Art fuels the world. Whether it’s music, TV shows, or movies, billions of people around the world rely on art every single day. Is art a necessity for survival? Probably not, but it certainly makes life much more livable. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that art is valuable, but artists are not valued.
The global performing arts market is a 180+ billion dollar industry. So where does the “starving artist” trope come from? Why is a career in the arts defined by inherited wealth or endless debt? The industry has a fundamental problem: the money never makes it to the artists.
Filled with middlemen syphoning profits from artists who just want to create, the music industry as a whole is overly complicated and shockingly inefficient by design. These archaic and centralized gatekeeping systems limit the artist’s financial stability. Years to receive royalties. Fractions of a penny per stream. The rights to your creation signed away.
Art is valuable, but artists are not valued. We at Tempo want to tackle this problem as a public representative of the ICON network.
“Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable.” — Taylor Swift
Who We Are
Tempo is comprised of a small team of artists-entrepreneurs with extensive experience in the entertainment industry.
Drew Forde, Co-Founder
Violist Drew Alexander Forde, known online as ThatViolaKid, has a reputation not only as an accomplished performer but also as one of classical music’s most recognizable online brands. Profiled in outlets like Thrillist, WNYC, the Detroit Free Press, and Strings Magazine, he was named “one of the titans of Classical Music Instagram” by National Sawdust Log and was called “the future of our field” by Sphinx Organization president Afa Dworkin.
Also highly sought after in popular music, Forde has shared the stage with A-List stars like Alicia Keys, Ariana Grande, JoJo, Roddy Ricch, Camila Cabello, among others. In addition to earning recording credits with the late Mac Miller on The Divine Feminine, Drew also recorded for John Legend’s Grammy-Nominated album, Bigger Love, and Kota The Friend’s album, Everything.
Drew Alexander Forde is currently based in Los Angeles. He holds a Bachelor of Music diploma from Mercer University and Master of Music Diploma from The Juilliard School.
Trevor Bumgarner, Co-Founder
Trevor Bumgarner is a composer who thrives on curiosity and collaboration. From the New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute, several Off-Broadway shows, and scoring or contributing to a variety of films that have been screened all the way from Guam to Tribeca to #2 on Netflix.
Trevor is a co-host of the Faking Notes Podcast which features playful, authentic conversations with artists, influencers, and future titans of the music industry. He is also Co-Founder of Concertize, a platform that efficiently connect musicians, venues, and production companies — facilitating more music in more places.
Fixated on on education, Trevor has taught or developed curriculum for The Juilliard School, The Digital Media Academy, the NY Philharmonic, among others, and is currently Head of Post Production at tonebase, a start-up which is democratizing high-level music education around the world.
He was an inaugural recipient of the Juilliard Career Advancement Fellowship, as well as other accolades including an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award and a New Music USA Grant. He attended The Juilliard School and UNC-Greensboro studying composition and bassoon.
Brian Li, Advisor
Brian Li is the founder of the ICON public representative team RHIZOME, and will be serving as a technical and infrastructural advisor to Tempo. He has over a decade of experience working in the entertainment industry, and has served as electronic music designer for various hit productions including Aladdin, The Lion King, Le Rêve (Wynn Las Vegas), and more.
Brian Li is currently based in Tokyo, Japan. He holds a Bachelor of Science diploma from Northeastern University, where he specialized in Music Business and Music Recording.
Tempo seeks to create a better future for artists in all industries, but our initial focus will be rethinking ownership and payment rails for musicians. Beyond building practical products and services for artists to use, we would also like to partner with higher education institutions to educate students about the potential impacts of blockchain and decentralization.
Our first product, which is already in the initial design phase, focuses on digitization of music ownership and publishing rights. This aspect of the music industry, which still relies heavily on paper-based manual processing, is ripe for disruption. Following the completion of this foundational layer, we will develop a smart contract for streaming royalties to artists, which will be used by a first-party MVP that is currently in development.
With a successful MVP, we hope to work with traditional entities in the music industry to integrate our solution, and cumbersome manual business logic into automated and transparent smart contracts. Following the completion of our first product, we will explore how to leverage tokenization to empower independent creators with tools to build and incentivize their audiences.
We are certainly not the first to tackle the problem of artist exploitation. There have been other attempts in the past, and most of them failed spectacularly. We believe there are three reasons why these projects failed.
- Many projects promising to solve the problem of artist exploitation were founded in 2017 and 2018. During that time, many blockchain projects were still building, and the technology was simply not there to build a meaningful product. Things are different in 2021 — we have developer tools, proven token standards (NFT, STO, etc.), time-tested blockchain networks, and more.
- Many projects did not have the intention of actually building a product. Instead, they were designed to sell a grand idea with little technical merit via an ICO to unsuspecting investors during a bull market.
- Many projects were built on Ethereum. While Ethereum is a market leader in terms of smart contract platforms, high gas fees and slow transactions made many use cases impossible.
After evaluating various smart contract platforms, we decided on ICON (mostly due to Brian not shutting up about it). But seriously, we believe ICON has the primitives, infrastructure, and community in place for us to do something special. Specifically, the five points below influenced our decision making process.
- ICON’s fast 2-second block time allows us to build a product that satisfies our user experience requirements in terms of responsiveness.
- ICON’s Fee 2.0 system and low transaction fees allow us to handle transaction fees for customers.
- UX-focused projects like Bridge allow us to abstract blockchain identity management away. This is very important for mass adoption because we can’t expect customers to use browser extensions like MetaMask.
- DeFi on ICON (e.g. borrowing/lending on Balanced) opens up the door for unique business models.
- ICON’s IRC-16 and IRC-3 token standards will be the building blocks of our product.
Finally, we would like to become a public representative on the ICON network because we intend on using the ICON blockchain as the foundational infrastructure for our products.
Thus, we feel it is important that we have a say in the future growth and direction of the network. Furthermore, we aim to provide high-quality infrastructure for block production to do our part in stabilizing the network.
We can’t do this alone, and we need your help. If you believe in our mission statement and the products we are building on ICON, we urge you to consider delegating a portion of your ICX to Tempo.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing more information about our mission and products. Be sure to follow us on Twitter to stay up to date!
Thank you for your support, and let’s change the world together.