The Question: How will Increased Transparency in Music Rights Manifest?
This is the second in this series. We asked a half dozen leaders in the music and technology field:
How will increased transparency in music rights and payments manifest? In what ways will it specifically help songwriters, performers, and rights holders?
Tom Silverman, Founder of Tommy Boy and New Music Seminar
Transparency will continue to increase over the next ten years. It will not help anyone because the economics will not change but 80 page contracts will become 8-page contracts that artists can actually read. Artists will potentially share a larger share of the revenue but they will give up advances and wait for their bigger share along with their label investor partners. Some of the middlemen will be squeezed out which will get more money to artists but labels will be important partners to artists.
Vickie Nauman, Founder/Owner of CrossBorderWorks:
There are a lot of discussions about transparency, but we have to remember that the entire industry is stitched together with a long chain of private agreements. So you can't just flip a switch. I believe that over time, the labels and publishers who offer exceptional data, systems, and transparency will be able to win over artists and songwriters who want more insights and control of their work from their rightsholders, and who can then choose collaboratively when to embrace transparency.
Sharky Laguana, Founder/CEO of Bandago:
Over the long term I think we will have increased transparency, but we won't get there without a fight. Artists will need to stick up for themselves, join forces in solidarity and pick fights and make critical demands at the right time if they want transparency. It might ultimately require congressional involvement.
Stephen White, CEO of Dubset Media:
Music rights are complex. There are multiple rights types associated with the distribution and consumption of music and I am often surprised by the lack of understanding, even within the industry, of these complexities. Transparency is a magnificent tool for putting facts in artists hands and allowing them to understand the details of how their content is being used and what that use means to them. The music industry suffers from both the feeling by many artists that they do not have appropriate control over the use of their work as well as a deep distrust of technology given the effect that it has had on the market. There is a tremendous opportunity for us as an industry to build transparency into the next generation of infrastructure that is being developed right now that should lead to better understanding and faster payment.
Jim Griffin, Co-Founder of Pho and Managing Director of OneHouse:
Everyone talks about transparency, but are they ready? For example, do they want their own expenditures on music displayed in public, to the micro-penny, or their own receipts from music payments made public? Who wants transparency into their own bank accounts? Who would want the authorities to track those who listen to Iraqi folk music, or to a controversial rapper? The flow of money in music and media is especially revealing of our dreams, our hopes, our experimentations, our opinions, our kinks -- we need to closely examine just how transparent this process wants to be. At the same time, I feel especially supportive of drilling money down to the creators that generated the art, incentivizing them to create more, so I support the goals of transparency, if not every means that might be employed.
Paul Wiltshire, Founder/CEO of Songtradr:
I believe transparency, efficiency and increased payment frequency is a natural and crucial evolution for DIY artists. The ability to review where and when you are earning is key to knowing how to run your business of being an artist. The more performance data and information they can access, the more they can target audiences and pinpoint opportunities. I can say that Songtradr is working on a very exciting technology due for release at the end of this year on our platform, which will provide independent artists and their customers with some very powerful tools.
Benji Rogers, Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer of PledgeMusic:
Increased transparency will emerge from new workflows out of the studio, as the industry moves towards an open and interoperable data standard. This data standard will be hard coded to the music itself and it’s more basic elements will be available for all to see in a public Blockchain. This will help rights holders, performers and songwriters to not only identify themselves but to also give them the ability to express their rights and rules into the very works that they create. This in turn will enable faster commerce and greater clarity over audit and payment rights.