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Future of the Music Industry: Blockchain

“The music industry is booming … but its outdated and costly music rights system needs to change.”

Now, I’ve spoken about Blockchains a little bit a few posts back on here.

But, to really emphasise the importance I thought I would dedicate a post about it, too.

Briefly mentioned in Building Your Repertoire: Industry Advice from the Pros a wee while back, where I was first introduced to blockchains by data industry whiz Richard Skidmore, it can seem overwhelming at first. But if you trim down the fat, Blockchains’ use is fairly simple but effective. With the help of industry professionals and pwc (PricewaterhouseCoopers), we discover why they are so important and why we ultimately use them.

The Current System

You’ve heard all the stories. The music industry has a tough reputation. Like snakes in the grass, there are stories abound of musicians who have not received their fair share of royalties, been deliberately underpaid or not received anything at all until years since initial release.

Working deep within collecting royalties on behalf of artists at PPLPRS Ltd – a performing rights collection – for me myself, it seems that the system of collection is often regarded as confusing, outdated and more often than not, incomplete. We do not even know ourselves how it fully works.

Tracking, tracking and more tracking. It seems more time is wasted in evaluating administration through a broken system, rather than celebrating the elaborated work of talented musicians. But with Blockchain, comes change, it seems. Good change.

What is Blockchain?

https://www.pwc.co.uk/entertainment-media/publications/blockchain-recording-music-industry.pdf

With Blockchain, it’s all about the links. With its use of a ‘distributed ledger,’ < in layman’s terms > data is shared across an expansive network – between artist, publisher, service provider and finally the artist – and everyone in that network has their own identical copy of it. This way, if someone within the network makes changes within the blockchain, everyone can see the changes made because they’re all plugged in to the same network.

With this immediate interlink with everyone involved in the music process from artist to listener, blockchain has the potential to save the music industry billions by revolutionising the rights and royalties process, ensuring artists, writers, publishers and everyone in the music industry value chain is paid appropriately and fairly. With fairness applied, it not only allows efficiency but avoids a hell of a lot of legal battles over who owns what, too.

For instance in Europe alone, 28 collection societies collect royalties for public performance rights and mechanical recordings in 28 different markets. With this lack of transparency, is it any wonder that it has led to slower and inaccurate royalty payments over the years?

As a result, this continues to promote further disconnection between the owners of music content, the artists themselves, and the end consumer.

As Richard stated, the music industry wishes for that 1 on 1 relationship that Netflix has with its users. It seems the majority of professionals in the music industry believe that it is blockchain to accomplish this type of relationship.

Embracing blockchain across the music industry would simplify the management of rights and royalties with a single version of the truth, regardless of territory and rights ownership specifics – ensuring everyone is paid the right amount in a more timely fashion. 

pwc: Blockchain: Recording the music industry; 2015-2020

Establishing Trust

With so much transparency within encrypted details between organisations, Blockchain has the potential to break down the barriers of trust within distinguished organisations. It seems that the myriad between consumer and artist that was once so disparate from one another, can start to come closer to each other, ensuring artists have more protection and control of their own rights from their own work.

As transparent networks become more of a thing with transactions known by everyone within the same network, trust must be assured within the blockchain for it to properly work. Of course, that may be harder to achieve than anything else. With any change, comes resistance. Trust is hard to gain, and just as easy to lose, especially in such a tough, dog-eat-dog trading world like the music industry. So, only time will tell if it really pays off.

If major labels got on board, that would be 80% of the music market covered already. With rights management organisations leading the forefront in establishing this within their own systems, such as PRS For Music, it seems like it really will be the future for the music industry.

For more information on Blockchain you read the official pwc pdf below: https://www.pwc.co.uk/entertainment-media/publications/blockchain-recording-music-industry.pdf

For more information on the importance of data in the music industry, be sure to check this one out: Is the Music Industry Addicted to Data? https://manvmusic.wordpress.com/2020/05/15/is-the-music-industry-addicted-to-data/

Of course, head back to the origins of this post: Building Your Repertoire: Industry Advice from the Pros: https://manvmusic.wordpress.com/2020/06/05/building-your-repertoire-industry-advice-from-the-pros/

As ever, if you wish, head back to where all this started: Nothing But Fiction: The Industry That Must Not Be Named: https://manvmusic.wordpress.com/2019/10/15/nothing-but-fiction-the-industry-that-must-not-be-named/

By manvmusic

In one of the most controversial, ever-changing and unpredictable industries, join my rants and ravings as I dissect the music industry word by word through technology, current events, industry stories and problems.

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