It seems that SoundCloud will be the first dead unicorn. “Unicorns” – IT-start-ups, worth more than a billion dollars – are rare and generally questionable creatures. The Berlin-based streaming giant is a perfect embodiment of this uncertainty. Surrounded by lawsuits, a bunch of problems with licenses and banal idle time, the company frantically searches for a buyer who would pull it out of the formed quagmire. One of the last to “woo” Google. According to rumors, it may be about buying $ 500 million – this is already half as much as the founders of SoundCloud hoped to receive just a few months ago.
SoundCloud is a symbol of the crisis of the music industry. The crisis that broke out back in the days of Napster. For the past twenty years, the industry has been defensive. Surrounded by new, incomprehensible technologies, she refused any interaction with them. In the end, only the largest players in the music business continued to make a profit. SoundCloud for years called on major labels to cooperate. At the same time, it is because of SoundCloud technologies that these labels began to earn much less.
Suffered, of course, not only they – the artists barely make ends meet against the changing picture of the music world. According to Spotify reports, the performer receives only a cent for each stream. And what about YouTube? Video-service is one of the first in the popularity rating of listeners, but in most cases, playback on YouTube does not bring the actor anything at all. And let the conspiracy theories persistently tell us the opposite, YouTube this is not to blame. The point here is the partial or total absence of metadata. Few people decide to bother with legal information, pouring a radio with Rinse FM, is not it? Another reason is deals on dubious terms invented by labels long before the correct evaluation of streaming in the scale of the industry. Often, YouTube and its competitors simply do not know who is the legal owner of these or other materials. Who pay is completely unclear. As a result, a large volume of royalty settles in the so-called “black boxes”. Views on YouTube support interest in the performer, but only.
So what do you do? There is an opinion that the answer lies in the main technology of our days. It’s about blockade. Blocking is a distributed accounting system. But if you are not an accountant, cryptographer or Bitcoin currency holder, this will not tell you much. Blocking allows people to make payments through the system “peer to peer”, that is, on an equal footing. As a result, the need for intermediaries (banks, etc.) disappears. The information on transactions falls into a distributed database: each member of the blockage receives a copy of the relevant information, and it is stored in clear form, and all operations are irreversible.
Most often, people hear about the blockade in connection with Bitkoyn – an unstable crypto currency, especially popular in the press. But Bitcoin is inseparably linked with the blockade, while Bitchevyn’s blocking does not depend.
Bitcoin can testify to the scale of the blockade. In theory, Bitcoin is incredibly reliable. In order to crack the blockage from transactions in Bitcoins, you will need computing resources that are 525 times larger than those of Google.
Benji Rogers is the founder of dotBlockchain, a new company whose goal is to implement distributed accounting in music. Rogers believes that technology will help solve the most pressing problems of the music industry. This is the conclusion he came up with, creating PledgeMusic, a music platform that was aimed directly at listeners.
“I studied the metadata of the albums sent to us and suddenly realized that the” figure “can not bring the performers anything tangible. And what can be more important for music than the author and payment for his work? “
Photo – monegraph.com →
The dotBlockchain project is extremely ambitious. Its goal – to create a qualitatively new expansion of music content. It was called .bc – by analogy with .mp3 or .wav. But the analogy ends, it is only necessary to turn to the content of the new format. In addition to the audio track itself, .bc will include a whole heap of information: data about copyright holders, usage rules, licensing restrictions – in short, everything that can be transferred in the form of text.
MP3, AAC and other formats are ridiculously unreliable in everything related to the security of metadata. If you believe Rogers, then you can clean out information about the artist from files of this type in seconds. And yet he says:
“The preservation of information about rightholders is becoming more important. Imagine that a certain bass player played on some track, the samples from which were subsequently used 600 times. They were used, of course, for commercial purposes. How does this bass player get money for every use of his work? “
If you incorporate information about rightholders directly into the file, you can get rid of the “black boxes” on which they sit YouTube and others like him. And if you build a system in which rights owners, labels, licensees and streaming services will be linked by one block, then only those who have such a right will be able to change all relevant information.
According to Rogers, blocking technology will allow virtual transactions to be carried out in real time, taking the whole industry out of the brackets, still making paper contracts. Blocking will allow performers to set their licensing terms and impose any restrictions on the use of their own tracks. Through a “smart contract” (English smart contract), a potential licensee can instantly make a deal, bypassing a paper routine that can stretch for weeks.
Potential of “smart contracts” for rightholders is also seen by Mat Dreihurst, the founder of the Saga framework and the musical / visual partner Holly Herndon.
“The artist could choose himself, to whom and what deductions will go to contribute to the work on recording,” says Matt. – The distribution of the money earned by music would be profitable and understandable. In addition, it would become transparent to both the general public and the system itself.
I heard about an interesting example of using blockade and services for identifying music. Imagine – the DJ includes a track, and the funds are already transferred to the right holder. “
Smart contracts will reproduce such schemes without human participation.
But for now dotBlockchain is struggling with infrastructure constraints, Dreihurst is cooperating with Resonate. This is a new streaming service created by the Berlin businessman Peter Harris.
Photo – cointelegraph.com →
“Resonate is a cooperative platform, based on blockbuster technology,” says Dreihurst. – The bottom line is that each of its participants is simultaneously a co-owner of Resonate. Thus, all decisions on the development of the platform are taken in a purely democratic way. “
According to Matt, Resonate will significantly increase the share of streaming for artists and “return the production of music content and distribution of earnings to the performer and his audience.”
Resonate will allow artists to look at the conditions of streaming in a new way. For example, a performer can limit the number of free plays of his track to 100, make it a priority to play at mass events and limit playback outside Resonate with his official website. But all of the above can not be used: theoretically, the blockboy makes possible any combination of requirements.
But the blockade also works outside the music industry. It is not difficult to guess that this is a completely new paradigm. According to her, information about the rightholder should not be stored in closed databases, but should be dispersed. As a result, a qualitatively new understanding of intellectual property can arise.
“Artists will be able to track everything that happens with the song. But they will receive not only information, but also freedom of action in its relation – and this is especially important, – says Dreihurst. – I believe that a comprehensive DRM (English digital rights management, “technical means of copyright protection”) is already irrelevant. We need to create tools through which each individual artist can make his own choice. This will lead to the emergence of several ideologies with respect to intellectual property. “
Photo – digitalmusicnews.com →
Another proponent of the blockade is Lars Holdus, also known as TCF. In his opinion, for intellectual property there are changes, but not all of them will be good. Blockade is ideal for artists.
“In order to receive royalties, agencies with overgrown bureaucratic structures are not needed,” says Holdus.
But despite the obvious merits of the model, creative limitations will be inevitable. First of all, they will concern genres that widely use mixing and sampling.
“Representatives of the mix culture will definitely suffer, because they will have to pay for any samples and tracks they want to use,” Lars explains. “The laws governing the use of copyrighted materials may change.” As a result, musicians who do not have the opportunity to pay royalties, face great difficulties. “
But there is also a global problem, much more simple and topical: how can a young blockbuster movement persuade conservative members of the music industry to take such a desperate step forward? Rogers takes an optimistic view:
“We are given a lot of support, and not only indie labels, but also major companies. We try to manage the processes together with their technical teams. They were incredibly compliant. Of course, no one wants to stick out like me, but we’ll still have three or five potential sponsors. “
According Dreyhurst, the transition to a new system is complicated not only by the industry, but also by the listeners themselves.
“Many people like easy access to music through current services,” says Matt, “because they were created to please a bunch of well-off artists and their fans who simply need to include something in the background while they are preparing dinner. As a result, convince such listeners that the alternative approach is extremely important for the performers themselves, it becomes incredibly difficult.
Another barrier is purely conceptual: the blockage is completely unfamiliar to the general public, and its language and capabilities may seem incomprehensible to it. Therefore, it is important to talk constantly about the alternative and emphasize its potential. “
Blockade is still in its embryonic state. Bitcoin melteshit in the headlines, and large financial and IT companies are ready to assign it. Financial Times maintains a separate blog dedicated to the benefits of the blockbuster. It’s only just beginning. But the undeniable fact is that the industry must change. And not only for its own sake, but also for the sake of an audience that knows the value of a healthy ecosystem for culture and art. There’s something blockade and can shoot.
“It’s not just about music,” says Dreihurst, “but the music community can play a decisive role in changing the course to improve the situation.”
Sources of information