Is Elixir the Future of Music?

A pair of headphones laying on a keyboard with a computer screen in the background.
Cynthia  Gandarilla

Content Marketing Strategist

Cynthia Gandarilla

Music fans streamed billions of hours of content in 2021 on just one platform, a single livestreamed concert drew more than 1 million viewers, and NFTs are gaining ground as a way for fans to connect with their favorite artists.

The music industry is changing, and consumers increasingly expect digital platforms to play a role in how they interact with not only artists and their music, but digital companies at every point in the music industry. For modern-day music companies to flourish—and compete—they need digital platforms capable of handling huge amounts of traffic at any time without missing a beat.

Add to that the need to plan for a future where 5G speeds aren’t a luxury, they’re expected, and where consumers have plenty of alternatives if one platform falters, and there’s a compelling case for music companies to turn to the Elixir programming language to build their custom platforms.

Elixir’s inherent concurrency, stability, and scalability benefits make it the ideal language to address the needs of today’s—and tomorrow’s—music companies, whether they’re streaming content, connecting fans to their favorite artists and each other, or advancing the industry with NFTs.

Handling the Thundering Herd

Digital concerts like those held in Fortnite show the possibility for large-scale musical events in digital spaces, and in 2021 Kpop group BTS broke their own 2020 record for the most-attended livestreamed concert.

And companies at the cutting edge of the music industry are already preparing for the next era of concerts with the right tech. Take, for example, livestreaming platform Veeps.

In 2020 Veeps had a problem: Music fans starved for live performances flocked to their platform to fill the void left by concerts canceled as a result of COVID-19. But Veeps’ existing Ruby on Rails app couldn’t keep up.

Originally, the company planned to simply update its app to handle the new traffic. After a thorough review, however, they realized the sustainable, scalable solution to their problem was a full Elixir rewrite.

The final result is an app that can handle the hypothetical “thundering herd” problem: If an artist posts about an event to their 1 million fans, and even just 1% of them rush to buy tickets, the platform will be able to accommodate them without missing a beat.

The rewrite was a success and allowed Veeps to expand real-time interactions and support 10 to 100 times the usage volume of their previous app. And by using an Elixir-based platform, Veeps’ app is future-proofed to keep up not only with fans’ demand for concerts, but Veeps’ own scaling potential.

More and more, music fans want their content instantaneously and without a single hiccup to ruin their experience. But without the technical capabilities to handle huge influxes of users while remaining stable, music companies will fail to meet the demands of their audiences.

Elixir Supporting Artists

When Spotify needed to launch an artist-side ad platform, it eventually turned to Elixir for its quick runup time and stability.

Spotify already had an ad platform for small- to medium-sized businesses running on the Java virtual machine (JVM). Since it was required to handle only small amounts of traffic, Spotify engineers like Joel Kemp were able to rely on quick fixes to problems that came up. And even then, Kemp admitted, those fast solutions usually came back to bite the engineering team.

Then, as the company was just weeks away from launching a larger ad platform to allow artists to promote their own work, Kemp realized the platform lacked a debugging portal. The portal would need to handle high rates of traffic but, as a largely backend product, didn’t necessarily need the bells and whistles of a frontend element.

After considering a range of technical solutions—including mixing and matching multiple languages for a single solution—Kemp suggested turning to LiveView as a one-stop option to meet Spotify’s needs. And even on a team without any experienced Elixir developers, Kemp managed to build the feature and get it into production within two days.

The end result: A feature still in use—and expanding—more than a year later that meets not only the needs of engineers but nontechnical stakeholders as well.

NFTs Take Center Stage

Consumers are also looking for the latest digital products, like NFTs, from the music industry, with the same expectations of a stable, reliable experience. What’s more, artists are using NFTs in particular as a way to connect with fans and democratize their revenue sources.

NFT tickets are already available to many concerts, and are growing in popularity and, in 2021, Kings of Leon became the first band to release an album as an NFT. Others in the industry are taking music NFTs a step further, though.

One startup is using Elixir to support its platform that allows musicians to sell royalties for their work. Artists choose a percentage of a song to sell, then fans can buy streaming royalties from artists as tokens. As royalties accrue, the fans who’ve bought a share of ownership earn money alongside their favorite artists.

The platform also gives fans the chance to place their portion of a song up for sale as an NFT. Once a new buyer purchases the token, they’ll continue to receive the royalties from the since.

For a startup team aiming to disrupt even a portion of a multi-billion-dollar industry, the ability to move fast and scale faster without missing a beat is paramount. So Elixir’s inherent stability and scalability are ideal to not only handle any influx of buyers, but give them room to grow well into the future.

As the future of music shifts increasingly toward digital products and interactions, the next wave of startups and scaling companies will need to grapple with the demands and expectations of music consumers.

That means fielding a product that can work quickly and reliably from day one while also offering room to scale. In many cases, Elixir can be the perfect tool to set the stage for long-term success.


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