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Monday, November 30, 2015

Music industry receptive to blockchain technology


Written by Justin OConnell — Phil Barry believes the Ethereum blockchain can change the music industry. To him, it is “the current best system for building complex decentralised applications.”

Barry might know. He consulted for Courtyard and ATC Management, leading a team working on financial analysis, media strategy and user experience for the world-first release of Thom Yorke’s solo album Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes on BitTorrent. He currently leads up Ujo Music.

Ujo aims to engage in a number of joint experiments with artists, PROs and music companies into 2016, striving to represent a new shared infrastructure for the creative industries and thereby return more value to content creators and their customers.

The Ujo prototype was built in collaboration with the Grammy-winning artist Imogen Heap, and was released last month as a single song case study for how a block chain-based music industry might function.

“There is a growing frustration among the artists we speak to over a perceived disconnect between the value that their work generates and the income that they receive,” Barry tells CCN. “This is exemplified by the recent controversy over Sony’s leaked contract with Spotify and especially the way that, for example, the appreciation in the value of the equity that Sony negotiated in Spotify does or doesn’t flow back to the artists whose works were the basis for those negotiations.” Things are changing, however, and Barry hopes Ujo can play a major role in the future of the creative industries.

He cites social media for the dramatic change in music marketing. “Artists can now go direct to fans through tools like Soundcloud or Youtube without the need for traditional media,” he says. “This hints at the potential for a music industry that is much more artist driven, but the tools do not quite exist yet to fulfill the potential of this direct model in business terms.” According to Barry, many in the music industry are onboard.

It is important to note that the block chain to which Barry refers is not the Bitcoin block chain, but, rather, Ethereum’s block chain, a “Bitcoin 2.0” technology that seeks to make possible quicker and smaller transactions than for which Bitcoin is designed, as well as decentralized corporations incorporated on the block chain.

Barry believes that the block chain can help artists who work with major music companies, as well, by offering transparency to increase confidence in the system and reduce contract and royalty disputes.

“I hope that artists and writers will seize the opportunities of block chain so that we end up with a music industry that ultimately rewards people for creating great content,” he says. 15 years into the disruption of the industry, the music industry, in Barry’s eyes, is changing.

“I have to say that I have been extremely impressed by the extent to which both music companies and performing rights organisation have been willing to engage with us,” he notes.

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