Catalog: Where Music Is Worth It

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December 23rd, 2021

This post was originally published when Catalog launched on March 9, 2021.
We’ve moved it to Mirror to live with our other entries.

What we are

Come to Catalog to press, trade and listen to one-of-one digital records — artist certified, provably authentic works. Artists instantly receive 100% of sales, plus a self-selected share of every resale, without relinquishing their copyrights. Fans can trust what they’re buying is genuine because we verify every artist. Catalog records remain available and intact on the blockchain, even if our platform goes away.

Where we’re headed

All of the above, plus a collectively owned, permanent, interoperable music archive with built-in support systems for artists who don’t have audiences or resources.

How we get there

While we know we won’t meaningfully address the problems we’re here to help solve if Catalog isn’t accessible to all artists, we’re starting small and moving responsibly. Over time, as we develop the infrastructure to open our doors further, Catalog will serve as a bridge to this new world for many.

Our launch today reflects months of conversations with, and feedback from, folks in the trenches, including the 20 brilliant artists kicking things off with us. This is our foundation. Welcome to the early days. Over the coming weeks we’ll be rolling out fixes and additional platform features and in the following months we’ll be experimenting with formats that drive value to music makers who don’t have the world watching (yet). All the while we’ll be building what we need for a successful transition to a community-owned Catalog.

We (you, us, etc.) will benefit from Catalog’s permissionless architecture, which makes it easy for other developers to build below, above, or beside us and plug into what we’ve built. We’re excited to support and develop the Catalog ecosystem and expect to see a number of different upgrades including auto-splits on sales, new auction formats, fractionalized ownership of records, better revenue and distribution tools, and more.

Why we’re doing this

You know why we’re doing this. Many of music’s problems stem from retrofitting nuanced communities into arbitrary business models. That’s why we don’t have one yet. The tech at the heart of Catalog may be young, but it’s here to stay. Now’s our chance to shape where it leads and leverage it to benefit those most responsible for music’s value: artists and fans. To get it right, we must work in lockstep with our community and share in the upside of those efforts.

What’s next

Catalog is both a working product and a work in progress. Are we proud of it? Yes. Are we going to tell you it’s a revolutionary solve-all for every ache, pain, and malignant cell in the music business? No. Not yet. The technology behind Catalog is early and far from perfect, and we do not pretend to have all the answers.

When the dust settles post-launch, we’ll double down on what we’ve done for months, speaking with, and listening to, members of our growing community in pursuit of one goal: building a place where making money from music isn’t a miracle. It’ll take a delicate mix of passion, patience, and constructive feedback to make it work. We’re grateful to have received nothing less from everyone who’s helped shape Catalog so far.

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Catalog is one project in a chorus of many, tinkering toward a more equitable world for music makers. Much love to our friends at Zora, Foundation, Audius, Ampled, Bandcamp, Resonate, and others determined to make this new world a reality.

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