Benji Rogers on music and blockchain: ‘We’re playing catchup’


Dot Blockchain’s Benji Rogers may be one of the industry’s evangelists for blockchain technology, but he has backed the rightsholders who are carefully vetting startups in that area before working with them – while also calling for more urgency in getting involved.

“The time for action was two years ago. Now, we’re playing catch-up, to a certain extent. But it has given the technologies time to mature and get it right,” Rogers told the Midem Blog in an interview ahead of his appearance at the conference in June.

“And in fairness to the music industry, they have been doing a ton of vetting of blockchain startups, which is the right thing to do. If I ran a label, I would literally have a task force trying to figure out how I’m about to be disrupted. It would be a serious team trying to figure out what the best use of this technology is,” said Rogers. “Whereas I think the position of certain PROs and labels I’ve spoken to is that they’ll just wait and see. I think that would be a mistake.”

Dot Blockchain has agreements in place with SOCAN, MediaNet, Songtrust, FUGA and CD Baby, with Rogers saying two more will be announced at Midem. It’s one of a number of startups trying to forge such partnerships and get trials off the ground: Jaak, Paperchain, Ujo Music and Blokur are other examples, as was Mediachain until it was bought by Spotify earlier this year.

“The Mediachain people are excellent players and thinkers in this space, so Spotify’s hiring of the team has really set them up as a player,” said Rogers. “I applaud it, think it’s fantastic, and look forward to working with them.”

However, he returned to the theme of rightsholders, and potential obstacles to the adoption of blockchain technology. “A bunch of the music industry does not want the transparency that this would engender; and a bunch of the music industry is highly invested in payments not reaching the right people in the right way,” said Rogers. “But that said, what those parties and players are seeing is that if they’re holding a thousand euros under the table, they’re losing out on a million over the table…”

Written by: Stuart Dredge