The race for blockchain dominion has begun in earnest. As Billboard recently reported, the technology offers solutions to multiple, previously intractable, problems of the industry, such as song rights monitoring and complex, but transparent and reliable, royalty distribution.
As the potential of this technology for the music industry becomes more and more clear in the hive mind of the business, different companies are coming up with their own ways of implementing the technology. The latest one is Colu, a platform just launched in beta, aimed at helping developers and consumers with little to no Bitcoin knowledge build their own applications and exchange digital assets for everything from financial industry (shares, bonds, stocks), records (certificates, copyrights, documentation) to ownership (event tickets, vouchers, gift cards).
The first partner getting to work on Colu is Revelator, a cloud-based provider of sales and marketing intelligence for independent music businesses. Revelator is building a rights management API that aims to “provide the secure issuance and distribution of digital assets, including listing and registration of musical works for its clients and helping collecting societies provide more transparency and efficiency to all market participants.”
D.A. Wallach, who has been writing about the potential benefits of the blockchain for the music industry for some time, says he’s thrilled that people are finally “chipping away at the vexing lack of transparency that makes it so hard for artists today to understand their sources of income.”
“The root of the problem,” as Wallach has written, is “the absence of a single dataset containing credits and rights information.” If the industry started using the API Revelator is currently building on top of Colu, such a single dataset could be built — literally — block by block (a “block” being the record created after a certain amount of transactions have been written into the “chain”). The question is how willing the many different stakeholders in the industry are to make this information publicly available. Data, after all, is supposed to be the new gold, and the blockchain treats it as a common good.
According to the people behind Colu, Revelator is just the beginning of what will hopefully be a string of companies partnering with the platform to build solutions for anybody in need of swift data and money exchange.
“You can’t change the ways PROs transact, or label/artist models, without disrupting a large system,” says Revelator founder Bruno Guez. “However, I believe we are there now. Thanks to the technological advances, there are now real solutions that can pave the way forward to new business models.”
According to Guez, the main problems Revelator and Colu are going to solve are:
1.) The long history of lack of trust between parties due to lack of visibility and transparency
2.) Speed, security and efficiency of one-to-one transactions, including distributed content, transfers or assignment of full or partial ownership of IP per territory, per licensor, and per product, and mass payments and micro-payments to all marketplace participants at fractional costs
3.) Creation of new business model possibilities with engagement marketing, distributed crowdfunding, fan co-ownership
4.) Global registry of rights information and distribution of assets with complete tracking, transparency and trust
“More ideas are possible. We’re just getting started”, Guez continues, before adding: “I’m more excited now than I’ve ever been about the future of music.”
Colu uses the Bitcoin blockchain. Other companies are currently developing ecosystems for the music industry based on different blockchains. PeerTracks for example claims that their blockchain (developed by Cryptonomex) is a “Ferrari” compared to the Bitcoin blockchain, as it allows for far more transactions per second (100,000 compared to seven, at the moment). Ujo will be using a blockchain built by Ethereum.
Phil Barry, one of the people developing Ujo, told us recently: “There is no advantage in multiple people all building the same infrastructure — it should be shared and open.” Luckily, merging existing infrastructures won’t be a problem at all. According to Amos Meiri, Colu’s CEO and co-founder, two blockchains can be combined or integrated “very easily. We already see it happening today in different platforms that use Bitcoin blockchain to verify their transactions and benefits from it’s Bitcoin security for example. Since all these platforms are widely open it is easily achievable and one could see other blockchains being built on top of Bitcoin blockchain to leverage some of it’s benefit.”