On March 3, 2017, an international workshop on “The Blockchained Music Business” was organized by the Department of Cultural Management and Gender Studies (IKM) of the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna and the Music Information Center Austria (MICA). Carlotta De Ninni (Mycelia for Music Foundation, London), Peter Jenner (Sincere Management, London) and Benji Rogers (PledgeMusic & Dot Blockchain Music, New York) were the workshop supervisors focusing on different aspects of the blockchain technology’s impact on the music business. The third part of the workshop’s summarizes the results of the workshop group discussing the question, if the blockchain is a useful tool for setting up a global music rights database. The workshop group was supervised by Peter Jenner (Sincere Management, London) and you find the summary here:
The blockchain as a tool for a global music rights database?
Summary based on the notes by Michael Fink
The workshop supervisor, Peter Jenner (Sincere Management, London) is optimistic that blockchain technology could deliver an accurate database that might be good for the payment of every participant of a song. The group, therefore; discussed the importance of numbers and codes in combination with song titles and artists. There are a lot of songs that have the same name so there has to be a system that provides accuracy and avoids confusion. Although numeric structures like the ISRC code ISWC code already exist, confusions still happen because of misspellings etc.
A rather difficult question for the group was how deal with mash-ups, cover versions and samplings in a blockchain database system. Will the original authors receive the payment and get credit for their work? The database might work for new songs where everyone knows who are the session musicians, but with older material there might be difficulties with the credits.
Cutting out the middle-men in the music business by blockchain technology was another topic discussed in the group. Will artists go for a blockchain instead to a Performing Rights Society (PRO)? The group came to the conclusion that the blockchain can be a solution for right data and real-time payment, but there will be still a need for the services of PROs. While blockchaining can be a solution for right data and real-time payment there is still a need for areas that are covered by PROs. Maybe blockchaining could be a good tool for PROs and the combination of both will help the artists even more.
The information given in the blockchain databases might help artists to make more money with YouTube. People often don’t license songs for the videos they put online. A blockchain database might be a solution for that if there would be a simple way to get in touch/or pay a certain amount of money to the rights-holders. By now it can be very difficult to find out who the rights-holders of a song are.
However, also questions arise: What happens when the minimal viable data (MVD) is wrong – will the artist still get paid somehow? Is the system really impossible to hack? Is transparency good for everyone – is it good for every artist?
Alexander Kukelka (Austrian Composers’ Society)
Alexander Schindler (Austrian Institute of Technology)
Andreas Mahringer (Record Bird)
Roman Oslansky (AKM, Austrian Collecting Society)
Felix Schmalek (Austrian Green Party)