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The Impact of Digital Innovation and Blockchain on the Music Industry

With the recent developments in blockchain, regulators must be creative in arriving at the right mix of policies that foster innovation, encourage better distributional effects, and prevent future monopolies. IADB reached out to TIV to analyze the implications of distributed ledger systems (DLTs), i.e., blockchain and other Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies for the Music Industry, culminating in the report “The Impact of Digital Innovation and Blockchain on the Music Industry.”  The study was a multidisciplinary effort involving some of the top music and computer science universities. This included a collaboration between TIV and IADB, the Berklee College of Music, and the MIT Media Lab (part of the Open Music Initiative). A particular emphasis of the project involved a foray into how blockchain technologies could help artists in developing regions (such as the Caribbean) and provide artists an improved source of monetization, which is more systematic, transparent, and profitable.

The Open Music Initiative (OMI) is a non-profit with a mission to create open-source protocols for the “uniform identification of music rights holders and creators,” i.e., to enable industry platform interoperability and to empower creative artists with greater economic stability and equality. The joint work by OMI and IDB involved executing a music laboratory (the LAB) to pilot platforms based on blockchain technology for the music industry. This was largely done in the context of the Creative Economy in the Caribbean due to the challenges that many artists face in profiting from their art.

The LAB activities included many activities, including the cataloging and attribution of live DJ mixes, commercialization of mixed tapes from original material, and compensating musicians for visual works using their songs as data. TIV analyzed these mechanisms and elaborated on the technical aspects of blockchain and the music industry, addressing economic, technological, and policy-related considerations. Some of the topics for which TIV lent its expertise included flexible pricing and revenue optimization, revenue sharing, the role of smart contracts, and intellectual property, among others.

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