Australian startup Paperchain has been talking about its plans to attack the challenge of uncovering $2.5bn of “royalty black boxes” on behalf of publishers and songwriters.

The company, which is moving to London this month, says it has developed a product that will help rightsholders identify and claim missing royalties from streaming services and collecting societies alike.

The ‘black boxes’ element refers to royalties that have not been paid out, because the service or society has not identified the correct rightsholders.

Paperchain has been running closed beta tests with labels, publishers and other middlemen over the last year, and is hoping to work with the UK’s PROs and industry bodies in the months ahead.

“Our focus is not to replace the current digital supply chain, but to make the flow of rights data work better,” said CTO Rahul Rumalla in a statement.

“With the industry’s digital transformation and adoption of streaming, there’s been growing pains around collecting and processing the sheer amount of sales and royalty data being generated,” added CEO Daniel Dewar.

The company’s plans have evolved from October 2016, when Music Ally first happened across Paperchain’s profile on investment site Angellist.

Then, it was exploring the idea of standardised metadata collection, storage and reporting for the music industry using blockchain tech.

“By creating a standard data format, Paperchain becomes a single source of truth for song metadata and rights reporting,” it claimed at the time.

“When a user plays a track, Paperchain runs the platform metadata against the database for validation. The song will only play if the metadata lookup returns a match. Transaction logs are made available to collection societies for royalty reporting.”

Earlier this month, Paperchain launched a survey to gauge the scale of the music industry’s problem with unattributed royalties and unidentified rights owners, as part of its new focus.

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