. It’s a way to fight poverty through empowerment, and a way to educate people about the truth behind the modern banking system. When I use Bitcoin, I am able to withdraw support for the war machine by starving it of its lifeblood, the inflated U.S. dollar. At the least, it provides competition to the antiquated systems of old and encourages transparency. It is all-inclusive and fair.
These are concepts that artists can get behind and support. That’s why I created “The Bitcoin Jingle.” If “the masses” believe their artists to be truth tellers, then they are more likely to get the reason to use Bitcoin. People talk about a killer app, but I think connecting with people on an emotional level may be a better way when combined with advances in the tech. For example, Red Bull has a recording studio. Why? It’s not because they need to make music; it’s because they realize music “makes them cool” and gives them street cred. I would love to help convert the old music studio model into a crypto-based, forward-thinking template. To explore this on video is one of the end goals.
JO: What inspired the writing of the song “The Silk Road?” What were your intentions for writing it?
TM: I came to Bitcoin by way of libertarianism, so the idea of a free market being tested in real life was very intriguing. I had never used the Silk Road, but I soon learned it wasn’t just about drugs. It was very philosophically driven, and it was about people’s sovereign rights. It was clear that the current approach taken with the drug war had exacerbated the problem it had aimed to solve. The prohibition of one of the oldest and most traded commodities in the world (drugs) simply created an incentive for dangerous black markets and cartels that allowed violence to flourish. Even our own governments benefit from the drug war through the prison-for-profit system and using the prisoners for labor while paying them 25 cents an hour. It’s racist and wages war on the poor by destroying already fragile communities by breaking up families. It has been used as an excuse to militarize our police force and shred the Bill of Rights. Then there are the scandals like Fast and Furious, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Seeing the effects on Ross and the Ulbricht family was horrifying. The injustices of the drug war were no longer just articles I read on my Facebook; it became a real destructive force I could see the results of up close. As the trial progressed, it became clear to me that this prosecution was not about justice or doing the right thing. If it was, then it would have allowed relevant testimonies and it would have answered the questions about how exactly that server came to be found. It would have taken into account the corruption of the agents involved in the investigation. It would have considered the studies showing that the Silk Road made the drug trade safer. To me, with the sentencing of Ross, all semblance of justice was eviscerated.
So with the Silk Road song, I wanted to show the other side. I didn’t want people to see only the vilified version of events, but I wanted them to understand the very real struggle for freedom. I wanted to bring a semblance of sanity and compassion, and help people to see that the prison population is not all murderers and rapists. They are flawed people with problems. The drug offenders that make up a large portion are oftentimes nonviolent and need treatment, not to be locked in cages where they get access to harder drugs and lose their ability to support themselves if they ever get out. Ross did a very brave thing and did it because he thought it was the right thing to do. That kind of character is rare, and it really inspired me.
JO: What are your thoughts on the mainstream music industry?
TM: As a singer-songwriter, there have been many frustrating moments in my career because of the music industry. The most obvious one is of course a matter of resources. I used to be the manager at several high-end recording studios and I used to get really depressed listening to the music coming from the rooms. The artists who were funded generally had a lousy message and weren’t the best talent. Meanwhile, GOOD artists weren’t able to get signed because the industry only wanted 14-year-old artists who were easy to manipulate. The advent of illegal downloading sucked the money out of the system that was already corrupt, making it harder and harder to compete. Downloading had its benefits to the industry as well — more diverse music to more people meant a better world.
Music always provided me great comfort and guidance and a respite from the trials of life. As time has gone on, the genuine quality has died. I don’t feel very much when listening to modern music, and there is no message. In fact, the messages usually encourage the most base behavior. This is so discouraging to someone like myself who grew up influenced by the singer-songwriters of the civil rights and anti-war movements of the ’60s and ‘70s. I think it’s really questionable that while so many people oppose war, there is barely a glimmer of that sentiment over the airwaves. Today’s music is basically about glorifying violence and an expensive party lifestyle that no one can afford. I am not a prudish person by any stretch, but why is almost every music video basically a porno? This music doesn’t resonate with the soul; it’s basically vulgar stupidity.
Being part of a viable indie artist movement — which should be disruptive and revelatory to the mainstream industry — is empowering, but it’s also very difficult. If you are not wealthy, then you have to have a full-time job, and then when you get home, you have to have the energy to create. That would maybe be manageable, but there are recording costs, artwork, marketing expenses, attorneys, and the conceptualization and execution of a strategy. Getting a good manager isn’t easy, and of course you have to worry about getting screwed over left and right. All of this can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars at a minimum. Most artists are not business people, and even for someone like me who is business minded, it’s simply too much. That stress alone is enough to kill creativity.
JO: Do you think that, along with Bitcoin 2.0 industries, “the music industry” will be transformed?
TM: Yes, I think the possibilities are endless. My only concern is that the benefits of blockchain technology will be utilized only by the big companies. The Tatiana Coin concept is about the indie artist, it’s about freedom, and that is something that I hope can benefit all artists, not just the industry that eats them for breakfast. However, we also need the industry. We need people to help artists flourish and to manage all the other aspects that go into making a successful career. We need places to network as well, and come together to grow those communities. Hopefully with these developments, a more equitable, transparent, and efficient system can be put into place.
JO: How has The Tatiana Show been going? What is it? What have you learned?
TM: I started The Tatiana Show on Liberty.me. It’s a live video show that airs Monday nights at 9pm EST, and then we take the audio and put it on Let’s Talk Bitcoin. It’s been a great experience, as I get to interview guests that I find interesting. It allows me to make Bitcoin a bit more accessible, and hopefully bring more people into the fold. I would like to widen the scope of the show a bit in the upcoming months to explore other aspects of life like such as love, the challenges of entrepreneurship, and more and even include some musical performances. I loved doing karaoke with Bob Murphy, and I think that sometimes we need a bit of fun, instead of always taking on the world’s problems and trying to solve them.
JO: Who are your personal favorite musicians?
TM: I love Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, Jeff Buckley, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Young, the Beatles, and Fiona Apple. As far as more modern music goes, it’s a bit more limited, but I like Sara Bareilles, KT Tunstell, Sheryl Crowe, and Coldplay.
JO: How do you listen to music when you listen to music?
TM: I don’t stream music very often, I usually just use my existing playlists or YouTube. I try to buy CDs whenever I can since the quality is much better, but they seem to be harder and harder to use! My laptop doesn’t even have a CD player!
JO: Do you use Bandcamp, ReaperFM (open source recording), Logic, etc. to record ever?
TM: I have been really lucky in the recordings I have done since I have worked at amazing recording studios to which I had access. I also went to Berklee College of Music in Boston, so even when at school, my friends were being trained on ProTools and using giant consoles with incredible microphones and gear. I learned ProTools at one point myself, but I am not very technically inclined, so I try to leave it up to the professionals. Luckily my friends will work for Bitcoin!
JO: What three songs of yours do you enjoy playing the most?
TM: I love Playing the Cards, I always tear up in that song because I based in on real-life stories from new friends I made when I joined the Ron Paul movement. It’s tender, and drives home the horrors of war that last through generations. I love the Silk Road for similar reasons, because it teaches while encouraging compassion and love. And while Masters Of War isn’t my song (it’s Bob Dylan’s) — I love performing it. It has so much depth, and I think it’s very haunting and effective with a female voice. I cover a lot of Bob Dylan; he leaves a lot of room for interpretation and that has influenced my songwriting quite a bit.
JO: What are some of your other projects?
TM: Earlier this year I founded Crypto Media Hub, which is an advertising, marketing, and PR company for the Bitcoin world. I know a lot of startups have a very limited staff, and even if they do have a marketing team, they are probably over taxed and busy. I created relationships with almost all the media outlets in Bitcoin so when that startup is ready to advertise, I can save them a lot of the leg work. There isn’t a standard by which the media outlets sell their spots, some do it monthly, some do it by CPM, and then you have to take into consideration the rotation, so it can be very confusing. The specialities of each outlet in terms of audience varies, and the reporting of statistics is also spotty at best. I can work in tandem with the marketing person to create comprehensive campaigns, and help with PR and strategy. We are also able to create written content for blogs, newsletters, and press releases, as well as video content to explain the ideas behind the companies in a way that anyone can understand.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRrTKrWnu4g the Bitcoin Jingle Demo Version
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZjiGvrTB6o The Silk Road Song