Updated: September 19, 2022

Bitcoin and Lightning Network Impact on Music w/ Michael Rhee, Founder of Wavlake

Ready to Get Started

Get started building with the Lightning Network Today.


Key Takeaways

Thanks to Stakwork for helping transcribe our Twitter Spaces.

Voltage – 00:00:06:

All right, cool. We’ll dive right in. Hey, everyone. We appreciate you joining with us today. We’re hanging out with Michael, the founder of Wavlake. And the topic of discussion today is, is how the Lightning Network is going to impact music. And we’ve got some really good kind of bullets we’re going to run through and just topics related to how the Lightning Network will impact in the artists, the feedback loop that the Lightning Network creates, content creators, how they can now have access to different types of creative and music and such, and then how the Lightning Network can impact royalties in the music industry. But Michael is one of the first founders and just creators who’s making Lightning a possibility in the music industry and just helping creatives. So we’re excited to have him here. So welcome, man. Thanks.

Michael Rhee – 00:01:00:

Yeah, thanks, Bobby. Thanks for inviting me. I’m excited. 

Voltage – 00:01:05:

Yes, sir. So to kick things off before we dive into these four topics that we just kind of recap, give us a high level on just your, I guess, just ideas and framework on why the Lightning Network is going to help music, and then we’ll dive into some of these topics we have planned for today.

Michael Rhee – 00:01:23:

Sure. So I think, just broadly speaking, I don’t know how familiar the audience is with the Lightning Network and how it operates and how it’s connected with bitcoin, but essentially, it creates this open borderless global network where people can transfer value to one another in a very free and self directed kind of way. And it’s all built on bitcoin, so it inherits all of those same hard money properties that apply to bitcoin on chain. And so what’s nice about that, having the second layer with Lightning is that we have this ability to transmit bitcoin to each other in this near instantaneous way without having to wait for confirmations on the main chain. And so I think as a result of that, it opens up the possibility for all kinds of transactional use cases to operate over the Internet. So not just things like commerce, where you’re buying cups or t-shirts or whatever else in terms of physical goods, but it opens up an entire new realm of possibility with micropayments. And we’re seeing that today. Over the last couple of years, there’s been a lot of development in terms of these social networks or news sites. Stacker News comes to mind, and these Podcasting 2.0 applications where users are streaming Satoshis, the smallest unit of bitcoin, to the podcast creators minute by minute, ten sats, 20 sats at a time. That’s never really been possible before. As far as the existing payment networks go, they’re built on very legacy rails. It is not possible to transmit value in that near instantaneous way, where it is also settled, practically speaking, in the way that we can do it on Lightning and bitcoin. And so I think we’re just at the very beginning of figuring out what the Internet looks like when you have essentially a universal value system that is also interoperable across any platform and service. And the potential of that. I think is I don’t think we fully grasp what that could unlock in terms of the kinds of websites and experiences that are possible and how all of that ties back into music. At least for me. I as a music lover. As a music fan. As a musician. And I know. Like. Bobby. You’re a musician too. I’m sure there are other musicians who are listening in. We’ve tried all these different experiments over the past 20, 25 years as the Internet has sort of come of age of figuring out, like, how can artists create music or podcasts or any other kind of media, any kind of content, and share that and then in return be able to earn some money doing that from the people who love it? And we’ve tried it in all kinds of different iterations and I don’t think we’ve really cracked that puzzle just yet. But I think with a tool like Lightning, we are closer than ever to figuring out how to crack that, how to solve that puzzle in a way that both benefits artists and their fans.

Voltage – 00:05:50:

Yes, absolutely. So that’s a great framing for the conversation. And before this, we chatted a little bit about two things I had brought up to you about how independent artists, like, whenever I launched my first song on Spotify, I had to go through CD Baby or one of these groups that help push your music to these platforms. And the thing that was discouraging was it said, hey, when you hit $25, you can claim your first cash out. And I was just like, that’s going to take forever with how many plays you need to get. So that got me excited. And you actually brought up an even more important point, was this feedback loop that it creates for young artists because you can be motivated and see these amounts and sats come in that are much lower denominated. And that’s actually a pretty impactful thing for a young entrepreneur. Let’s dig into that a little bit and just what that can actually do for creatives.

Michael Rhee – 00:06:43:

Yeah. So, Bobby, just using yourself as an example, you publish your music, it went up on Spotify and maybe a dozen other streaming platforms. How long did it take for you to figure out how many listens or streams or dollars you earned from those platforms? Like from the time of track was played to the time you got some sort of feedback about that? Do you know what the lag was like?

Voltage – 00:07:18:

So it was actually pretty challenging to hear and kind of find out because obviously on Spotify, you can see the plays you have, but like in some of these other platforms, it was actually pretty hard to see that data, like being a new artist.

Michael Rhee – 00:07:32:

Yeah. Because it’s all opaque and I think this is one of the interesting things or interesting aspects and features of the value for value model that Podcasting 2. is built on. And then also experiments like Wavlake, where you have users who are tipping sats to artists for their tracks. One of the challenges as a new artist, when you’re deploying your music and distributing it via some music distributor and blanketing all these different streaming platforms with your music, you’re essentially throwing your music into a black box. It’s virtually a black box, and you might get some sense of the kind of traction you’re getting on the platforms over the course of a few months. So there could be a lag time of two to three months where the streaming platform has gathered some sort of statistics on how many plays you’ve gotten and then that translates into some kind of a royalty payment that is obviously calculated from some kind of internal algorithm. And then it’s split back to the artist in the form of some number. Let’s say it’s $30 for a bunch of plays that happened three months ago. So there’s a pretty long lag time between when someone was engaging with your music versus when you find out about it and see some kind of a reward for that work that you put in. And what’s been really cool to see is with some of the artists on Wavlake. They’re receiving these like small it’s nothing to write home about. But at the same time. As you said. If you’re a newer artist and you’re just working on honing your craft and finding your voice. Those small monetary donations. Those little tips like operate as a really strong encouragement mechanism and it’s also an instantaneous feedback loop. So you could post the song on Wavlake, for example, and that day and that hour someone could hear it, love it, tip you, and you’ll see that show up in your wallet. You’ll see that 21 sats or whatever the user wants to tip you, you’ll see it show up in your wallet near almost immediately. And so I think that can act as a really strong feedback mechanism for someone who like especially if I speak about myself a little bit like making music. As a teenager in my bedroom, I was just recording kind of lame demos on a four track just over and over. And then years later, MySpace came along and you put those up and see how many plays you get. And I think we’re at a point now where we have this really novel monetary network that’s open and it’s completely borderless and anyone can use it. And then on the other hand, you have the ability to pay and support artists that you love. And as a creator, you can not only benefit from that monetarily, but that can be a lot of encouragement that a particular song or some sort of direction you’re going in artistically is resonating with someone out there in the world or a group of people in the world. And that kind of motivation means a lot, I think, when you’re just starting out and you’re finding your voice. And you could have other ways of using this kind of feedback loop as well. For example, if you have a demo or a couple of lines of a verse or a melody, and you want to share that with a group of fans or list potential listeners, and you.

Voltage – 00:12:15:

Can say, like, hey, if you like.

Michael Rhee – 00:12:16:

This, what do you think of this? And then people start tipping because they want to see more of that, or they want you to flesh that out into a complete song. The possibilities kind of again, they go as far as we can imagine at this point. And I think that is a much different model. It’s a very different model from what exists today in these very sort of monolithic corporate streaming platforms, where you’re essentially like, you’re forced to throw your work into this giant pool and you’re out there competing with heavily marketed acts. And figuring out how you can show up in the midst of all that is pretty difficult. Even when you do get some engagement, you won’t find out about it for months. And so I think there’s a lot of potential not only to create a better royalty mechanic for artists, but it’s also a way to encourage.

Voltage – 00:13:35:

Yeah, absolutely. So the feedback loop portion, one thing about that that I love is, like we discussed before, is imagine you’re a young artist and you put music online and you just see like five sats come in, ten sats. Of course, you could obviously see like a million sats come in, but that’s fairly uncommon. But to have these kind of small affirmations towards the art you’re doing or the content you’re creating, or just these positive reinforcements, one of the biggest things I know for anyone pursuing anything psychologically in the world, like when we talk about the psychology of it, is it’s hard to get affirmation. We’re a digital world. There’s a lot of working from home. And one thing I love about Lightning is that there’s this positive and encouraging reinforcement where we can reward each other in minimal ways, but whenever you see that come through, it kind of helps you push through. And I have a friend who struggles with being creative due to not having kind of the reinforcement he needs. And he’s one of the most talented people I know. And I just really wish that was there. And I could see that being really transformative. We’ve heard safety and talk about fiat art and things that are not fiat art, et cetera, and to see true talent be rewarded and have this really kind of grassroots incentive mechanism I think is really important. And it does kind of segue into what I was talking to you about before. As far as content creators, like just being on the web. People have the opportunity to do anything they want and even leverage music in different ways. And there’s obviously a lot of opportunity for people who are musicians to create reach. But there are even ways that people who create content, they could even leverage these creative, independent songs and really unique ways to further their art. So it’s like, how do you see, like, your platform I know and I understand, of Wavlake when I read about it, is you appreciated the Top 40 with Casey Case. I’m kind of like I did as a kid. And there’s a way where people can kind of, like, vote and just cast their sats towards these top songs. I think that’s super fun, where people can vote on these songs. But how do you see that making an impact on just independent music being discovered and then content creators, therefore, like, leveraging this new music and just, like, bringing everyone together in that way?

Michael Rhee – 00:16:12:

Yeah, I think when I originally created Wavlake, as you’re saying, I was thinking of I used to cut out when I was a kid when newspapers were kind of still around. Every Sunday in the Chicago Tribune, they would have, like in the back page of the Arts and Entertainment Center section, there’d be like a Billboard music chart section. It would show you here were the Top 20 all around tracks for the last week. Here are the top r amp b tracks. Here are the top rock tracks, et cetera. And I would clip those out and I would save them in a binder. So, like, week after week, I’d be tracking what songs were on the charts and then see sort of like, over time how they would move up or down. And then Casey Case on Top 40, that was a great show to listen to, which he basically did the same thing, but he told stories around all the music. As a music lover, I’ve always found that to be a really fun and interesting way to discover new music. I had an orchestra conductor in high school who always used to tell us music is not about competition, it’s just about creation. And I still believe in that. I still believe at its heart, all these awards and things like that are kind of meaningless in the long run. But at the same time, it is fun and it is interesting to watch how songs sort of gain in popularity and then Wayne, over time, there is this sort of continuous CLightning of the new with the old. And then you have these really interesting moments, like in the last month, where an old song like Kate Bush is running up that hill has become like the number one song in the world out of nowhere after 30 years or something. Which is incredible to see, which speaks a lot to her as a songwriter and a producer, but also just this idea that as a culture and as a society, we can have these waves of music sort of permeate across a large group of people. As far as the voting mechanism on Wavlake, I think that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I think this idea of being able to not only measure the popularity of a piece of content like music using not only just play data, but also economic data, so people actively supporting a particular track or a particular artist with internet money I think is a really interesting concept. I’ll bring up Stacker News again, like the way that people vote for posts and comments and all that on the site. When you’re using the site, it effectively is just like a point system. It’s not really that different from a like on Twitter or an upvote on Reddit, practically speaking. But there is a different feeling knowing that those likes on Stacker News are actually bitcoin. I don’t know exactly how that’s going to play out, but that element is really interesting to me that you not only have like it’s the same sort of liking mechanism, the same way to promote something that you like, but the fact that it’s backed by bitcoin makes it sort of adds another dimension of interest. But to go back to your question, I think the potential to have this economic system sort of underpinning all of the content we consume. It creates a platform where people can vote things up, promote them to other people, and then other people can discover it. And if they like it too, it can just compound on that enthusiasm. And in the end, what’s nice about that is that the artists, the creators can benefit from that, generate some revenue and are encouraged and supported to continue creating that content. And I don’t think anything like that really exists today. There are these sort of fan club sort of models like Patreon that I think are really great, but in a way they’re not directly connected to the content. It’s sort of like this sidecar where it’s like, okay, I like you as a creator and I’m going to support you, like in this side channel sort of offline from the content you’re creating. And then as a result indirectly, as a result of that financial support, I’m indirectly helping you create all this content that I’ll consume in these other places. Whereas with bitcoin and Lightning we can merge, we can meld all that together, like the streaming the fan club into one user interface where it’s all connected and it doesn’t have to be so detached.

Voltage – 00:22:04:

Yeah. So one thing and guys, we’re going to be doing questions and probably 15 minutes. William, your first on my list. I saw your ask here a second ago. But one thing that’s been on my radar just as a marketer and studying like how people respond to content creation and all of this is one thing I really appreciate is how TikTok has made sounds discoverable because if you’ve ever opened that up and looked at it in the bottom right there’s original sounds down there. And if you click that, anyone can basically syndicate whatever audio file they’ve created, whether they’re leveraging a song, an artist made, or it’s an original audio that you record in a simple video file. And now that’s original audio. And I think there’s a way where TikTok is absolutely going to be disrupted by Bitcoin because just the Lightning Network and be able to have a profile. I don’t think all these social networks on Bitcoin are going to be successful, but like a video platform, because all videos going there, it’s going to be very disruptive. Like one thing that’s fascinating is TikTok had more engagement and watch time than Netflix and it had more engagement than Facebook and Instagram combined. So I think a lot of social companies that are focused on leveraging Lightning or sleeping on this. And what I find fascinating is just the discoverability of audio in general, because even though we’re talking music right now, one thing that’s really becoming more popular is making sampled music. Like we’ve got Mark Revelet or whatever, I don’t know how to pronunciate his name. And Jim Morrison back in the day said, or David Bowie, I can’t remember, he said the future of music is one person running a loop machine and running everything. So like sampled sounds of the future and someone who can bring all of this together and just creating an incentive mechanism for people to be creative and just to take audio samples or to syndicate their own music or to be rewarded for creating something that is valued. Like there’s kids dancing and doing like voiceovers on the internet and you could be making tons of money on it, but there’s these middlemen making it. So I think it’s just wild how the royalty system works. And this is one of the final things as far as our topics you would share with me beforehand, like royalties in general and how people overseas, they experience differently than how we do in America. And I would love to hear more and have you share with the audience how royalties are impacting people outside of the United States and just what that means to them and how Lightning can help them.

Michael Rhee – 00:24:40:

Sure, I mean the royalty system and just the general accounting system for music and licensing music as a whole is incredibly complicated and it’s layered without going too deeply into it. I think what’s interesting and the potential that a tool like Lightning and frameworks like Podcasting 2.0 provide are a way to predefine the terms for using a piece of musical property. So for example, in Podcasting 2.0, there’s this idea of defining splits for a podcast. So for example, if you have a guest, what you can do is set up a split for that episode so that the guest on the episode receives some percentage of any of the bitcoin that you receive as a podcast from listeners. And so if you just modify that idea a little bit, you could apply that to, say, a band that’s producing, distributing a particular track, and the band could say, well, we’re going to split it between the four of us evenly. So each member gets 25% of any revenue that is generated for this particular track. And you take it another step further. Sampling is obviously a really popular way to create music. The accounting schemes for the royalties when you sample a piece of recorded music are not simple, and those are very complex. But you could see where something like that split definition in podcast, in Torato could evolve into something in the future where a musician says, okay, I’ve got this particular piece of work. Or if a musician wanted to use rather a piece of a clip of a song in their own music. They could easily create a split that pays the original creator of the song of the clip that they’re using. Pays some portion of the new song back to the creator of the piece that’s being sampled. And that could go on and on at a number of different layers. So from a global perspective, I think there’s a lot of potential to not only simplify those sort of hard numbers, accounting challenges when it comes to measuring and accounting for samples being used by artists, and then paying the proper royalties to the original creators of the samples of the clips. But you could also see a situation where if that is simpler, you could foster a whole new era of creativity. I mean, back in the 80s, when you had a band like the Beastie Boys make the Beastie Boys, it would be really difficult for them to make Paul’s Boutique today because that album is just rife with samples. And I’m not sure how they cleared everything or if all of the sampling was technically cleared back at the time, but nonetheless, they had the weight of a major label behind them to be able to clear all of those samples eventually. But most people don’t have that kind of administrative and legal team to handle that kind of undertaking. And so I think if we reach a point where the majority of recorded music is online and sort of defined in terms of who owns the copyright and how you pay for a sample to be used from that particular track. It would make it so much simpler for an emerging artist to use a sample and not have to worry about all of that legal and accounting. Those legal and accounting concerns. They could just know that I owe this creator percent X of the royalties of my track. And who knows, that could open up the door to a whole new era of creativity when it comes to sampling.

Voltage – 00:29:26:

Yes. So in these final, like eight to ten minutes, I want to open the floor because I know, I think there’s a lot of musicians here. Everyone loves music, and I feel like we all have opinions and it’d be cool to pick your mind and others. But on Friday, and I mentioned this to you before, I’m dropping a little article. It’s like a 1 minute read on how I think Lightning could help just content creators who are not musicians. And even though I am a musician, I wanted to make a video file documenting my son’s life. I tried to use a song that was copywritten. I knew I couldn’t use it on YouTube because I get the Internet. And when I tried to post it, it was flagged immediately. And I was just like, cool. At least I tried, but I was just like, how cool would it be if I could pay via Lightning? If I wanted to use this audio file, an artist could say, I’m going to charge this many sats per listen, and it could almost be fragmented to where if someone watches 1% of the video, 10%, 20%, I want to be able to pay a small fee to allow people to watch it. And the thing for me is, I only have family members listening. I might have 30 views in like a one year time frame, but I want my mom and dad to hear, like, what I’m creating. And this obviously could scale to an infinite amount. But the thing is, it removes middlemen. You brought up some points where people could sample music, like there’s even bigger ways that can be used, but I just feel like that is transformative to the industry and it just gives people access to things they didn’t have before, to create movie scenes that are more compelling, to create music that is more sonically beautiful, and to just reshape history in a way. And I think like Steve Jobs said, no ideas original, everything’s stolen, or whatever. And it’s just like hip hop was based off samples. When you look at the most popular music, it is hip hop and rap music. And to think about how things in the past can be repurposed for future innovation, it’s abundantly clear that that’s necessary.

Michael Rhee – 00:31:24:

If I can just add one more thought to that, to everyone’s detriment. I think we’ve been conditioned into thinking that the copyright for content I think we’ve been conditioned to thinking that all content should be locked down in this really severe and restrictive way. And that’s the best way for artists and creators to be recuperated for their work. And I think that’s a fallacy. I think this idea that we have to lock everything behind paywalls is not necessarily beneficial to the creators. If anything, what we’ve seen is that these very large platforms have been able to derive enormous profits off of this model. And just because content is available online doesn’t necessarily mean you lose the copyright to it or the rights to it at all. Gigi has written really interesting stories about this about this value economy and this idea that content online, it’s incredibly trivial to make a copy of an MP3 or a video file or any other media for that matter, on the Internet. And so with that in mind, does it make sense for us to create all of these barriers to entry and barriers to sharing? I think that’s a big question that we’re going to be exploring with Wavelake over the next couple of years. Is challenging that concept and also challenge the idea that artists are benefiting from the current regime?

Voltage – 00:33:30:

Yeah, absolutely. I love the opportunity that’s open in music just with Lightning and what it can create. And I know it’s probably challenging to develop and to create this and more importantly, to get these people that run the music industry to integrate it. But William. I’m going to open the floor to you raising your hand and everything. But one thing I’ll share before we do that is whenever I was listening to a space last week about decentralized identity and how people can have the option to have one or multiple identities. What I really like that the group was sharing is in the space that people were asking questions like. How will this be adopted? And the long answer from, I think it was the TBD team, when the representatives that were there, they spoke out and said it’s not likely at all any of these leading industry folks will do it, none of these companies will. It’s going to be someone on the fringe or a small group that creates it. And that’s going to be the thing that really triggers and influences some of these larger organizations. And in my belief, I think there’s going to be tons of acquisitions. Bitcoin and Lightning is going to disrupt everything in the world, and these larger institutions are going to try to acquire these companies. And that’s going to be the next level of kind of like this bitcoin, I guess, in Bitcoin Twitter, like the headbutting, like, do we or do we not get acquired? And that’s going to create a lot of division in the community and people who’ve been here for a long time. But that’s a topic for another call. Michael, if it’s good with you, I would love to open the floor and just kind of let everyone here discuss a little bit about Bitcoin Lightning and form some questions. Does that sound good?

Michael Rhee – 00:35:08:

Yeah, that sounds great.

Voltage – 00:35:09:

Awesome. All right, William, I’m going to pull you up here as a speaker. And anyone else who would love to ask a question, please feel free to raise your hand and we’ll pop up.

William Casarin – 00:35:24:

Hey, guys.

Michael Rhee – 00:35:27:


William Casarin – 00:35:30:

I like a lot of the things you said. I’ve been working in this kind of industry for I used to before I worked in Lightning. So I managed payments for a fairly large record label. And what you guys were saying were spot on with a lot of. The issues right now in the music industry, kind of like the traditional, because when we got into it, I was working for Monster Cat at the time, and artists were not even really getting paid, like, on time or regularly. And this was a huge problem, because if you want these young kids who are making music to want to be motivated and to work, they need to be getting paid month to month. So that whole feedback idea that you guys are talking about is exactly what we saw at Monstercat. So just being able to pay them monthly, which is actually was unheard of at the time, is actually really important. And I think Lightning can even do this better. Like, paying monthly is great, but getting paid real time is that’s something that Lightning can do easily. And that’s what it should be. It shouldn’t be like and the main reason, the fact that it was even hard to do it monthly at Monstercat was a lot of these platforms. So you distribute it through something like Tune Core, but the individual music distributors would have different payout schedules. Like, I think Beat Poor or whatever that one was, like, not that quick. And then there was some platform that was like more two to three months. So just being able to take all those spreadsheets and put them on into like, a monthly payout, which was actually pretty difficult. So there are just a lot of inefficiencies right now that I feel like Lightning even just if you’re running a label just on the payments, just on the payout side, if you could just pay out all the artists over Lightning. So I think we’re using wire transfers and PayPal, and it was just so inefficient and just like, there’s so many middlemen. Anyway, I feel like there’s so much to say, and I feel like you guys michael, you’re on the right path. Lightning is totally going to revolutionize the music industry, and it needs to because it’s so inefficient. Maybe I’ll say one more thing, which is I feel like right now, labels, they’re kind of really gouging artists. I’ve seen 2030, 40% cuts. Granted, they are doing a lot of promotion, and that’s important, but I don’t know, I just feel it’s, like, kind of wrong. And there’s nothing artists can really do it’s because, okay, well, they’re being promoted. They’re getting onto all these platforms, and they’re providing that platform, but we can do that without the labels. Maybe the label should be getting a smaller cut and just getting paid out as a split instead of just managing all the contracts and I don’t know. Anyway, I’m really excited what you guys are doing, and I’d love to see where this goes. Hopefully, Lightning gets more popular in the music industry. So yeah.

Michael Rhee – 00:38:14:

That’s great. Thanks, William. Yeah, I think some of those stories are the reason that I wanted to try and build this and move things in. Hopefully, a better direction. So, yeah, it’s nice to hear, or I guess it’s encouraging to hear that we’re on the right path, so I appreciate that.

William Casarin – 00:38:42:

Yes. My main concern is everyone’s so entrenched in the old way of doing things, and I found that was the hardest thing. It’s just even trying to convince the artist to get paid out in Lightning or bitcoin, they’re like, what is that? So there’s a lot of education to move on, but once they start seeing like, hey, I can start making bigger cuts, if people start using this stuff, then maybe it’ll happen. But yeah, it just can be hard to it’s going to be education mostly.

Michael Rhee – 00:39:04:

Yeah, I agree. I also think there’s a lot of potential in making bitcoin transparent to users who maybe are less educated about bitcoin or maybe skeptical about it. I know there’s different opinions about this, but in the same way that some tools sort of use bitcoin in the background today and users don’t necessarily need to know that they’re transacting over Lightning. I think I wouldn’t be surprised if we see that trend with more and more applications in the future, where you just treat it like money and we don’t need to get into all of the you don’t need to get into all of the economic theory with every single person who’s using it. Not that that isn’t important, but not everyone has 90 hours to learn about Austrian economics.

William Casarin – 00:40:18:

Yeah, for sure. I just want to say one more thing that came to mind, and you were talking about this idea of the opaqueness of the contract splits. In some sense, right now, if you’re a record label, all of your contracts are pretty much just like pen and paper and there are some terms and that are like somewhat but for the most part those are kind of hidden away. I think the music industry could really benefit from some type of open protocol that has all of these splits in open format that everyone can see in public. Like, that is in some sense controversial because sometimes the splits aren’t supposed to be private. If you’re doing some type of if there’s like the artists who don’t want to be known on the contract. But maybe there’s some ways to hide that information in a public protocol. But just having it in the open instead of behind all these labels. That’s how the labels have control. Because if they can control the splits. They control the terms and then ultimately. And it’s not interoperable protocol. Then there’s no way to get out of that. Right. So that is, I think, important going forward. It’s like having an open protocol for contract splits and then once you have that, you can actually just execute Lightning on top of those. So maybe that’ll happen one day, but that’s just another thought I had.

Michael Rhee – 00:41:29:

Yeah, for sure. I think that’s an interesting point. I’ve spoken with a couple of people who are interested in using Wavlake, who run and manage small labels. I think tools like Lightning and music industry built on Lightning doesn’t necessarily remove the need for something like a label. I think a label can still be really valuable, especially in terms of marketing and booking and sort of other administrative tasks. I think there’s still a role. It’s just we can sort of simplify a lot of the accounting, and like you said, some of those split, some of those royalties could be much more in the open, and a label could manage some of that for an artist. Like, if there’s a ghost writer, for instance, that doesn’t want to be named as a contributor to a track, a label could manage that for a group of artists.

William Casarin – 00:42:33:

Yeah, I think a label should just be a split like any other artist. It’s just like a marketing split or something. But considering they have control in the power, then you can’t really do that. But I don’t know.

Michael Rhee – 00:42:45:

Yeah, but if the contract is transparent, then artists can compare their deal with others and be able to make more educated decisions about entering into agreements.

William Casarin – 00:42:56:

Right, exactly.

Voltage – 00:42:59:

Right on. All right, guys, good conversation. Andrew, what’s up, man? You’re the only second person who’s raised your hand, so let’s dive into what you got.

Michael Rhee – 00:43:06:

What’s up?

Andrew Beglin – 00:43:08:

Yeah, first, just thanks for having us base and Michael for kind of walking through what you’re up to. It’s been really exciting for me. I’ve kind of seen Wavlake pop up but hadn’t dug deeply. So, yeah, just thanks for that. It’s super cool. In my pre bitcoin life, I might have called myself a musician at one point in time, and both playing and listening to a lot. And in recent times, I’ve been trying to find out how to bring those passions back together. I think this is an awesome way to do it. And yeah, just on another note, so kind of related to what you were just talking about around the labels, I have a cousin who is a producer and who I’ve been I mean, he’s orange filled already, but I’ve been saying, all right, you got to be accepting Lightning for beats and publishing your content. Maybe I’d love to hear about where you are and where you’re thinking in terms of somebody who’s maybe promoting their beats on their own site or something like that, like integrations, things like that. I’m just curious about kind of where you’re at and where you’re going.

Michael Rhee – 00:44:23:

Yeah, I think I said earlier, I was talking about demos and song snippets and things like that, that people might want to test out and get feedback on, and if they receive a certain amount of bitcoin, they would flesh out into a song. I think that model could easily apply to a producer who’s publishing beats, and then if someone wants to sing or rap over one of those beats, there should be a pretty simple way, at least technically speaking, for the singer, rapper, group, or whoever, to basically pay out some portion of earnings to the producer of the beat. So I think that is technically feasible. I think there’s a lot of, as I mentioned, the music industry and how accounting for publishing and royalties and licensing works. The legal part of that is pretty complex. So I think that might be something that stands in the way of that. But at the same time, we don’t necessarily have to like, a new producer doesn’t necessarily have to ascribe to that royalty or licensing model. They could say, well, I own the copyright to my music. I want to publish it this way and earn royalties over Lightning in this manner. I think that’s also entirely possible. It’s just creating enough of a wave of people who are doing that that makes it commonplace that I think that’s the point where things get really interesting. I will say in terms of like, where I want to take Wavlake over the next year, it’s come to my attention, working with the artists that we have, that the onboarding process is just way too difficult. So people who are interested, like musicians who are interested in distributing music over this value model on Lightning, there are a lot of hurdles, there’s a lot of legwork and kind of technical acumen required for someone to be able to do that successfully. And depending on your patience, it can be kind of a frustrating experience. And so that is what I’m determined to fix and improve going forward. So that hopefully anyone who’s interested in producing content that is distributed over this open payment network where they can go directly to listeners and fans and be supported directly via Lightning payments, that’s the direction I want to go in and to support enabling as much of that content as possible. So I’m definitely interested in addressing that particular use case that you mentioned. I definitely could see it fitting in to that kind of model.

Andrew Beglin – 00:47:46:

Awesome. I see Williams popping hand up. Go ahead, William.

Michael Rhee – 00:47:51:

Yeah, I’m just wondering if you guys.

William Casarin – 00:47:53:

Are seeing yourself as just like another distributor. Like, I would just enable you in my tune core distribution or you guys trying to do something differently in the sense that are you looking towards more like the value for value podcasting model? Maybe you have an app that just streams that. What do you guys like looking to do exactly in terms of your model?

Michael Rhee – 00:48:15:

Yeah, I think a little bit of all of that and then a few new and different things. So, yeah, we’re going to be making some changes and announcements over the next month is so I don’t want to share too much right now. But yeah, I guess without revealing everything like the distribution that you’re referring to, we definitely want to have some element of a service component that helps artists just have their content available to people in a readily available way. But we also want to tap into the open networks like we’ve seen in the podcasting space. So one of the really great things I think about podcasting over the last decade is the fact that it’s all just on this open standard. You just have these XML feeds and they go out and anyone can build a podcast player that indexes a bunch of podcasts and tries to compete on the best experience. I would love to see that for music as well. And so that’s what the combination of those things sort of running on Lightning are what we’re going to focus on.

Andrew Beglin – 00:49:42:

Yeah, I think last thing I would just say is kind of double bringing back your point about Stacker News. Every time I use a Lightning site or app that has sats built in, I mean, it’s crazy. It’s actually fun, right? I don’t think my grandkids are going to believe how many staff, but I spent tipping people for their thoughts and ideas. But I’m excited about the same thing coming to music. So cheers and nice work.

Michael Rhee – 00:50:17:

Thank you.

Voltage – 00:50:18:

Good deal. Nate, I know you have some questions or a couple of things you wanted to ask. Was there anything that was top of mind after this conversation you wanted to ask?

Michael Rhee – 00:50:27:


Voltage – 00:50:27:


Nate – 00:50:29:

Actually we pretty much covered it. I’ve just been sitting here thinking about what could be a good hub that an artist can upload their music to and that is the hub where they can sort of see their analytics and metrics and stuff and then people that want to use the music somehow get permission through that. I don’t know, I’m just sitting here thinking of like a cool sort of like a music hub for your video that you had with your family and stuff. It’s like you go to the tub and you pay some sats and then you get to use it, sort of thing and those sats go directly to the artist. This is all really exciting to me though, I’m totally in it. So thank you Michael, for coming and talking to us about it.

Michael Rhee – 00:51:15:

Yeah, no problem. It’s been fun. Thanks guys.

Voltage – 00:51:20:

Wonderful. Well, Michael, thank you so much for joining us. We’ve had some Twitter spaces cut out at the hour mark and just disconnect us so we’ll call today. But this has been awesome and I’m really excited to see what the Lightning Network provides for content creators, musicians and everyone across the board. So we appreciate you joining us.

Michael Rhee – 00:51:43:

Awesome. Thank you, Bobby. Yeah, I enjoyed it. 

Subscribe To Our Newsletter