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Berklee Partners with MIT to Help Students Get Paid for Their Music

15/09/2020

Berkee has long advocated for the creation of a more open and transparent music business, one that gives artists more control over their music, their data, and ultimately their careers. When the college formed the Open Music Initiative (OMI) in 2016 with Netflix, YouTube, and dozens of other industry players, it set out to do just that.

OMI's first priority: fixing the transfer of music metadata-the full information about an artist's work, including the musicians, songwriters, producers, labels, and publishers involved in its creation-to ensure that when a song is played, the right people get paid and credited. The industry's lack of standardized protocols for copyright attribution and royalty allocation have led to a tangled mess of licensing deals, rules, and intermediaries, resulting in error-filled royalty statements and millions in lost or misallocated royalties, leaving artists unpaid for their work.

The solution, according to OMI, was to develop an industry-wide framework linking artists and rights-holders to their works through a network of ledgers-an open-source model that has proven successful in the book publishing, auto parts, and library systems industries.

Berklee's new licensing platform, RAIDAR, developed by OMI, is just such a framework, putting the initiative's values and technical principles into practice. Built using blockchain technology, and designed in collaboration with MIT Connection Technology, RAIDAR allows Berklee students to license their music to visual-media students at other schools. RAIDAR is being piloted with the digital-filmmaking program at Lesley University, with plans to expand the platform not only to other film schools, but to other markets such as virtual reality and video games.

Ready to License Your Songs?

RAIDAR is open to Berklee students and alumni. Upload your music now. The platform uses smart contracts-agreements that self-execute when specific conditions are met-to eliminate the need for costly middlemen. And, unlike many music libraries, RAIDAR doesn't act as a publisher or take a cut from its users; artists and rights-holders retain full control of their music, earning money from their songs wherever and whenever they are used.

Berklee students and alumni worked with MIT to design and code the project. Meghan Smyth M.M. '19, a graduate of Berklee's campus in Valencia, Spain, helped to integrate the platform with Berklee's identity-validation system, and created the user-experience design for its educational materials. She first learned about OMI during Berklee's Silicon Valley student trip, then started attending the tech calls with MIT that led to RAIDAR.

To learn more, we talked to RAIDAR cofounders George Howard, professor of music business at Berklee, and Nicole d'Avis, managing director of the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE). Below are some excerpts from the interview.

What sets RAIDAR apart from other blockchain-based music platforms? What problems does it solve? Howard: There are very few blockchain-based music platforms out there that are solving any problems in a meaningful way. RAIDAR was created by design to utilize the current state of the art of blockchain, rather than some aspirational one, to solve some very specific problems: (1) there is no decentralized, immutable ledger for Berklee students to ascribe their ownership to their works, which becomes extremely relevant in the case of disputes over creation and ownership; and (2) there is no current disintermediated licensing platform in which Berklee students (or anyone else, for that matter) can efficiently have their music licensed with the least amount of transaction costs possible (other services take anywhere from 15 to 99 percent of the licensing revenue). Blockchain tech-in its current state-solves for both: decentralized, permanent ledger and disintermediated transactions (via smart contracts).

D'Avis: This is also the only blockchain-based music platform designed by education institutions for artists. Building on work of the Digital Data Exchange and Mechanical Licensing Collective, we've combined Berklee's artist-centric approach with MIT Connection Science's expertise in data, identity, and privacy to create a platform for artist empowerment and career sovereignty. Blockchain and other distributed-ledger technologies (DLT) are meaningful because they take the power of data (who has played your song and how many times), identity (are you correctly identified), attribution (are you accurately credited for the work you did), value (how much is your music worth), ownership (do you have the rights to a song), and of reputation (do you have access to your followers and fans) out of the hands of tech companies, instead putting that autonomy, and that power, into the hands of artists. RAIDAR allows artists to be in control of their music valuation and of the usage and data associated with each song. Critically, it is committed to making the entire process and platform as transparent, accessible, and comprehensible as possible to students, alumni, and other artists in the Open Music network.

Where did the idea come from? Howard: It is a direct outgrowth of OMI, and is essentially the product that was birthed via the purpose of OMI; that is, an interoperable technological solution guided by OMI's values in the service of helping artists to create sustainable careers on their own terms.

D'Avis: Open Music exists to promote interoperability, education, and innovation within the music industry, but how to do this can be quite abstract, especially when you get into the technological weeds. During our February 2019 member meeting in L.A., George; Thomas Hardjono, CTO of MIT Connection Science; and Eric Scace found a breakout room where they sketched out RAIDAR's beg
LINK: https://www.berklee.edu/news/berklee-now/berklee-partners-mit-help-stu...
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