This groupmuse happened on Thursday, September 16, at 12:00 PM EDT.

This is a Virtual Groupmuse.

Connect to great musicians and a warm and welcoming community over live performances streamed into your home.

Groupmuse and the Blockchain: Community Currencies with Jake Vartanian

Groupmuse and the Blockchain: Community Currencies with Jake Vartanian

Thu, September 16, 2021 12:00 PM, EDT

This conversation will last for one hour, from 12 noon EST to 1pm EST

At a moment of unfathomable change in the world, Groupmuse stands ready to use all available means to make the world a better place for musicians and musical traditions of the world.

Live concerts aren’t coming back like they were, many have screen fatigue... but we still have each other. After months of thought, conversation and listening, there’s a growing sense here at Groupmuse that it’s time to do something we’ve been known to — innovate. We’ve begun exploring ways in which the blockchain — a phenomenon that’s generated so many resources for a narrow group of tech-savvy folk — can be used in the service of ancient art, to create a new mode of artist support in a world that needs timeless music more than ever.

We do not know all that this process will yield, but thus far our conversations have revolved around:

  1. A Musecoin, a digital currency for artists, to be earned through playing music for people.

  2. A decentralized autonomous organization (a DAO) to underpin the musicians cooperative, already months in the making.

  3. Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), so that artists can truly own their work.

Blockchain is a powerful technology -- with the potential for massive impact, which isn’t an inherently a good thing -- that will come down to how the technology is used and for whom. So, as ever, we’re intent on listening and proceeding with care, thought, and heart.

We’re starting with a series of seminar conversations where we bring in experts from the world of blockchain to talk to our community, so that we can be more literate and effective in discerning the path ahead together.

More than anything, we’re committed to using all available technologies to build resilience and lasting value in our musician community and to make our world a better place for historical music and the living, breathing community that grows in its glow.

P.S. If you can’t attend but want to support all of our efforts to serve musicians through these times, please consider donating to the Groupmuse Foundation!


Jake Vartanian

Currently based in Denver, CO, Jake has spent the last few years garnering insights on global economies and emergent communities. A self-taught stock trader in his youth, Jake entered the cryptocurrency arena in early 2011 at age 17, inspired by community currency visionary Robert Swann, the works of counterculturist Hakim Bey and connecting his yoga practice - specifically the cultivation and distribution of attention - to understanding the nature of value.

As he observed networks creating value over time through on individual and collective participation and emotional connection, Jake worked as a community evangelist for the Synereo project, which monetizes original content posted on the web. He then led the marketing efforts for the SingularDTV Token Launch, which provides artists applications to manage projects from development to distribution.

In 2016, Jake founded Cryptodex, the first ever token launch consulting firm. He was involved in a series of successful cryptocurrency launches and projects including Tokencard and Primalbase. He also supported Bancor, which enables instant liquidity and convertibility for tokens of any size market cap.

He currently advises Constellation Labs, Dispatch, Swytch and Electron.

With the success of Bancor and its framework opening the doors to new possibilities of marketing making, Jake began to envision Native, which enables emergent communities to express their ethos, make collective decisions and utilize their own currencies.


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Doc Pop, about 1 month ago

If y'all are doing this, I hope you at least avoid ethereum. I hear there are several other chains that don't have as high a carbon footprint. I'd hate to associate Groupmuse with contributing to our current climate crisis.

Christos Vayenas, about 1 month ago

Indeed! We too share this concern, and would never build out an infrastructure of any kind on the energy heavy (and outdated) proof-of-work protocol, but rather will be looking to the fundamentally more efficient proof-of-stake protocol that is becoming the industry standard—ethereum (2.0) included will be making a full conversation from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake at the end of the year (for more information on this topic, see: We welcome everyone to bring other thoughts, insights and concerns to the forum on Thursday!

Ed Baskerville, about 1 month ago

I should mention upfront that I was critical of Groupmuse's business model early on, and I was unfairly harsh in publicly expressing that criticism. Since then, I haven't been very active, but I do think Groupmuse has generally acted as a positive force within the classical music community.

I might not be able to make the Zoom, so I'll leave my two cents here (2 X 10^-7 BTC, if you like, as of this moment). Short version: messing around with so-called "blockchain technology" would be a huge mistake and a huge distraction.

Practically speaking, whenever you hear an argument for a cryptocurrency-based solution, you need to ask two questions: (1) does this actually solve the problem we're trying to solve? and (2) if so, is it better than a solution that does not involve a cryptocurrency blockchain?

In all cases I've seen aside from criminal enterprises, the answer to (1) is no. And even if the answer to (1) were yes, the answer to (2) would be no.

The reason is that a blockchain is just an insanely inefficient database. It's insanely inefficient because it's engineered to solve an ideologically invented problem that doesn't need to be solved unless you want to replace complex human networks of trust with computer programs susceptible to oligarchic control.

I'm not saying cryptocurrencies won't gain real traction. I'm *scared* that they will gain real traction. And even if the hype bubble bursts, in the short run Groupmuse could benefit from some hype-fueled attention, and some of you might even get rich! But that doesn't make it a good idea.

Sam Bodkin, about 1 month ago

First off, thank you Ed, for acknowledging your unfairly harsh and public criticism ;)

This is an emergent field and there’s so much to learn — that’s why we’re putting together these community education seminars. Please bring your questions and concerns to these conversations, we need your voice.

Bottom line is this: In a time when musicians are leaving the industry and art form in droves, and the major institutions aren’t capable of providing the support necessary to keep the classical music ecosystem healthy, we’d be remiss in our responsibility to this tradition, this community and this vision if we didn’t fully explore any potential path that enabled musicians to be remunerated abundantly for the work they do to make our world beautiful and livable.

As an organization that has for almost a decade thrived at the intersection of culture, community, and technology, we’d be majorly asleep at the switch if we weren’t asking these questions, having these conversations, and engaging in a serious inquiry about the economic future of this art form. Blockchain might very well not be the solution here, but if there’s a chance it could be, you can bet that Groupmuse will be there for it. The only way to know is to learn and listen.

Thank you for your care and concern; from here on, let’s reserve questions and concerns for Thursday’s session — for better or for worse, this comment section isn’t really built for discourse.

All best,
Sam from Groupmuse


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