Properly tracking royalty metadata has always been a sticking point for the music industry. But a new prototype involving blockchain technology has ASCAP and its French and British counterparts hopeful.
Collecting royalties for music plays has never been an easy process—especially as that music has moved from record stores to streaming services.
But a number of industry groups think the blockchain might be just the solution the industry is looking for.
Last week, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and two of its international counterparts—France’s Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music (SACEM) and the United Kingdom’s PRS for Music—announced plans to prototype new blockchain-based technology for managing royalties.
The three organizations will rely on technology from IBM and the open-source Hyperledger Fabric (managed by the Linux Foundation) to help handle the industry-standard International Standard Recording Codes (ISRCs) and International Standard Work Codes (ISWCs). The blockchain technology, presumably, will help manage this metadata in a decentralized format, with the goal of cutting down on both errors and management costs.
According to Billboard, the prototype test will start with 25,000 works to see how well processing technology can manage such data. SACEM CEO Jean-Noël Tronc tells the trade publication that, if successful, the test will be expanded.
“We believe the benefits may be really significant, if not crucial,” Tronc said. “One of the key issues for rights owners is to improve the accuracy in matching data to distribute the right amount of revenue to the right owners. By leveraging what we can do to tighten the links between ISRCs and ISWCs, we believe there is huge potential for improving the processes of royalty matching.”
ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews noted that the collaboration highlighted the willingness of royalties groups to jump on new technologies as they come to the fore—as well as the fact that there has been a call for “greater transparency and accuracy” on royalties issues within the music industry.
“Blockchain has become well-known for its use in payments systems because of its ability to capture real-time data and transaction updates that can be shared with multiple parties, and in the process, dramatically improve operations by reducing costs,” Matthews explained in a news release.