An earlier version of this article embarrassingly misspelled ZapChain COO Daniel Cawrey’s name and erroneously listed him as the CEO, we regret the error.
Talib Kweli’s new album is available on ZapChain for Bitcoin. He previously posted the entire album, Indie 500, a collaboration with the 9th wonder, streaming online a few days in advance of its official launch. Now, it is available in DRM-free Mp3 format in exchange for $12 worth of Bitcoin or $1.29 a track.
Along with the album sales, ZapChain has given Kweli his own ZapChain community, a place where his fans can communicate directly with him.
ZapChain has so far been a community site with laser focus on emergent technologies like Bitcoin, Virtual Reality, 3D Printers and similar subjects. It allows users to tip each other using bitcoin as well as allow posters or companies to run mini contests by rewarding microtips to top posters. We asked ZapChain COO Daniel Cawrey if this was a move towards the mainstream.
“We want to be more mainstream. We want to bring tipping to much a larger audience. In order to do that, we have to expand out of just emerging technology, which is what most of our current communities consist of. Allowing people to create their own communities, as well as letting people sell digital goods in these communities, is certainly a step towards being more all encompassing.”
While ZapChain has always talked about being a marketplace for artists, it was unclear how they planned to go about that. The Talib Kweli deal seems to their first major move in courting not just companies wanting to engage their audiences but also legitimate and mainstream artists. One curious decision is that potential customers have to use their ZapChain account to make purchases and cannot directly use another bitcoin wallet, something we are told may change in the future as the service is improved but isn’t a given.
“This is the first time we’ve done this. We’re committed to improving the experience, and a QR code is something we’ll think about adding in as we improve the product. We plan to make the process of buying digital goods for bitcoin really easy, and you’ll see some innovations included along the way.”
This is not the Brooklyn native Kweli’s first attempt at a new distribution method for his music. In late 2013, he released Gravitas independently, selling it directly to the fans on his own website. Providing him a community on ZapChain may also be a fulfillment of another Kweli’s wish. In a 2013 interview with HipHopDX, he expressed his desire to reach out directly to the fans.
“The first thing that they can expect from Grativas is to have a direct relationship with me[. . .] Gravitas is direct to fans. It’s only available at kweliclub.com. I want your e-mail. You can expect that I’ll have your e-mail and I’ll be e-mailing you things. When you buy with all these different corporations, they have your e-mail [addresses], but the artist never gets it.”
Around that same time, he also launched at station on Radionomy, but that appears to no longer be active. Nevertheless, this newest venture on ZapChain is sure to give him a more direct connection with his fans that already on the platform, the only question is if ZapChain can get the rest of them to show up.
You can purchase Indie 500, listen to demos tracks or have ZapChain give you one free full track here.
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