Steve Albini, American singer-songwriter, record producer and audio engineer, perhaps best known for his work on Nirvana’s In Utero and in his band Shellac, has destroyed the concept of “smart contracts,” a potential application of the Bitcoin block chain much championed by the Bitcoin community.
While Bitcoiners regularly celebrate Bitcoin’s creation of an alternative to the financial world, Albini genuinely throws this notion into question.
“What most of the underground culture has been based on is not finding an alternative version of something in the mainstream culture, like in [the Bitcoin] example, finance, but making those things we find repellent about the mainstream culture irrelevant,” Albini told Tony Sakich of Decentralize.fm.
“It’s not let’s have our own lawyers and contracts and our own automated version of bill collecting; let’s not have lawyers, let’s not have contracts, let’s not have bill collecting, and not let’s have our own version of exclusive relationships that we police, but let’s not have exclusive relationships and not have any police,” the famed musician, engineer and producer said.
Albini drove his point further home.
“Bitcoin is creating equivalents to items that exist in the material world but in the digital ether, and my point, and probably the fulcrum of my existence, has been to eliminate those things from my life, not create an alternative version I could cherish as my own invention.”
Albini, moreover, sees no use for smart contracts in his daily life, since he doesn’t use traditional contracts as is.
“I don’t use contracts in business, I literally do not use them. I’ve had a successful and extended career based on the idea that I’m only dealing with people I can trust and who can trust me. I’ve never signed a piece of paper; never even had a verbal understanding of the details of our relationship…”
Albini isn’t scared of being short-changed.
“In the terrified straight world people say, ‘Well aren’t you afraid of someone taking advantage of you?’ Like someone books a bunch of studio time and then cancels it…Well that happens very rarely and it happens very rarely because we do a good job at vetting the people that we’re working with. We spend a little bit of energy making sure the people we’re dealing with are trustworthy, and building a personal relationship with them, then we don’t have to spend an extraordinary amount of time structuring agreements, and contracts and collecting on payments that people are reluctant to make.”
“I’ve made contracts irrelevant and unnecessary in my life.”
Despite his thoughts on contracts and his skepticism in regards to Bitcoin, Albini recognizes Bitcoin as an achievement.
“I appreciate bitcoin as a technological innovation,” the DIY adherent says.
Albini has worked on several thousand records. On Nirvana’s In Utero, one hears classic Albini production, which encompasses “live in the studio” recording, meaning musicians perform together as a group in the same recording space.