Cryptocurrency, dotcom-style bubble waiting to pop, or revolutionary financial system? Bitcoin goes by many names, but the least likely of which we’ve seen so far has to be this: Music Festival. Self-described as “a celebration of humanity and music,” the event takes aim at bringing the mysterious currency out into the spotlight at the NYC Bitcoin Center.
“This event is about freedom,” organizer Ross Mintzer says in a statement. “In music we have freedom of expression. Bitcoin gives us that same freedom in finance, but I believe that’s only the beginning. I want people to have an amazing time at the festival and hope to create a platform for digital currency enthusiasts to bond.”
But how does it all work? On the surface, Bitcoin is what’s known as a peer-to-peer payment system, i.e. I pay you a set amount for a good, service or an exchange of other currency directly and anonymously, without using a bank to facilitate the transaction. To do this, users pay a small fee to use digital “wallets” in order to buy, send and receive the bitcoins. Then, each transaction is posted publicly under the user’s Wallet ID number.
Diving deeper into the system is where things get more complex. A typical currency like the U.S. dollar has a physical form — aka that fat stack you can hold in your hand after payday. (Sweet.) Bitcoin, on the other hand, is all virtual. So how does it have value? Well, that goes back to the beginning.
A developer under the alias of Satoshi Nakamoto invented the cryptocurrency using open source software in 2009. New bitcoins are produced through what’s called “mining.” Think of it as a digital Wild West, only with a ton of CPUs. Miners, or people who are incredibly good with computers, compete to solve complex math problems. Every 10 minutes, one miner is awarded 25 bitcoins. With the exchange rate at press time of $464.50 to 1 bitcoin, that’s approximately $11,612.50. Not too shabby. The total number of bitcoins in existence will eventually be capped at 21 million, when “mining” will stop.
Unlink other currency systems, Bitcoin isn’t regulated by a central bank, which along with its anonymity, has made it a go-to for folks browsing darknet sites for illegal goods and services. But despite this connection to the seedy underbelly of the interwebs (like the recently shut down Silk Road marketplace) advocates insist that Bitcoin has a future across global marketplaces on the up-and-up.
Enter the NYC Bitcoin Center. Right down the street from the New York Stock Exchange, eager New Yorkers began trading this past New Year’s Eve amidst an excited crowd at 40 Broad Street. The space serves not only as a place for people to buy and trade the virtual currency in person, but also as a classroom for anyone looking to learn the basics of bitcoin.
Fast-forward to today, and the center is amping up for the inaugural Bitcoin Music Festival. Bands take the stage Saturday, May 3 at 7:30 p.m. with performances from local bands It’s Prints, Jai Wolf, Yellow@The Light and The Ross Mintzer Band (yep, the same guy organizing the event.)
They’ll also roll out a live body and face painter along with Bitcoin merch. According to the event’s Facebook page , “In addition there will be showcasing of much art, Such Beauty, and a lot of Wow to the decorations planned to have around the event so be sure to have your hashtagging skills put to use.”
And with a list of sponsors like Monster Energy Drink, ZenithCoin and the Museum of Sex, it’s bound to be an interesting night. Curiosity piqued? Snag your ticket here. Admission is $10 USD or BTC equivalent, and $15 USD or BTC equivalent at the door.