- Musician Imogen Heap is working on a blockchain project, Mycelia, that will let artists store all the information about their songs in one place and more easily track payments.
- Heap is self-funding the project with proceeds from the Harry Potter musical, which she helped to score, and ethereum that she earned selling a song for cryptocurrency.
DUBLIN, IRELAND — Grammy Award-winning Imogen Heap is using the proceeds from her score for the Harry Potter musical and a surprise ethereum windfall to fund a blockchain project to help musicians keep track of, and get paid for, their music.
Heap appeared at the MoneyConf conference in Dublin this week to talk about her project Mycelia. Heap wants to create a blockchain-based app that will allow musicians to store all the information about their work in one place. Currently, no central repository exists for information like publishing rights, recording rights, and composition rights.
"It's about how to ease flow of payments, how to ease collaboration, how to grow partnerships, how to make better collaborations on a business level and a creative level," Heap told Business Insider.
"If you're just a new musician out there and you don't know what to do, how do you know where to sign up? This is a guide as much as anything, a way to help the music maker navigate the industry."
Heap admitted that blockchain was not the only way to solve this problem but said she is keen to piggyback on the popularity of the technology, which was first developed to underpin digital currency bitcoin.
"There are many ways to do it," she said. "But for me, it's important to be in this space because it's a growing space and the music industry has to move with the times and I just want to make sure that we're here and prepared — the music-makers are prepared."
Heap has been talking about creating Mycelia for around three years but said she is now taking the idea forward and hopes to have an app by September.
She said: "I didn't expect to be able to develop a thing — I didn't want to, to be honest, I just wanted to make music. I thought if I could just share an idea maybe someone would make something but in the end nobody was doing this thing."
Heap, perhaps best known for her song Hide & Seek, is planning to do a world tour to promote the project once the app launches. She will do 40 shows around the world connected to business conferences.
Heap is self-funding the project and says she has benefitted from her work scoring the Harry Potter musical, playing on London's West End.
"I'm also in a position, thanks to Harry Potter to be honest, that I'm not needing to make money on the next album and the next tour. I've just lucky to be in a position where this magic play is essentially giving me a wage every week, which has never happened in my life before. Who would have thought? Harry Potter is the saviour — well, not a saviour but Harry Potter is enabling this."
She added that she has also benefitted from the surge in cryptocurrencies over the last year. Heap released the song Tiny Human on the ethereum blockchain in 2015, allowing people to download the song in exchange for the cryptocurrency ether.
"People paid $1, or 1 ETH, which was equal to $1 at the time," she said. "That was $200. I didn't think anything of it and then, of course, it went massively up and I took a bit out and put it into the project, and then it went massively down. It went up to £200,000."
Ether reached a peak of over $1,200 per coin in early January before declining in line with the wider cryptocurrency market. Ether is trading at around $480 as of June 14.