How musicians are using blockchain to make a profit from their songs

How musicians are using blockchain to make a profit from their songs

Bitmark Ambassador Series: Pochang Wu works to defend property rights for music hosted on streaming platforms

Pochang Wu on stage at an Echo show

The Bitmark Ambassador series highlights innovators who understand the importance of property rights for data and digital assets. They are industry pioneers — artists, lawyers, scientists, health researchers, hackers, makers and creators.

“We want to develop a complete ecosystem for indie music….We created an infrastructure that we hope allows all the people in this industry to build a decentralized distributed system for managing artist rights.” says Pochang Wu, the first Bitmark Ambassador (see video embedded at end of this story).

Wu is an entrepreneur and the lead singer for 回聲樂團 (Echo). He has been a major player in a movement to correct issues in Asia’s independent music industry. Wu is the founder of iNDIEVOX, which was the first DRM-free music store in Taiwan. iNDIEVOX’s decision to remove DRM was an important one: it recognized and corrected a problem with online MP3 sales, where DRM was restricting the property rights of consumers buying digital music.

Generally, this has been Wu’s approach in his endeavors: to identify the flaws in the music field and then correct them.

“Give the power back to the people, to each individual, the creators, and those who love music.”

Property rights for songs and royalties.

Wu has worked with many music industry institutions, including labels, streaming services, and more. By using the Bitmark digital property blockchain, he has created a digital solution to the complicated management process of song rights and royalty payouts.

Streaming music services have done much to raise the profiles of indie musicians by providing instant distribution to a mass audience. Yet, the process of paying royalties has generally remained a cumbersome, manual process that can take up to twelve months after a song is released. (Typically, royalty rights are recorded in spreadsheet files stuck behind corporate firewalls.) This time-intense and costly process cuts into the profits of both sides and reduces transparency for the artist.

“We created an infrastructure that we hope allows all the people in this industry to build a decentralized distributed system for managing artist rights.”

Now artists, like Wu, can register song rights as property via the Bitmark blockchain. This enables them to track who owns which rights more effectively, without cumbersome databases or paperwork. Rights owners can more easily transfer their holdings. With clear property ownership, royalty payouts will go directly to the artist.

“Blockchain gives us imagination and possibility, allowing each individual to control his or her own things, whether they are rights, assets, documents, or information.”

Wu is leading the music industry toward a much needed collaborative system of transparency for music rights and management. This is a fantastic first step for individual artists, who will be able to make a living from their digital content because they can legally prove the rights to their original works. It is also pioneering a path, for the music industry as a whole, to implement more transparent systems that benefit everyone involved.

“I think to hold rights in our hands, is a core concept and value for blockchain as well as independent music.”

Watch to learn more about what drives Pochang Wu to help musicians all over the world.

By Bitmark Inc. on January 28, 2019.

Bitmark Enables KKBOX to Pay Music Royalties More Efficiently — Musicians Get the Transparency they Deserve

In an era of global tech monopolies, the implementation of decentralized systems can’t seem to come quick enough; we need more transparency from large companies and more infrastructure that supports individual privacy and control.

Today, Bitmark is pleased to announce a partnership with KKFarm (investment group of KKBOX) and CTBC, to enable KKBOX to more efficiently record, track and transfer the rights of access to musician’s royalties.

Many publications are predicting 2018 will see large companies and institutions implementing digital currency, blockchain technology or property rights for digital assets; this initiative weaves all three together.

The issue at hand

KKBOX is the largest music streaming service in Asia, with over 80% market share and 10M+ paid users. (Think Spotify of Asia — yet KKBOX actually started before Spotify.) One of their biggest pain points is knowing who owns what rights for a given song.

Currently, this ownership information is stuck in excel files behind corporate firewalls and is thus opaque. Both the streaming platform and the artists (rights-holders) are aligned in wanting to clarify lines of ownership and streamline this process. Even though in the news streaming companies (eg: Spotify) are being constantly sued by rights holders, they also want more transparent accounting. Bitmark makes this possible.

Musicians who license their work to KKBOX will now be able to have their song rights recorded in the Bitmark blockchain. Initially there will be 50 artists who participate, but we intend it to be in the thousands by year end.

The main goal of recording music rights is to enable automation of the payout for royalties. Artists can then get their money faster and more efficiency. Subsequently, and in our second phase of the project, we will establish ways the rights can be traded and transferred, creating liquidity of the royalties associated with rights.

How it works…

Music rights will get recorded in the Bitmark blockchain. When royalties need to get paid out, CTBC will verify the digital signatures of both KKBOX and the rights holders before distributing payments. Royalties will be paid out based on whoever holds rights to the music.

Music rights and royalty payments flow

A system of transparency and efficiency

Problems associated with IP rights and digital property have been around since the dawn of the internet. Bitmark’s public protocol, paves a way to solve these issues, by creating clear and verifiable ownership of rights.

Because rights are recorded in Bitmark’s public blockchain, it will be possible for artists to always see who owns what rights (or for anyone to see who is holding rights to what music). It’s possible that artists will begin to get a larger share of their royalty revenue because this system is cheaper, more efficient and automated.

“Bitmark provides tools and services that make rights more clear in the digital environment. Making music rights transparent and transferable is central to both KKBOX and Bitmark. Pochang and I have been in conversation for quite some time and I know these long standing issues he has been working to solve in digital music. Together we are building a solution that will enable the music ecosystem to grow and thrive”

— Sean Moss Pultz, CEO Bitmark

What the future holds

Every digital medium is going to have problems verifying and authenticating digital property and clear lines of ownership. This partnership creates a clear path to a solution.

This project is a cheaper, more predictable, and much more efficient way for streaming service platforms to pay artists their royalties — introducing more options for revenue streams from these royalties in the future.

Bitmark’s mission is to record rights to the world’s assets and make them universally accessible for sharing and trading. Being able to do this with music rights is exciting to us because everyone knows the current royalty model is badly broken. We read articles about artists suing digital music companies all the time; Bitmark really sees a solution to this and we’re thrilled to be making it happen with such a strong partner as KKBOX.

We at Bitmark believe securing property rights can trigger a multiplying effect of opportunity: it creates social inclusion, economic stability, and even environmental stewardship. In the coming months you will see more announcements from us as we roll out even more tools that enable transparency and clarification of rights for many types of assets, and subsequently liquidity for the revenue associated with these rights.

By Bitmark Inc. on January 11, 2018.