Blockchain for Music in Two Beats
Updated: Nov 18, 2019
So we have seen that the use of blockchain extends much further than cryptos. It is revolutionizing the entertainment industry with its vast potential to change the way business is done in TV, Film and Music. One by one, entertainment and media companies are getting on board with blockchain testing, often hiring specialized startups to run their IT departments.
Which brings us to one of the deepest and most complex issues in creative industries: rights and ownership. The waters have always been muddy in this department, causing countless performers the loss in millions of dollars in income. Currently, there is about $2 Billion worth of uncollected royalties for musicians globally. Industry people will recognize the term “royalty black box” which is where all of these uncollected royalties are sitting in limbo. Over 50 million cases of unidentified songwriters or 'unknown copyright owner notice of intents' (NOIs) have been filed with the US Copyright Office by streaming services over the last three years alone. Much of this can be blamed on inaccurate metadata, or human error.
With blockchain, these chain-of-title issues (who owns what, how much someone is owed) can easily and quickly be viewed in real-time because of the open ledger, with each transaction being logged and verified within each project’s intellectual property rights account. Why is this so important? This allows for transparency and immutable records (can't be changed or reversed) so that digital rights management companies can access the full transaction "block" to find the exact timestamp from when the project rights were first transferred and to see exactly which performer made contributions. Some neat stuff happening here.
Another benefit of blockchain would affect performer contracts, rendering them essentially redundant because of the rise in smart contracts. Smart contract programs remove all the blurred lines from royalties, residuals, payments for services, film and music licensing as well as drastically reducing the amount of time it takes for a performer to get paid. Time and again you hear about performers not being compensated for their work, due to a lengthy bureaucratic process amongst all the middle-men.
Why should artists not get everything they are entitled to and why should the industry not get cleaned up and be made transparent? Such is the beauty of blockchain's open ledger, revolutionizing the industry in ways never seen before.