We all know that getting paid at all for your music is a challenge, and even then, getting the full amount due and receiving it sometime during the following year seems to be accepted because that’s just how it is. But being ‘how it is’ doesn’t make it right. Times, as the saying goes, are a changing, and blockchain in music is coming…
Hopefully, sometime soon, blockchain in music will become a working tool and change forever, the way we are remunerated for our music. Blockchain should make it fast, transparent, 100% paid and 100% correct. We know of a few valid commercial ventures working at Blockchain technology for music, and The Music Site has been developed with the ability to support blockchain in music, of course we have, The Music Site is the perfect vehicle to deliver blockchain to the masses.
The music industry uses existing business models built upon patterns and practices dating back to the early 20th century, decades before the invention of digital and online services, where now online databases and a smooth flow of information are the norm. Music has been forced to adopt technology in various forms along the way, technologies that invariably don’t fit with what came before.
Digital rights expression is one of the biggest problems the music industry is trying to tackle presently. It’s extremely difficult to clearly define which performers, songwriters, producers, publishers, and labels own the rights to songs and recordings and how royalties should be split between them. Songwriters, producers and musicians are the first to put in any of the work, and the last to ever see any profit, but they have little to no information about how their royalty payments are calculated and don’t get access to valuable aggregate data about how and where people are listening to their music. The artist’s financial well-being is totally controlled by a huge number of middle men whose job is to figure out, from all the existing systems that are outdated and don’t match up, what these songs are, who they should pay, take a piece of the pie for their trouble, and pass on the leftovers from a foggy picture at best to whomever they think is entitled to the money.
On average, about 12.7 percent of royalties that go through performing rights societies are used for operating costs – money which be available instead to artists and record companies. Worse still, difficulties in identifying, allocating and managing royalties means all too often, moneys that should be reaching the pocket of struggling artists are in fact, held back (not indefinitely) awaiting the event of relevant information, in the absence of which it is lost to the rightful claimant forever.
The lack of control and poor data is preventing the growth of a legitimate digital marketplace where artists are paid fairly and fans can find the music they want. What is needed is transparency and fairness, and a means by which accelerate payment to artists and lower transaction cost, but also provide transparency in the payment process.
So what is Blockchain in music?
In short (very short) blockchain is the ability to attach extended digital content to every song along with lyrics, liners, composition notes, artwork, licensing data and so much more, in short, any related data that someone feels is important enough to attach to a song. Importantly too, this data is fixed, and changes can only be made under strict circumstances by the authorised party or parties – Yes you…the rightsholder(s)
OK, yippee-do I hear you say, but how does this help me?
This data, solidly attached to any song, dictates ‘who owns what’. It may in simple terms be a single person who is owed 100% of a songs’ earnings. In reality, it’s likely to be a few vaguely connected parties, even a whole bunch of people each with different shares/rights for varying parts of the creation, maybe the music itself or a contribution to it, the lyrics or part of, maybe a producer, or even a session player on a specific track… it’s all do-able. It’s all visible and it’s all transparent.
Importantly too, once the full and proper ownership has been confirmed and set in the ‘creative passport’ of a song, every penny of that money can be allocated to (and only to) the rightful parties.
This effectively removes the need for certain intermediaries thereby removing delays in the payment chain and importantly it removes all thee ‘hands in your pocket’ from helping themselves to your money.
‘Imagine you went to your ATM and tried to take out $60 dollars. The machine makes you wait for a half hour then spits out 40 dollars and no receipt. You don’t know where the extra money went, why it took so long or what’s left in your account. For most people, this would be unacceptable. If you’re an artist in today’s music industry, it might be your everyday reality’.
And that is a great description of (one of) the current failures of the music industry.
Whilst I’ll admit blockchain is not a panacea to all the problems plaguing the industry, it promises a way out of the current deadlock and offers a foundation that can bring together the entire community and give everyone, from amateur singers to platinum record selling superstars, the chance to offer their talent to the world and be compensated for it. This is our mission, and The Music Site is the perfect vehicle to deliver this technology to the masses and help make blockchain the much needed gamechanger we believe it can be. OK so not everyone in the industry is gonna love it, those with vested interests in keeping things as they are. But it’s coming and they’re going to have to accept this fact and bend to work with it as sure as hell, artists will adopt this. We’re on the case and delivering blockchain is very much a part of our mission.
The Music Site is a new social/music platform built over the last two years with a primary mission to support and foster new music and to ‘champion the cause’ for artists. We aim to create a community of music lovers and music makers who together, in time, maybe – just maybe, will have a big enough voice to be heard.
We’ve built a platform just for music, somewhere all the primary music resources and common activities are consolidated into and connected within a single, socially compelling music-centric environment.
Somewhere every artist and creative talent can access and manage their resources, assets and music related needs, knowing that all revenues earned are split perfectly and transparently with zero percent going elsewhere and 100 percent going to artists / rights holders.
Somewhere every fan can access any aspect of their music life in a single inter-connected, socially compelling environment negating the need to access multiple websites.
And somewhere the industry can access all this same broad resource, data and content easily and efficiently. There’s no verified global registry of music creatives and their works, the industry attempted to solve some of these problems before with projects such as the Global Repertoire Database (GRD) but this never came to be.
We believe the idea of a global decentralised repository is sound, in fact essential, to the wellbeing of our industry, but a different means of data acquisition is needed. The music space has become painfully overcrowded with literally hundreds of predominantly single solution providers competing for the same customers with the same niche solutions. As a result, our digital environment has become more and more fragmented and overcrowded bordering on chaos.
The Music Site core platform is already built and currently ingesting data and completing blockchain technology as a core solution.
We can, with your help and support, a decentralized database of music metadata updated organically by you the users, incentivised not least by the inherent value and benefit we’re building in for every user, whether you like, buy, create, perform or work in music.
Guest post written by Keith Carter, CEO / Co-Founder, The Music Site.