Waiting For Mycelia OR Why We Love Imogen Heap
I have loved Imogen Heap since Let Go appeared on the Garden State soundtrack back in 2004. Since then, I have followed her career from the standpoint of pure music fandom.
Her career is easy to follow – as an artist, she is newsworthy in a way that I’ll venture most female artists might crave: for her output alone. Heap writes, produces, and mixes her solo albums, releasing them via her own label and website. As a music fan, to me these latter details make for good anecdotes, but only underpin the fact that the woman makes darn good music – a kind of haunting electronica that I constantly play on repeat.
But the anecdotes, in some ways, now garner more press than the music itself (and deservedly so). Heap made history when she was the first woman to win a Grammy for Best Engineered Album in 2010. Long before we here at the 4.5 Blog started writing about the intersection between music and technology, Heap was creating new and innovative ways of using technology to interact with and deliver music to her fans.
And let’s not forget the gloves. Seriously.
Heap is once again making music and technology headlines. Around the time the Rethink Music report touted blockchain technology as a possible transparency saviour of the music industry’s tracking and reporting woes, Heap was already creating headlines over Mycelia. While details about the actual service are vague (Heap told Forbes it was a “system/library/database”), what is known is that Heap will release her new single, Tiny Human, live onto a blockchain, so that where and when it’s played can be instantly tracked. While the Forbes interview is lengthy and insightful, it did not give specifics about when Mycelia might actually launch. (Heap’s website has gone quiet on the subject as well.)
Still, it is one of many murmurings that a transparent, global music rights database that enables individual pieces of music to be tracked is on the horizon, with blockchain leading the way as the best chance for success. Past attempts to build such a database have failed – and even if they succeeded, were geared more towards usage by rights management companies only.
As blockchain continues to generate conversations, Heap stands to be at the forefront of an artist-driven solution to a pervasive and persistent problem. While other services created by musicians have suffered somewhat (ahem, Tidal), I hope that Heap is able to create something beautiful, sustaining and ground-breaking. The late July buzz over Mycelia has dwindled, and the more recent Guardian article suggested that Heap had since been inundated with tech companies wanting to develop her platform. While we at the 4.5 Blog read this as a positive sign, it also signaled that this project has emerged out of its infancy, but perhaps gone no further. So, we wait, and in the meantime, there is no shortage of outlets for conversation about the transformative possibilities of blockchain technology.
Tiny Human will be released on October 2 at a Guardian Live event in London. We hope to be there, and watch history unfold.
“Imogen Heap – Ellipse” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia