Interviewed by: Robert Levine, Contributor, Billboard / Author, Free Ride
Watch the RightsTech Summit Keynote HERE!
Open protocols are at the heart of many of the most important systems that we have. The Internet works because of TCP/IP. The web works because of HTTP. Email works because of SMTP. These are open systems that developers can build applications on top of. There are plenty of proprietary protocols out there too. But proprietary protocols tend to lock in users and drive value to the owners of the proprietary protocol, like Microsoft, Apple, Google, etc.
One of the problems we have had in tech is that there aren’t large monetary incentives to create and sustain open protocols. If they are open they cannot be easily monetized by traditional means. However, that is changing with the emergence of blockchain technology and crypto-tokens.
Dozens of technology, law and music professionals gathered at the Japan Society in New York on Tuesday for the inaugural RightsTech Summit, determined to brainstorm how partnerships between tech companies and content creators could drive smarter rights management and monetization.
Rights tech, like freight forwarding and other under-the-radar industries, is unsexy but wholly necessary, and profitable if done right. Most music-tech startups tend to focus on “first-mile” problems in artists’ careers, such as discovery, marketing and crowdfunding. The last mile—what happens when finished musical works are digitized and, in Rogers’ words, “drop off a data and revenue cliff”—has remained largely untransformed.
If you had ownership of the kitty Softbank used to buy ARM, that would leave you a measly $5bn in change to pick up as much of the independent sector as you could muster. Which would be nigh on all of it. In other words, the amount Softbank just paid for ARM would, by and large, buy you the entire history of music rights. Just like that.
Because streaming music advances their other ambitions, Apple Music, Amazon, Alphabet’s Google and YouTube units, don’t need their services to be hugely profitable, though none of them are selling subscriptions at prices that suggest a willingness to lose money. That gives the tech companies a major advantage over smaller companies like Pandora Media Inc., Spotify AB and French counterpart Deezer, whose main businesses are music streaming.
“I think that any company that has some other motive [for offering streaming] is going to win,” said Paul Young, a music-business professor at the USC Thornton School of Music. That is at least partly because the music-only companies are burdened by heavy costs. The paid services typically spend 70% of their revenue on licensing music and much of the rest on acquiring customers.
The cyber attack, according to CEO Ned Scott, affected over 260 user accounts. As he confirmed further, the platform have also incurred a small loss – worth around $85,000 – in the form of their native cryptocurrencies Steem Dollars and Steem. While the origin (of the attack) and perpetrators behind it are still unknown, the platform is currently working with cyber security experts and law enforcement authorities to investigate the incident.
Steemit has successfully contained the security threat. As the team works on assessing the damage and investigate further into the incident, some of the features may be temporarily unavailable for the users. Steemit has comforted the community by announcing that the user accounts and wallets are not at any risk and the normal operations will be resumed soon.
If you think attribution when the term “Rights” comes up in the context of digital media, then you’re not seeing an important aspect as far as how tech breakthroughs have impacted content distribution. For now, let’s chat with conference co-chair Paul Sweeting, Principal of Concurrent Media Strategies, LLC, to get a download on the subject.