PRS for Music, ASCAP and SACEM initiate joint blockchain project

ASCAP, SACEM, and PRS for Music initiate joint blockchain project to improve data accuracy for rightsholders

Blockchain

Three of the largest member-owned collection societies in the world – ASCAP, the American Society for Composers, Authors and Publishers; SACEM, the Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music; and PRS for Music – today announced a groundbreaking partnership to prototype a new shared system of managing authoritative music copyright information using blockchain technology.

The societies are working together to model a new system for managing the links between music recordings International Standard Recording Codes (ISRCs) and music work International Standard Work Codes (ISWCs). Establishing robust links between these two pieces of data offers a practical solution with enormous potential for improving the processes of royalty matching, which will in turn speed up licensing, reduce errors and reduce costs.

The goal of the project is to prototype how the music industry could create and adopt a shared, decentralized database of musical work metadata with real-time update and tracking capabilities.

Under the initiative, data and technology teams from SACEM, ASCAP and PRS for Music are working with IBM, leveraging the open source blockchain technology from the Linux Foundation, Hyperledger Fabric, to match, aggregate and qualify existing links between ISRCs and ISWCs in order to confirm correct ownership information and conflicts. While still at an early stage, the project is proving to be an exciting reference point for future industry blockchain solutions.

Blockchain has become well-known for its use in payments systems for its ability to manage records without centralized governance – a characteristic that will be harnessed in this project to resolve conflicts between conflicting identifiers for the same work across multiple rights holders.

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We are very excited about this joint initiative. SACEM’s vision is to ensure a diverse and sustainable future for music, where creators are rewarded efficiently for their work. We have a long history of constant innovation and this partnership represents the next stage in that story. Through this partnership, we aim to develop new blockchain-based technologies that will tackle a long-standing issue with music industry metadata – a problem that has grown more acute as online music rights distribution has become increasingly decentralized with the rise in digital channels. By developing this blockchain technology in partnership with ASCAP and PRS for Music, we will unlock value to the benefit of music creators worldwide.

Jean-Noël Tronc, SACEM’s Chief Executive Officer
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ASCAP is always looking for opportunities to exploit new technology platforms to specifically address the needs of our members and the music industry, which has been calling for greater transparency and accuracy. Blockchain has become well-known for its use in payments systems because of its ability to capture real-time data and transaction updates that can be shared with multiple parties, and in the process, dramatically improve operations by reducing costs. ASCAP is excited to partner with SACEM and PRS on this project on behalf of our members.

Elizabeth Matthews, ASCAP’s Chief Executive Officer
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Establishing authoritative copyright data has long been a goal of PRS for Music and is one of the biggest challenges the industry faces. Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies are opening up a world of new opportunities for all industries to address long-standing challenges. The digital market requires real-time reporting on behalf of multiple stakeholders across the world. If blockchain can help us achieve this, it will unlock opportunities for developers of new digital applications, increase accuracy of royalty payments and release value for rightsholders. We see huge opportunity for beneficial industry change and collaboration from this initiative.

Robert Ashcroft, PRS for Music’s Chief Executive

About PRS for Music

PRS for Music represents the rights of songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK and around the world. As a membership organisation the company ensures creators are paid whenever their music and songs are played, performed, broadcast or reproduced in public and provides business and community groups with access to 22.2 million songs through its music licences. With over 100 representation agreements in place globally, PRS for Music's network represents over two million music creators.

In 2016, the organisation collected over half a billion pounds (£621.5m) on behalf of its members, making it one of the world’s leading music collective management organisations.