Analysis

Blockchain technology and music: two contrasting views


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There has been a surge of discussion in recent weeks about whether blockchain technology could be part of the drive for more transparency in the way digital music services’ payouts make their way to artists and songwriters.

A report by Rethink Music pitching a role for blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies ignited the debate, while interviews with musicians Zoe Keating and Imogen Heap have emphasised that some musicians are already getting to grips with the implications.
A blockchain is a public record of all transactions that have ever taken place in a cryptocurrency like bitcoin. A new ‘block’ is added roughly every 10 minutes, listing all the transactions taking place during that time, with any change to the database requiring the support of more than half the currency’s users, for security purposes.

It’s the engine of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, but could it really have an impact on music? Music Ally has been canvassing opinions for our latest (subscribers-only) report, and thought it was worth giving two contributors’ views a wider airing in front of our paywall, to continue the debate.

Stuart Dredge

Read More: Analysis News
One response
  • I’ve heard quite a number of people recently talking similar language. How can you all be building the next GRD? Here’s how…

    GRD1 failed because no CMO/PRO (quite sensibly in commercial terms) wanted to give up their (whose?) databases into a central store (as per EU edict). We’re not quite sure who’s working on GRD2 or what it might be – so let’s skip that, eh? So, we’re using a working title of “GRD3” for a set of ideas that could just bring this altogether.

    But first, a brief history… In the beginning there was the Internet and it grew and grew. And if you go back a bit before that then you’ll find a lot of intelligent people who built the Internet – and before that they dreamt about it. But the Internet was not a platform. It was (and is) a language (actually an open protocol called “TCP/IP”). Musicians know a lot about open protocols: MIDI. Anyway, the Internet (the open protocol) enables many (if not all) devices, applications and platforms to talk to each other – no matter who owns them, what country they are in, how big they are, how much they cost – and share information called “packets”. It’s like a huge distributed database. But you know this. You use it every day.

    Anyway, that’s what GRD3 is all about. GRD3 is an open protocol. Devices, applications and platforms will all talk GRD3 – they’ll all be “rights aware”. Everyone will “understand” rights splits and sync requests. The owners of the rights data get to keep their own data and decide where they store/host it and who can see it. And as a musician/artist you can store it yourself or wherever you want: with Auddly, with your high street CMO/PRO, in the blockchain, or under your mattress (as long as it’s wifi enabled). And this means that no one needs to give up their precious databases – gathered over years of sweat and toil. Everyone has the ability to express and manage their own rights data as they see fit. And then they can give explicit permission to other people to view their rights data.

    And here’s where it get exciting – this isn’t just about music. This is about all media rights. Because over in the film sector they are having the same issue with rights transparency and portability. And over in the image sector too the same. And so GRD3 can cope with mixing up different media and still rationalising who owns what.

    And even more exciting than that is that we can now define rights down to the stem and even sample level. So, in the future I will drag “rights aware” samples into my song mix and because the DAW is rights aware too, it’ll go and find the owners and send off rights clearance requests. Bingo!

    Face it, there will be no one winner (no one centralised GRD) so we all need to muck in and “interoperate”. Having a centralised database (a la GRD1) raises too many questions of trust and abuse of power. So, we need a distributed database by using an open protocol. And we have great teachers on our road to GRD3: the Internet and MIDI. Both of which have been really successful in their chosen field. So, we can’t really go wrong if we all work together.

    I have been working on GRD3-like ideas since the mid 90’s. I was one of the three heads of the fabled Cerberus Digital Jukebox. I’ve been working in Kendra Initiative to actually build parts of the puzzle. We’ve build an open source prototype dashboard app called “Kendra Hub” with help from EU and UK. You can see videos of it in action.

    Kendra Hub Overview June 2015
    Shows how a sync requests could be managed within the dashboard.
    https://youtu.be/D0D38_sfmLg

    Kendra Hub Clips June 2015
    Shows how we can nest rights information at stem and sample levels.
    https://youtu.be/ev8-23shWAU

    Look forward to working with you all.

    Cheers Daniel

    Kendra Initiative • Fostering an Open Distributed Marketplace for Digital Media
    https://www.kendra.io
    https://www.youtube.com/c/kendraio
    https://www.twitter.com/kendraio
    https://www.facebook.com/kendraio
    https://plus.google.com/+kendraio
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/kendraio
    https://www.linkedin.com/company/kendraio
    https://www.github.com/kendraio

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