Ujo Music is using blockchain to find new ways to distribute music.
Capetonian Simon de la Rouviere will soon launch Ujo Music in collaboration with ConsenSys, a New York-based blockchain software development company.
“We are building a platform that allows musicians to automatically license their works through Ethereum. This cuts down on middle-men taking cuts, gets artists paid immediately, and reduces the barrier to entry for consumers of rights to license music without prolonged contract negotiations,” he says.
Ujo has worked with Grammy artists such as Imogen Heap and RAC to demonstrate how blockchain can help artists in this way. “We are close to releasing this power to any artist, launching an alpha version before the end of the year,” adds Simon.
Blockchian is essentially a list of ever growing records or blocks that are linked together and secured using cryptography. Each block has a timestamp of when an event occurred, a link back to previous blocks, and the information for the event or data created in the block. It is resistant to modification and this allows for a clear record of events that is visible by any party.
Ethereum, for example, is a blockchain-based open source platform that allows for the distribution of the cryptocurrency Ether. It is a cryptocurrency similar to bitcoin except it allows for more modification to the blocks and it is the payment method currently being used by Ujo Music.
By registering with Ujo Music, music is coded into the ledger as belonging to the musician, and any purchases are handled automatically.
Not only is the record of publication there for all to see, it also has potential to help connect musicians to their audience. This means that there’s a global record of an artist’s works. This record also includes information on how to pay the artist through a smart contract.
“We are starting quite simple with the smart contract architecture: simply using it to disburse and settle payments, but we have quite a few novel ideas to use this to create novel licensing schemes: such as, if you can prove you were at a gig, you can download the song for free,” adds De la Rouviere.
He believes Ujo is particularly useful in South Africa because it will allow local artists to have an easier path to international audiences because they will not need to go through labels. They will not need to sell their rights to the music for it to get heard. Ideally this will increase demand in local music on a global scale
Once the project has grown into something larger, the plan is to create a payment structure where musicians can be paid in realtime in hard currency like dollars or rands.