EMPIRE just paid a $1m advance to an artist in Bitcoin via Cash App

Money Man with EMPIRE Founder and CEO Ghazi Shami

We’ve previously noted how the music industry is getting increasingly close to the crypto world.

UnitedMasters, now valued at $550 million, recently struck a deal with Coinbase to allow indie artists to get paid in cryptocurrency for example.

Meanwhile, HYBE, the publicly-traded Korean music company behind K-pop stars BTS, just announced a joint venture with fintech firm Dunamu, which operates a crypto exchange called, Upbit.

This week, we learn that independent US label, distributor, and publisher EMPIRE has paid a $1 million advance to an artist entirely in Bitcoin.

That seven-figure sum was paid to Atlanta-based artist and cryptocurrency investor Money Man ahead of the release of his new album Blockchain, which is out on Friday (November 12).

EMPIRE says its payment to Money Man marks the first advance paid entirely in Bitcoin to an artist, by a record label.

Founder and CEO Ghazi Shami posted a video of the  transaction on Instagram this week, which was made via mobile payments platform Cash App, which also recently launched Cash App Studios, an initiative aimed at funding artists’ projects.

According to the media release announcing the news, Money Man “bought himself out of his previous record label contract through his earnings from early investments in Bitcoin”.

Speaking on a panel called “Pay Me In Bitcoin” at the Bitcoin Conference in June, Money Man explained that in “around 2014 when [he] first heard about it [he] started investing early”.

Added Money Man: “It was just a few hundred dollars, and it went up and skyrocketed, so [now] a lot of times, I get paid for features in Bitcoin.”

Shami founded San Francisco-based EMPIRE in 2010 and the company has played a key role in launching the careers of multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning artists like Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B, DRAM and Anderson .Paak.

According to EMPIRE, its “software for distribution, analytics, recoupment, and royalties, has offered a level of transparency unprecedented in the music industry since it was founded in 2010”.

“Ultimately, the peer-to-peer nature of [Bitcoin] and how fast you can get money to somebody is what’s most important. that’s why I’m investing a lot of time and energy into it.”

Ghazi Shami, speaking at the Bitcoin Conference in June

Speaking on the same panel in June, and commenting on the use of Bitcoin in the music industry, Ghazi Shami, said: “From my perspective, it was about the efficiency the speed, [and] the transparency.

“[The] traditional financial sector is a nine to five or nine to six sector and the music business is a 24/7 operation. I’ve always found it pretty absurd that if I cut a record deal on Friday, I couldn’t pay somebody until Monday via wire or ACH transfer.

Added Shami: “We’re also headed into a direction where we make thousands and thousands of micro payments every month for … artist agreements, royalty splits. It only felt natural to be able to move to a system that’s transparent.

“With blockchain ledger efficiency [and] speed, you could pay somebody on the other side of the globe in 30 seconds. I don’t need to get their BIC number, their swift number, their routing number, their account number, [or] their address.

“Ultimately, the peer-to-peer nature of it and how fast you can get money to somebody is what’s most important and that’s why I’m investing a lot of time and energy into it”

 Music Business Worldwide