One London technical startup, JAAK, hopes to solve these problems using technology that is more often associated with finance than entertainment – Blockchain.
But blockchain is not just cryptocurrency, like bitcoin. While cryptocurrencies require blockchain to track and record transactions, the underlying technology can be used to solve a number of problems.
Blockchains work as a huge book of digital books that can record and store information about a global, decentralized and (usually) public network. This means that anyone can add information if it meets the rules and protocols that govern the network. It also means that the information is protected when it was divided into Blockchain and can not be changed or altered by fraud.
This technology can be used in various situations, in addition to cryptocurrency. In 2016, the US stock exchange Nasdaq tested the system using blockchain, so that investors could reliably vote at shareholders’ meetings. In the health sector, there are companies using blockchains to track the patient’s medical history or to centralize and share the results of clinical trials.
Now JAAK is developing a way to create a global view of ownership of intellectual property in the music industry.
“The transfer of property rights has historically been quite complex, as it has changed over time, and has never had a concrete way of expressing it in any physical framework. Many efforts aimed at this have been dispersed and have never received much traction”, says Vaun McKenzie-Landell, JAAK’s executive director.
The music industry, in particular, has problems, because each song consists of several different copyrights.
There is copyright on copyrights, which is a record as a whole – a label can own it, but can transfer these rights to a subsidiary in another territory, and rights can be sold or repackaged over time.
But there is also copyright to the composition. If different musicians collaborate on a track or a song is the cover of a record, then the rights are eventually divided in several ways, especially if the artists are represented by a local or regional rights organization that also obtains some rights,
“Every time you want to use a song (and think of Spotify, which contains 40m songs), each of you requires that you know exactly who are the authors, publishers, and executing organizations at any time, and also knowing what composition is used for recording”, adds McKenzie-Landell, who co-founded the company in 2015.
The growing popularity of streaming, meaning more music, is auditioned in more places around the world, exponentially increasing the number of transactions and causing pain for companies and labels to guarantee payment of royalties in the right amount and the right people.
The JAAK solution for this problem is KORD, a common data network running on top of blockchain, which will allow users to add their rights data to the database, while network rules can detect conflicting information. And the industry takes note – McKenzie-Landelll was chosen this year as one of Forbes’s “30 Under 30”, which recognises creative disruptors across the economy.
“We are trying to solve the problem of having a type of software infrastructure where you can get a global view of ownership.
What it allows is something relatively rudimentary, which is licensed globally in a highly scalable manner.”
Last week, May 2, JAAK announced the successful KORD pilot, which was attended by leading industry leaders from all parts of the music network, including BMG, Global Music Rights, Phoenix Music International, Outdustry and Warner Music Group, who contributed their copyright information rights.
“From studios to streaming sites, a clearer picture of recordings and copyrights can give unused advantages to artists and writers, and JAAK promotes an exciting frontier”, says Sebastian Hentzschel, chief technical officer of the BMG music publisher.
In addition to testing the Blockchain technology to track ownership, it is hoped that KORD will create new opportunities for the commercialization and licensing of music.
“The next stage: can technology really do this without our participation? At the moment we are doing a lot of hands. We take data, we insert them, we do much of what the protocol and applications should do. This is really the next step. And then, seeing that the fact that the technology really stands on its two legs, allow wider participation”, – adds the chief executive of JAAK.
“A clearer picture of records and copyrights can give unused advantages to artists.
What we are trying to do is gradually buy, using what really solves real commercial problems for each of these interested parties.”
In order for KORD to be completely successful, this will require sectoral cooperation from stakeholders around the world.
Future applications of this structure are widely distributed and can be used to manage copyright on television, cinema and even publishing.
Perhaps much further down the line, so that people could add their composition and their copyrights in the network, and then automatically pay via blockchain someone who would like to try it.
According to McKenzie-Landelll, where a public blockchain meets enterprising enterprises, the result can be very strong. The supergroup, formed from this technology and the music industry, sounds like an important note of success.