The looming .ETH domain IP problem

Do we have a problem looming with .ETH domain names?

If you’re not in the loop, you might have seen this trend on Twitter for people to post their .eth domain name in their username – e.g. basgras.eth in Bas Grasmayer’s case. The purpose of these domains is to provide a friendly, memorable URL for your Ethereum wallet, making payment transactions a little easier to resolve, because the actual address is a monstrous string of numbers and letters. If your .com domain is the memorable resolution name for the web server where your band’s website lives, the .eth domain is the same but for the band’s wallet. Or it should be anyway.

Ever one to stay across these things, I bagged motiveunknown.eth and figured at this point it might be wise to check some of our clients’ names. After all, securing this kind of IP is pretty important – all the more so when the domain is less about hosting a website and more about appearing to be the bona fide crypto wallet for a band or brand.

That’s when I learned with increasing alarm that every artist name I could think of had already been registered. Now, granted I might be doing some a huge disservice, but a quick poll around managers and colleagues concluded that none of these registrations were legitimate.

“So what?” you might ask. Well, if these are direct links into crypto wallets, the implication is that someone can pose as an artist and scam people into paying money direct to them. Someone could sell NFTs as the artist and receive funds into what appears to a layman to be the legitimate account.

Digging slightly deeper, the bigger problem is that I could not find any recourse for dealing with domain squatting. Given the far more anonymous nature of crypto in general, this could be a massive headache to address – and, if only based on me sitting there typing any artist name I could think of into the .eth domain search engine, not a single artist name is free to secure now.

I won’t claim to be an expert in this space – if anything I am at best a passionate novice, something I’ll be writing more about soon – but it strikes me that there might be a huge IP issue looming in this area in general. So, if you’re a manager, or an artist, or a label – anyone working with artists at all – you might want to look into securing your .eth domain now. At worst, it’s could be $100 you won’t get back; not a king’s ransom in the grand scheme. At best, it could be the equivalent to grabbing that crucial .com domain, with an ever-more central role in all things crypto and ecom. Don’t hang around on this one.

Don’t Blame Radio 1: How An Obsession With Stats Is Damaging The UK Music Business

This article first appeared on Drowned in Sound on May 30th 2014

BBCRADIO1A recent article for The Guardian went behind the scenes at Radio 1’s playlisting meeting, chatting with those on the current selection board and generally revealing how decisions on what’s goes on there are made. Unsurprisingly, social media stats get referenced a fair bit, with YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other public data being considered when discussing whether or not an artist should win a spot on the station’s playlist. Whilst exceptions are made (Clean Bandit are referenced as an example, where online stats remain low but R1 has still opted for support), by the end of the article the writer concludes that “it all feels so soulless”, lamenting the days when Peel could play what he wanted and took risks.

(I think the first myth to debunk here is that Peel ever represented the output of Radio 1. Whilst Peel was blowing my mind with weird combinations of Napalm Death, The Fall and even a band called Mousefart, the primary output of The Nation’s Favourite was still “characters” like Dave Lee Travis and Simon Bates. Whatever state Radio 1 is in now, I think we should remember that once upon a time the daytime output included a man who built a career on a sound effect that went “Quack quack oops!”. But I digress…)

For those of us working in the music industry, Radio 1’s obsession with public stats has long been a bone of contention. The main reason is because at different times it felt like that focus on the public stats was myopic. There’s also been whispers that labels were buying “fans”, views, likes or whatever other metric was rife, with marketing departments simply putting down £100 for 100k views so their plugger could then rock up to the R1 producers and excitedly squeal “just LOOK at those numbers!”.

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