Web3 and Me

MBW Views is a series of exclusive op/eds from eminent music industry people… with something to say. The following comes from Scott Cohen, CEO of (and investor in) JKBX, which intends to offer “fans, retail investors and music lovers” the opportunity to invest in music rights. Before joining JKBX in 2022, Cohen was Chief Innovation Officer at Warner Music Group. In 1997, he co-founded The Orchard, the artist/label services company which is now owned by Sony Music and operates 45 offices worldwide.

Web3 doesn’t exist. At least not as you might think about it. Web3 is a concept. It’s an ethos. But it isn’t a technology. Yet, that is how people talk about it.

And how a person talks about technology tells us a lot about both the technology itself and the person. For instance, if you actually know the technology you are using, then most likely you are an “early adopter.” When a technology is truly mature, you don’t even know it exists, let alone talk about it.

Remember when we knew digital music file formats by their acronyms? WMA, AAC, WAV, MP3. Do you know the file formats used by music platforms today? Do you even care? The technology behind digital music today is widely adopted, therefore making it largely completely invisible.

This is not the case for Web3…yet. Right now the chatter is all about blockchain, coins, tokens, crypto wallets and NFT’s. But the real power of Web3 is not the underlying technology. The real power is the benefits we will realize from using it.

When the crypto ice age begins to thaw, we will start to harness the true potential of Web3 in a way similar to what happened following the Dot Com crash of the late 90s. It wasn’t about the technology anymore but what we could do with it. It started with Web1.

Web1 was the read-only web. It made everyone an “expert”. It took the offline world and put it online. It seems so simple and obvious now, but absolutely transformational in the 90s. Information was at our fingertips. Literally.

As we tapped away on our keyboards we could access information in seconds — actually minutes with slow modems and early stage search engines. In the past that would have taken hours, days, or even weeks. When was the last time you went to the library to search for information? It seems so antiquated. But that is how we had to do it back in the day.

Web2 is the read/write web. It makes everyone a creator with a voice. There used to be a clear dividing line. A few people created and the remainder consumed. Music, photography, video, writing: with Web2, the line blurred. Everyone began creating and posting content, and social media exploded.

Web3 is the read/write/own web. In other words, people retain their existing ownership of their content, ownership of their data and control of their permissions, and localized and personalized AI. And those that contribute to the network will be rewarded.

As I aggressively march towards the public launch of my new company JKBX, we will obviously be incorporating Web3, but I bet you won’t be able to spot it. You will feel the benefits without noticing the tech. And that’s when we will know we’re on the right path.Music Business Worldwide

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