Getting Paid For Just Making Music - Can Blockchain Make This Dream Come True?

By BenjaminV | derkryptograf | 25 Aug 2020

My brother plays bass guitar in a band. He and his mates are called "Rollsportgruppe". Their music style is punk rock. But everytime somebody would click on one of their YouTube videos and listen to their music "Rollsportgruppe" would not get payed. It is very hard for musicians to make their passion to a profession they can earn a decent income from.

The music industry is dominated by big labels and commercial music producers. They have their hands on the copyrights and payments for the use of music via streams, videos, downloads or just royalties for playing certain songs. Musicians who most of the time do the hard work writing and recording new songs often get a very small share of copyright roylties or nothing at all. It is mostly because of the power of a few central labels that musicians have a hard time to profit from their work. 

Decentralized Music Rights Management - the Bloomen project

Blockchain technology can change that. It helps to open up new ways of media production and distribution. Furthermore, blockchain technology may open up new opportunities to protect intellectual property and make it possible that artists receive a fair share of copyright payments for their work. This is the goal of the European Union (EU) funded (2,8 Million Euro) project Bloomen. 

Bloomen is a consortium coordinated by the transactional service company Worldline Iberia and with the Institute of Communication and Computer Systems (Greece), German public international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (German Wave), music licensing business BMAT Licensing (Spain), Kendraio Foundation (UK), Athens Technology Center (Greece) and Antenna Ltd. (Malta) as participating companies or institutions. 

Bloomen explores how blockchain technology could be used for better management of digital media assets. Better data, better overview, better platforms.

According to the European Union the project runs from September 2017 until August 2020. The funding period will end in a couple of days. The goal of the project is to explore the potential of blockchain technology in terms of

  1. A networked database for music copyright information
  2. Fast, frictionless royalty payments
  3. Transparency through the value chain
  4. Access to alternative sources of capital

Copyright royalty by smart contract

In July 2020 Bloomen published first results. In their article "Consortium Blockchain Smart Contracts for Musical Rights Governance in a Collective Management Organizations (CMOs) Use Case" they report about how useful blockchain technology can be in the music industry. One idea is that music artists can close a smart contract on an web based app. The mechanism connects the creator with the database of music license services and makes sure the artist receive a payment when his or her content is used. 

The distributed application is the access point to the blockchain that visually depicts all the information stored in the blockchain and allows stakeholders to handle their claim. Music claim services are the middleware which allow the distributed app to connect with the blockchain as well as with the database that contains all the metadata of the music work.

If you want to learn more about how this works, about musical rights governance and how Bloomen worked with Alastria blockchain platform, take a closer look at the above mentioned article. In this paper the authors mention a monetary incentive mechanism, too.

The authors of the article come to the following conclusion:

The current study presents a complete and effective application for copyrights management that relies on quorum permissioned blockchain. In the music industry, where diverse roles and actors have to coordinate their efforts for identifying and managing copyrights and conflicting situations on music assets rights, blockchains can be an effective solution, as these can offer an untampered ledger of claims that can be sustained without the need of a third party entity. The proposed implementation couples various and distinct business domains across the music industry organizations and non-profit blockchain associations. The current work presented in this paper successfully combines blockchain and smart contracts with rights management, in order to introduce a novel decentralized framework that contributes to the solution of the specific issue faced by the music industry actors and the CMOs in particular. Exploiting fundamental blockchain principles such as transparency, trust, traceability and decentralization, an effective approach to solve existing issues faced by CMOs is presented. The proposed solution utilizes a permissioned private Quorum blockchain deployed in the Alastria network, that interacts with other dedicated created APIs, tools, components and traditional database solutions, and comprises a single system based on a decentralized architecture. Using its features, we presented the efficiency of smart contracts to model and resolve conflicts in the music rights domain. The specific solution has been piloted and validated in the frame of the Bloomen project.

Revolution in copyright management

I'm very excited about how a mobile wallet app for the media industry developed by Bloomen would look like. A smart contract which guarantees income every time your song is played, sounds very attractive. But a similar copyright payment solution can work in the field of photography or video production. Bloomen is already working on it. If copyright payments via a smart contract is even possible for written content, I do not know. But I believe, we are not far away. Nevertheless, blockchain has the potential to revolutionize copyright management and give back artists and creators their fair share for their work. When this dream becomes finally reality, I'm sure my brother's band can use it to earn the fruits of their work.



Take a look at my other articles about how blockchain technology is used in real life:

This Is The First Worldwide Online Platform For Decentralized Energy Supply

Vehicle-To-Payment Infrastructure: How Blockchain Can Make Railway Control Systems More Efficient

How To Use Blockchain In Real Life

Diamonds And Trust - What Does Blockchain Have To Do With It


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