Hi everyone! I'm Michael Rhee, founder of Wavlake, a music streaming platform built on Bitcoin. Wavlake allows artists to post tracks and fans to pay those artists in bitcoin over Lightning. My partner, Sam Means of Lightning Store, and I are now building on this initial concept so it is easier for musicians to use and incorporates the growing v4v model standardized by Podcasting 2.0. Happy to answer any questions you all might have about the concept.

I’m also a big music fan, record collector, and occasional songwriter/artist, so would love to talk about anything music-related.

In my life before tech, I worked as a radio journalist and producer in Chicago, Seoul, and Brisbane, so have some experience in media.

And of course open to talk Bitcoin, Lightning, programming, movies, books, podcasts, cooking, running… it’s all on the table. I recently wrote this piece for Bitcoin Magazine if you need a conversation starter.

160 sats \ 5 replies \ @kr 5 Aug

what has been the biggest challenge in building up a library of v4v content on wavlake?

how do you plan to overcome it?

The biggest challenge so far stems from the way I originally set up Wavlake, which was to enable artists running Lightning nodes to register that node with the site and receive Lightning payments directly to their node from fans. I quickly realized this created a pretty high barrier to entry for lots of people who were interested in using a service like this to share their music but had little to no experience in running a server or managing channels. This is why moving forward we are focused on making the process of onboarding content and receiving payments as simple as possible with some out-of-the-box tooling. I think this will allow for not only hardcore Bitcoiner artists to get started quickly but also those who are less familiar with Bitcoin.

Also, the alpha version of Wavlake stored all the music in a site-specific content management system, not an open standard like most podcasts are distributed today. That's another big change -- implementing music on Podcasting 2.0 instead of a closed system. I think this approach will be what brings about massive adoption and innovation in the digital music space.

110 sats \ 1 replies \ @kr 5 Aug

do you see any challenges with onboarding larger artists who may have label agreements prohibiting their content from being shared on other platforms?

Most artists distribute their music just about everywhere so I don't see that particular issue being the main challenge. I think the issue for larger, more established artists is that they are doing just fine in the system that exists today and probably see no need or benefit from using an alternative.

enable artists running Lightning nodes to register that node with the site and receive Lightning payments directly to their node from fans

Did you consider that you originally had the correct model, but your customers should have been record labels instead of individual artists?

It seems to me that there is still a role for record labels to play, and much like Galoy and “community custody”, that could be it.

Yes, labels and syndicates have always been a consideration and continue to be. I think the best solution is one that gives both individuals and teams the tools they need to distribute content and earn payments easily.

How does the platform handle DMCA and copyright laws from various countries?

Wavlake does not take or alter any music owner's copyrights. We plan to keep it that way moving forward. We also want to make sure that every song shared on Wavlake is intended to be shared on the platform, so we will take down any tracks if they shouldn't be there.

Are there any benefits for the music listeners?

Is this more of a V4V like fountain app?

I think there are multiple benefits for music listeners. Before I list them off, let's just use Stacker News as an example of how users can interact with content by using a simple financial instrument: sats. We've seen how this can enable things like giving visibility to the best content, incentivizing great posts/comments, allowing for users to earn... all these mechanics can also apply to a music platform.

So, some advantages for listeners:

  • pay for the music you like
  • get more of the music you like because the artist has support
  • receive exclusive access to an artist or their content in return for your support
  • receive better recommendations
  • have options for where you want to listen, resulting in better discovery
  • not have to pay subscription fees

This is interesting & exciting to hear about & I’ve been waiting for years for this to happen. I was hopeful that Bittunes would succeed but alas they bit off more than they could chew. The aspect about that project that fascinated me was the goal of financially linking artists - fans - curators. Since we don’t have great FM radio stations & DJs any more, coding-in some curation incentives would be helpful for talented but undiscovered artists.

I totally agree that we need better ways for people to curate and recommend content to others. What really excites me about the open content model (e.g. in podcasting) is we can create all different kinds of ways to consume and share that content.

100 sats \ 1 replies \ @sagaz 5 Aug

You designed the initial release this way to launch something quickly in the context of a rapidly changing technology (i.e. the Lightning Network).

As you said in the longer term, this approach doesn’t make sense if Wavlake want to transform the larger music streaming industry at scale.

What we can expect in the upcoming months in terms of how Wavlake are planning to start the large adoption? Ty!

Over the next few months we're focused on building better tools for artists so we can have more music available on v4v. We also want to build a great listening experience for fans that showcases all the amazing possibilities with this kind of music streaming.

100 sats \ 1 replies \ @sb 5 Aug

"At some point in the future, bitcoin becomes the measure of our world. It will be just like airline miles, but for everything."

I love the analogy to airline miles in your article - it's simple and easy for the average person to comprehend unlike most analogies! :)

My question: what piece of media (song, book, art piece, or movie) is most analogous to the story of the Bitcoin Network?

Thanks! Gosh, if I were to pick one I would say the Mona Lisa, because it somehow, magically, manages to look different depending on the context and time in which you're viewing it.

63 sats \ 1 replies \ @k00b 5 Aug

At last night's Austin Bitcoin Club, @defbed alluded to music being able to be shared via RSS. Is this what wavlake plans to do?

RSS, podcasting, and v4v seems to presume that the content is free, and at least in v4v leaves room for donations. Do you foresee alternatives for this funding model or will wavlake simply adopt these standards?

Basically, yes, we see some version of v4v as the future. There is lots of evidence showing that a very small percentage of devoted fans tend to contribute to the majority of an artist's revenue. Most artists, especially those not in the top 1%, actually end up missing out on a lot of potential earnings because streaming platforms don't give fans the optionality to send more than the standard rate to an artist for streaming a song.

We also see a lot of opportunity in the v4v model enabling more direct connection between artists and their biggest fans via distributed online communities and platforms that incentivize fan support. As online media continues to fragment I believe we will see more niche-specific platforms grow in popularity, and people will need to have ways to financially support that content moving forward. We've seen this kind of innovation happen in podcasting over the last decade and I think the same can happen for music. We just need to get out of the mindset that paywalls protect artists' best interests.

Much of this has been influenced by people like Gigi and Sam, so hats off to them for cracking open my mind.

Do you plan to build an iOS/Android app for listening?

It seems like for music, this would significantly improve the experience through seamless integration with the OS.

Platform-specific apps would be great but we don't have the resources to support that just yet.

3 sats \ 4 replies \ @k00b 5 Aug

Is there a story behind the name Vertigo Kidd?

I love Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo". And then I wanted something with an Old West feel. Hence, the name

Vertigo one of my fav movies of all time, btw.

1 sats \ 1 replies \ @k00b 5 Aug

I loved Vertigo too! I went through a huge Hitchcock phase awhile ago.

Nice. I'm a huge Hitchcock fan, too. Even those bargain bin DVD collections of his older, silent stuff are good.

I signed up for the waiting list. I would love to stream my music there 😎

welcome Michael! Looking forward to new WAV!

Why don't you add, share to twitter button and add Album Art and 'pay with lightning' options on the tweet?

How did I not hear about this! I love the concept!

Same with me.

What do you think about the trade off between custodial LN wallet (like stacker.news, you just tip by one press) vs self-custodial, using your own wallet (but much worse experience paying LN invoice for every tip)

I think you described the trade-off perfectly. Ultimately I think users have to decide which trade-offs are worth the trouble and which aren't. As tools continue to evolve the differences might narrow, but I think there will always be some form of this tension b/w UX and custody.

0 sats \ 2 replies \ @ab 5 Aug

Are you solely focused on the artist to listener relationship, or do you plan to expand out in to syncs and other areas of income for musicians?

For example it would be amazing to be able to post music in one place and have a price for listening, but also allow for agencies to also purchase the rights to include the song in a movie or advertisement. All of the splits would be encoded in the contract and sats could be streamed to the artist directly based on upfront cost and usage.

I think a system where the metadata for content is public and includes payment details for that content by default has enormous potential. This could simplify royalty accounting and collection in many ways, as well as the licensing use case you described. In some ways I think of it as a kind of universal API for content payments.

0 sats \ 0 replies \ @ab 6 Aug

Yeah I agree if we could get a standardised system of metadata that would be amazing. Could be built on Nostr!

Does your platform will work like Spotify (subscription) or like 4v4?. Don't you believe that current v4v implementation does fit better than building a new concept?.

Best rapper ever?

That's easy: Supa Hot

Changing the subject now I ask you about the brazilians bitcoiners podcasters?.

Are Wavlake being reaching out by brazilians bitcoiners podcasters?

Why I'm asking this because in Brazil have a very strong bitcoiner podcast community i.e ( @bitcoinheiros ; @LetaHOLD)

Ty Michael Rhee.

Good to know, I'll look into those. Thanks. We want music and audio from all over the world.

Do you like brazilian music?

For example MPB, Bossa Nova, Samba, Sertanejo, etc.

There is interest from brazilian musicians to engage in Wavlake?.

Off the top of my head, I'm only familiar with Seu Jorge and Anton Carlos Jobim, and I love them. Would love to learn about and hear more.

I have spoken with a few artists from Brazil. That's been one of my favorite parts of running the site -- meeting people from all over the world and hearing music I never would have found otherwise!

0 sats \ 1 replies \ @k00b 5 Aug

Favorite musicians?

For organization's sake, I'll have to categorize this.

Singer/Songwriters: Bob Dylan, Nick Drake, Tom Petty Bands: The Beatles, Spoon, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard Rappers: Jay-Z, Kanye West, Little Brother Producers: Rick Rubin, Nigel Godrich, Jeff Lynne Composers: Tchaikovsky, Bach, Beethoven

When a v4v platform for photographers and digital artists?