Updated: April 19, 2023

Copywritten Music Will Love the Lightning Network

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Key Takeaways

How the lightning network could pose a solution allowing copywritten songs to earn more revenue while allowing content creators more creativity.

Disclaimer: These are the thoughts presented by Bobby Shell, VP of Marketing at Voltage. An idea and instance of how Lightning could impact music and content creation.

The Lightning Network continues to showcase ways in which it can create value for global economic actors. Whether you are sending payments via your lightning wallet, earning sats via the value 4 value model, or using any other lightning application, there are ways in which you can earn and take advantage of the lightning network.

I recently ran into a problem that needs to be solved when it comes to music and copyright. I believe the Lightning Network could pose a great solution.

The problem

I was recording one of my son’s “first moments” at a weekend family event and I put together some film and b-roll that I made into a home movie. To help bring more life into the special moment, I wanted to place a popular artist’s song as the background music. I found the perfect song, edited the video, and then posted it on youtube. However, the video was swiftly flagged and taken down for copyright infringement.

I am just a simple guy, running zero ads, and I can’t use the song! PS. Even to this day it has 21 plays. It was made just for family.

I immediately thought about how the lightning network could be leveraged to allow content creators to use any song they choose as well as allowing the original artist to get paid.

Potential Solution

The Lightning Network could be used in a way where a content creator could have access to any and all copyrighted music by paying a designated cost set by the song artist. The original song artist could earn on a per-play or per-use basis for their song in any piece of online content.

  • The artist: Now have the capability to monetize and sell their songs to any and all possible users. No longer are there middlemen like lawyers, etc. who take a cut and have to get agreements signed for the artist to earn. Artists can set what they want to earn per second, per play, or per snippet (verse, chorus, bridge, intro, etc.).
  • Content Creators: Anyone and everyone would now have the capability to use any and all songs and pay a minimal amount per play or usage, based on the original artist’s desires, giving them access to songs and copyrighted material that is usually exclusive to big studios and cash-rich organizations. 

This is all accomplished and paid for with the use of the Lightning Network.

This could look like a public-facing API that allows websites like YouTube, Vimeo, and others to capture the user’s preferences and kick back a Lightning invoice based on a predetermined rule of usage that the artist chooses. This ultimately empowers artists to earn more, music to be discovered at a faster rate, and for creatives to have access to more music for their art.


  1. I deposit 10,000 sats to my YouTube wallet and YouTube holds those funds in escrow to be used as people view the video content I created.
  2. Every time my video generates a play resulting in the song being listened to, I pay a certain amount of sats for that usage to the original song artist.
  3. This allows the artist to earn more without middlemen, allowing more people to discover their music and giving their music reach to a massive creative cohort that normally would not be able to afford this.

Ultimately, this allows young creatives to have access to more forms of music to express their art and benefits more established artists in earning a fair wage from what others deem is valuable to them.

It would get really interesting if these micro plays online added up somehow to song plays with usage to better monitor overall song popularity and usage on the internet with verified times which songs were played.

Another Approach To Lightning Serving Musicians

I can also see how TIDAL or Spotify could innovate their platform. In the long-term, they could move away from a subscription-based model and operate in the same way as Fountain, which is playing a pivotal role in the innovation of podcasting—allowing artists to earn sats per stream and for listeners to commit to streaming monthly sats evenly across the content they deem valuable.

Listeners could even tip a higher percentage to their top playlists or artists that get more of the playtime if they elected to do so. The possibilities are endless.

This technological capability allows young artists to earn money in real-time for the art and content they create. They are no longer waiting for “minimums” from places like CD Baby. Artists could earn bitcoin and sats by the minute or hour based on engagement. 

While this will take a complete shift in the entire industry structure and could move very slowly, this model absolutely puts $ in the hands of creators and out of the intermediaries. Below is a tweet from William Casarin discussing these possibilities.

The future of music is borderless, frictionless, streaming income for the value being created in the market. I am excited for the day when any artist, at any age, no matter where they are located, can have this freedom.

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