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Opinion
Tyler Cowen

How Crypto Could Be Like the Music Industry

The future of cryptocurrency could depend on whether people focus on the artist, the label or the venue.

Crypto could be a lot of fun.

Crypto could be a lot of fun.

Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

To envision the future of crypto, I keep trying different analytical tools. This time around the concept of relevance is focality, by which I mean the part of the system at which consumers direct their attention. Focality could determine whether crypto ushers in an era of dystopian inequality, or whether most of its benefits accrue to broader society.

That all sounds quite abstract, so consider a simple example from the world of music. Famous artists such as the Beatles or Taylor Swift attract attention with their very names — in other words, they have become focal. Then there are performance spaces or bars that are known for putting on good music, such as the Blue Note or, in an earlier era, the Fillmore. In this case, the venue is focal.