Revelator and Colu have an ambitious plan to use blockchain for registering music rights
Music has the power to inspire and bring people together. Artists pour their hearts and souls into creating meaningful works, hoping that listeners from around the world will be touched by their sound. Unfortunately, these artists and others who hold the rights to this content are vulnerable to exploitation concerning their global rights management and monetization.
Due to the global nature of the music world, verifying who first created a song, who holds the rights to it, and making sure that all the right parties are properly credited and paid for their work is becoming increasingly difficult for even the biggest labels to manage. In the current system, there are multiple registries for artists, but they are disconnected and far from optimized to meet the needs of the artists who are often lacking important data regarding the usage of their work.
Recognizing the need for a more holistic and secure method for stakeholders in the music industry to register and track the use of their compositions, the music platform for distribution, reporting and analytics, Revelator has teamed up with blockchain wizards Colu to develop a solution.
Building a unified registry for musical works
The lack of a single registry has been a hot topic in the music industry for some time now. Some initiatives have been proposed but so far it does not appear that any substantive steps have been taken to bring one into being. The formation of the International Music Registry (IMR) under the auspices of the United Nation’s World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has been one such attempt that was not followed to fruition. Another proposal was for the Global Repertoire Database, which was pushed forward by the European Union in 2009 and is said to have the backing of major industry players like iTunes and Universal.
Currently, there different registries by countries, with each bearing responsibility for their local artists. The problem is that there is poor communication between them. Two issues that can arise from this flawed system are that of verifying who the original creator of a song is, and making sure that the stakeholders are properly compensated for their work.
Having identified these pain points, Revelator has decided that they would attempt to do the impossible. The company’s platform already gives users the tools to upload, market, sell, and track their recordings across different stores and services like iTunes and others. Now the team is looking to take their project a step further and build the publishing platform and provide a global registration service for musical works using the blockchain.
Gaining a clearer picture
At its core, the problem at hand is one of a lack of transparency. When an artist releases their work out into the ether of the industry, they are dependent on others to receive accurate data on how their song is performing. This can include data like the number of times it is publicly performed around the world, played on digital services or sold by different distributors across different territories.
This is essential for determining how much revenue they are owed. In turn, by giving all of the stakeholders access to this important information, each member of the team including the performers, songwriters, producers, managers and others can clearly see how the revenue they should be receiving.
Utilizing blockchain to secure rights
In seeking a system that would allow for widely verifiable proof of ownership that could be checked on a large scale, Revelator turned to Colu for a technical solution. Colu’s focus works primarily with blockchain technology to create secure digital assets like coupons and tickets. While Bitcoin is the most well known of the blockchain projects, the technology has other uses for making verifiable digital products that can hold water.
In speaking with Colu’s Co-Founder and CEO Amos Meiri, he explains that he is confident that blockchain is capable of securing data across wide networks, thereby maintaining the integrity of the digital asset. He expands on the security model, saying that, “The one thing that Bitcoin has proved in the last 6 years of its existence is that it’s security model works. By creating a massive network of computers that hold an identical copy of the ledger, this technology managed to secure digital assets through decentralization and consensus. Every copy of the ledger is exactly the same and every change is made simultaneously on thousands of computer – so you don’t have on single point of failure.”
Interestingly, Revelator intends to use Colu’s blockchain tech not for securing the storage or distribution of music files (sound recordings) themselves, but for enabling the issuance and registration of the musical work (composition) to ensure that the song credits and metadata are highly visible and transparent. Revelator’s Founder and CEO Bruno Guez notes that piracy of the music is always a threat to the stakeholders. However, by having the metadata on the “ledger” spread out across the network through their registry, they are building an easy to access location for people in the music industry to view who owns which rights.
For now, the project is still under development. According to Meiri, their initial Proof of Concept will be ready in about two months. Following the completion of this stage, they intend to move on to the elements of micro-payments, distribution and smart contracts.
While their platform will be open for all levels of users, Guez says that they intend to focus on a top down approach, and are hoping to bring some of the big independent labels and publishers on board. Speaking on the future, he hopes that, “The Revelator/Colu blockchain could become the “operating system” for music. It will provide the transactional engine and “logic” for Digital Assets, Smart Contracts and Transactions (payments), across web apps and mobile devices globally, instantly.”
The initial launch of the platform will likely be free for users to register their songs in the unified database. Down the road, the venture may look to develop new business models from the blockchain.
Does it hit all the notes?
Questions remain on how the Revelator/Colu project will be able to scale up this project to become a truly relevant endeavour. It requires mass participation, that if led by the major labels could help induce change, but at first glance could take some time to implement.
In their cooperation with Colu, Revelator is attempting to remove some of the smoke and mirrors from the industry by making it more transparent for the stakeholders. Working as an artist in the digital age has become extremely difficult, and in many cases far less profitable. Any movement towards a system that makes it easier for stakeholders to track their rights and improve the distribution of revenue is definitely a positive step.
Moreover, as the question of how Bitcoin will factor as a currency in the future remains open to interpretation, Colu has shown here some serious creativity in expanding the use of the global ledger system for other purposes that can have wide reaching utiliztion across multiple sectors. The success of this project could mean that blockchain technology might start popping up in new and unexpected places, maybe even sooner than you might expect.