London-based tech start-up JAAK has announced a successful pilot of its blockchain network, KORD. Pilot participants include BMG, Global Music Rights, Outdustry, Phoenix Music International Ltd, Sentric, Warner Music Group and Warner/Chappell Music.
The mere mention of the word “blockchain” can make people’s brains shut off, but the pilot is a step forward for a plan to use the technology to solve vast inconsistencies in royalty payments: As anyone who’s worked in music publishing knows, those inconsistencies in songwriter and publisher credits can add up to millions in lost income. The ultimate goal is to have a single database providing royalty and intellectual-property information, and JAAK’s pilot is a move toward that goal.
The participants provided product and rights data to JAAK, which was held in a private version of the KORD network. According to the announcement, “KORD will operate as a permissionless, decentralized network of intellectual property information, allowing rights holders to collaborate on an industry-wide view of rights.” Users will be connected to a shared data network where they have the sole authority to insert, update and remove their own information, creating a public record of rights and an audit trail. It will include a framework to detect conflicting information in the network, allowing users to resolve conflicts and converge on a global view of intellectual property rights. (For further explanation, see an FAQ provided by JAAK below.)
Following completion of the pilot, JAAK — founded in 2015 by Vaughn McKenzie-Landell, Freddie Tibbles and Viktor Tron — will be launching “an industry-wide Music Sandbox,” allowing the company to develop products and the KORD network in collaboration with the music industry. According to the announcement, the company aims to build a new global network for intellectual property rights registration, management and monetization, starting with the music industry.
“The internet solved many of the problems relating to rights issues but compounded others” said Vaughn McKenzie-Landell, CEO of JAAK. “We have developed the Pilot in collaboration with the music industry to directly address their needs. The goal of KORD is to harness blockchain technology to make the world of IP rights better for everyone, starting with the music industry.”
Sebastian Hentzschel, CTO & EVP Recorded Royalty Processing, IT & Systems, BMG, added “Metadata is the lifeblood of today’s music business. From studios to streaming sites, a clearer picture of recordings and copyrights could yield untapped benefits for artists and writers — and JAAK is pushing an exciting frontier.”
Sean O’Malley, COO, Global Music Rights, said “Regardless of format, Global Music Rights is committed to clear and concise intellectual property metadata, especially the information surrounding licensing and rights ownership. KORD is technology that enables stewards like us to collaborate on the dynamic picture of every song and ensure the correct writers and publishers are accurately and efficiently compensated.”
Steve Clark, EVP Global Operations, Warner/Chappell Music, commented “Warner/Chappell is committed to ensuring our songwriters are paid as quickly, accurately and transparently as possible. We’ve invested heavily in our own systems, but we’ve also worked with pioneering partners, such as JAAK, to help us keep at the cutting edge of technology in this area. The Pilot is going well and we look forward to continued collaboration to harness blockchain technology to the service of our songwriters.”
(The following is an FAQ of the KORD program provided by JAAK.)
What is KORD and how does it work?
- KORD will be an open data network which runs on the Ethereum blockchain, enabling rights holders to record and assign intellectual property rights.
- The network will therefore represent a global view of intellectual property rights.
- As a decentralized network, KORD includes a framework for defining programmatic rules which are used to detect conflicting information in the network, allowing users to resolve conflicts and converge on a global, accurate view of intellectual property rights.
What problem is JAAK solving here?
- The internet has increased choice and made accessing music more convenient for consumers.
- It is becoming increasingly difficult for stakeholders to record, track, assign and monetize rights, due, in part, to:
- Developments in consumption such as streaming, have led to music being accessed globally on a larger scale than ever before
- Managing rights ownership is hugely difficult as each song has multiple copyrights (Master & Composition), each of which can have different ownership by territory, with the composition copyright often being split between multiple owners in a single market.
- The massive increase in data driven by the changes in music consumption and availability of content, combined with the inherently complex copyrights has led to a critical need for an industry-wide view of rights, which JAAK looks to achieve with KORD.
- This industry-wide view of rights will enable the music industry to access commercialization and licensing opportunities which would have historically been unscalable.
What is the pilot?
- The pilot involved participants contributing music rights information, metadata and audio assets into a private and secure sandbox of the KORD network for testing purposes.
- Participant data was loaded into a graph database, so queries could be performed to link rights information from multiple sources, with each participant having a namespace in the database containing only their data allowing for complete provenance and authority when viewing data from multiple sources.
- The pilot is the first of its kind to successfully bring together a diverse range of music industry participants from major to independents, publishers to performing rights organizations, to find a solution for managing and monetizing music rights that works for every part of the value chain.
Who is participating in the pilot?
- Pilot participants are stakeholders at every stage of the music value chain including but not limited to BMG Rights Management, Global Music Rights, Outdustry, Phoenix Music International Ltd, Sentric, Warner/Chappell Music and Warner Music Group.
What is the pilot trying to achieve?
- The pilot set out to prove that blockchain technology could be harnessed to allow for industry-wide collaboration on a holistic view of rights and with that in place, they would be able to access new commercialisation and licensing opportunities.
- The success of the pilot signals an exciting chapter for the music industry, proving, that through collaboration there is the potential to deliver new industry-wide infrastructure.
Wouldn’t a centralized database solve the same issue, and more efficiently?
- IP rights are held by a large number of diverse and often competing parties. Expecting each to provide data to a single centralised global database, has proven to be an insurmountable challenge to date.
- Public blockchains provide the opportunity to converge on a single view of information from diverse sources, maintaining verifiable provenance, ownership and data integrity without the need for a central controlling entity.