What’s a Saturday without music and what’s a 21st century Saturday without music on the blockchain? Thanks to Ujo Music, we can combine two of our favorite things in one of our favorite day of the week.
After years of building, they have now finally launched during the Ethereal summit. The Web3 dapp looks pretty simple on the surface, quite fast, but the plumbing is very complex.
We’ll spare you the details because we can’t provide them any better than Ujo themselves. Suffices to say they use smart contracts for licensing information and metadata, while more generally the team has quite a dream:
“We hope to see things like a young duo build an innovative radio service over a weekend without having to go knock on the doors of the record labels.
We hope to see stems automatically uploaded and available for remixing from your favourite DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).
We hope to see the first AI artist license their samples, and then be used in the latest vlog of a YouTube star that is yet to arrive. We hope to see decentralized bands reimplemented on this infrastructure.”
What we do currently see is a fairly ordinary website where you can browse for songs as shown in the featured image.
We picked one album in a fairly random manner because we had no prior information about any of the songs.
That’s the screen we see when we click on the album. Of course you need MetaMask, and we do have that, so we turn it on, and now we’re told we have to sign in.
Some silent feeling of ree goes through our body as we imagine long forms and much effort, but what they mean is we have to sign with our eth address through MetaMask to prove ownership.
That’s a far easier, and even an enjoyable, experience. Because now we’re using complex crypto and all this cool stuff, by just one click.
As that says, MetaMask had a notification, with all set up for us to click sign with Login to Ujo Music.
Ok, now we can buy this. It costs only one dollar, which can be both cheap and expensive for just one song. We have some tiny amounts of eth for test-runs though, so it’s fine, but if those spent eth buy us two houses one day… meh worth it for the pioneers.
Everything is entered into those many fields by itself. We obviously make no changes because we’re as lazy as can be, but we notice that pretty high fee. It’s at nearly 60% of the 1 dollar we want to pay.
Ethereum is not running at full capacity right now, so this is normal or a “cheap” fee. It is so high because we’re probably creating a smart contract itself and just how “cheap” it is, is shown by etherscan telling us we have to wait four hours for a confirmation.
Now that’s our Saturday ruined, you’d think, but Ujo is too kind and gives us access straight away, so we don’t actually have to wait four hours.
But before we go to next step, these fees appear to be way too high. It’s unclear whether dapps are utilizing payment channels or other bundling techniques, nor is it clear whether they can if/when they want to record things on smart contracts.
There are some projects that can assist, like Truebit, and then Plasma of course when it launches, or Raiden when it gets out, so these fees may come down considerably.
It’s fine though, we can afford 50 pence, especially as Ujo Music showed us the above screen pretty much instantly as soon as we clicked confirm purchase on MetaMask.
Once that is downloaded in about 5 seconds, we get to listen to the first song we have heard which has a smart contract on the blockchain.
And we must say we like it, quite a bit actually. Maybe we like it “only” because we payed for it, or maybe it’s because Running Again is quite a symbolic title.
Symbolic because this space is now running again after the 90s led to a pretty centralized internet which gave few people too much power, and power of course corrupts even angels.
So now, we’re decentralizing everything. Including music, with metadata on the blockchain and storage on IPFS.
At this stage we have to enter some dicy waters by giving a very subjective rating which is sort of plugged out of nothing, so can be very wrong.
Someone has to do it though, and bear in mind this is a beta product, just launched, so our rating is specific to the product we test-runned, a web3 dapp that will very much be upgraded. And our rating is for as far as the end user is concerned only.
Now the good bits are that the website was pretty fast for us, like a normal website, with no hiccups, except one. You’ll notice in the first screenshot there is a play button. When we clicked it, it did show those usual music playing menu things at the bottom, but it didn’t actually play. It didn’t play even after we bought it.
You’d think that play button would be as a sort of teaser, a five second thing just to give you feels for the song, but what it is we don’t know because it didn’t work.
We’re very impressed Ujo did not make us wait even for one second after we payed. Well, after we showed intention of paying you’d think, although having the skills of double spending that payment and then bothering to utilize them for one dollar must be someone of a very rare species indeed.
So that decision does make sense, although some months or years down the line we’d be interested to know whether anyone bothered to double spend.
With that being a significant plus, the fee is quite a minus. Now obviously it isn’t Ujo’s fault directly that the fee is some 60% of the underlying payment, but I’m a normiee guy somewhere, I don’t care whose fault it is.
You’d think there would be things Ujo could do to lower those fees, but understandably this is just launched beta, so refinements will probably follow.
Alright, here we go. Our rating is 3 out of 5. They’re the first dapp we give a rating to, so there isn’t an anchor. We don’t think there’s a dapp we’ve tried that attracts a four though, and this is limited to just usability or functionality not the service or the idea etc.
And that no dapp we have test-runned has a four is quite understandable at this stage because most of them have just launched. So Ujo is at the higher end, but with room for refinements and improvements.
Considering the whole thing, however, rather than just end-users feels, we are impressed. It has taken a lot of work for Ujo to get to here, and the end product is very usable.
The aim is to get rid of middlemen or gatekeepers, you can just publish on the decentralized platform directly. So potentially allowing independent artists to gain exposure and perhaps even fame. And if not huge fame, at least some, like the lucky artist we randomly picked.