Metadata is the most uncool, complicated, laborious necessity in music right now.
Without the correct metadata to tell collecting societies which songwriters are owed what, artists can miss out on thousands and thousands of dollars. For some, it’s $40K, for others, it’s enough to buy a house outright in Sydney’s suburbs.
In its bid to detect deep fakes and authenticate ownership, Blockstamped is a Blockchain platform and paid service which requires users to submit their content for certification. The lengthy certification process includes a video chat to ensure authenticity.
While Blockstamped is working to prevent the spread of fake videos, its technology will also benefit artists who are leaving big money on the table due to not identifying full or part ownership, or due to their music being modified by outside influencers (we’re looking at you TikTok).
It’s also believed that because of music’s metadata issue, streaming services aren’t currently 100% accurate when counting the number of plays a song/artist gets.
Exactly how much money is being left on the table due to lack of metadata (which ties songs to all of its creators), is unknown; but one vocal advocate of Blockstamp is film and music producer “Bassy” Bob Brockman.
Records by the two-time Grammy award-winner and Oscar nominee have sold in excess of 250 million units. And with credits on records from Biggie Smalls, Kanye West, Jay Z, TLC, The Fugees, Christina Aguilera, and Herbie Hancock, it’s any wonder Blockstamped has caught his attention.
Bassy uses Blockchain solutions for auditing, negotiation and payments for intellectual property.
To understand more about Blockstamp technology and why it’s important for artists to take notice, TIO asked Bassy how he came across it, how big the metadata issue is, and how it makes art now quantifiable.
Q&A: “Bassy” Bob Brockman
How did you come across Blockstamped yourself?
I met [Gary] Jackson who is one of the co-founders of Blockstamped working on film projects with a company out of Singapore called 108 Media. When he got involved with creating the artificial intelligence technology to write half of Esquire’s Singapore April 2019 issue – I was intrigued.
How was he going to protect human content while at the same time allowing AI to create its own? And how do you determine what’s what?
Why are Blockstamps so important for musicians and producers like yourself?
The music industry has been in a desperate need to lock music to the musician who created it for decades. Sure, music is a soup of ideas that feed one another. But in the end, a hit song has an originator.
Being one who has been the originator of multiple hit records, having a safety net to say, “This is mine” has been a godsend.
One of the reasons you support Blockstamped is because you believe streaming services aren’t 100% accurate when counting the number of plays a song/artist gets.
How big do you think this problem is? How much money is being left on the table here?
That’s a very good question… how accurate are they? I mean Jay Z decides to tilt the bots in favour of playing his wife’s music and Kanye’s music 24 hours a day and cuts them both a check for 2 million dollars.
There is so much room for corruption that the current system is no more transparent than the old one. What’s to stop a label from “buying millions of spins” on Spotify or any other platform to feature their artist more often?
It’s obvious with the Tidal case that it’s fairly simple to game any streaming system the same way people game YouTube. The fact is all these platforms make it possible for players with more money to spend to crush the smaller artists.
The PROs have already favoured the majors and big artists as far as getting attention of their licenses and it is so opaque that it’s barely possible to audit the societies. That is why I am in favour of a totally transparent Blockchain platform like Blockstamped to be the cop on the beat for these tech platforms and look after the artist’s interests.
The fact is all these platforms make it possible for players with more money to spend to crush the smaller artists.
Do you believe that once Blockstamped is used widely, it will reveal instances of tampering?
Pirates have been alive since seafarers. A nerd technology is not going to stop pirates. However, those legit organisations that are paying artists for their contributions can be audited now.
And that’s a power we didn’t have before. The difference today is that the piracy is invisible to the eye.
What are the actions that need to happen to ensure streaming services are more accurate in reporting streams?
I like that Blockstamped is offering something called transanalytics. I will show you mine if you show me yours. So it’s analytics that goes both ways.
Right now Facebook and Google have black box APIs – and we really don’t know if they are correctly counting things. We are at their mercy.
With Blockstamped using Blockchain, you cannot fake a call out to a ledger that is out on the blockchain. Especially because we are using Ethereum which is using Smart Contracts. The only way to end things is if an asteroid hit the earth and caused a worldwide EMP (electro-magnetic-pulse).
Democracy, transparency, and fairness is something artists are continuously chasing from the music industry. What are some things you wish artists knew when it came to their data?
First of all, I wish artists knew that in today’s age – art is quantifiable. Before when you created a vinyl record, cassette, or an 8-track (that dates me) – when we used to put it out there for the world to listen to – that was it.
It was one data point. Purchase. And re-purchase.
But now – thanks to Napster – everything is quantifiable. How many times it was played, rewound, volume turned up, and shared. We have data points for the number of BPM by the listener preferences.
Heck, we can link a Fitbit or Apple Watch to heartbeats linked to BPM. Some BPM match a certain person’s heart rate. So maybe the artist is creating music that fits someone’s physical makeup, hell, their DNA. And that’s what data can tell them.