I’m Robert Kaye the Executive Director of MetaBrainz – the legal entity behind MusicBrainz. I wanted to chime into this discussion a bit since this exact topic has been on my mind for the last few years, especially with regard to the crashed and burned GRD. I’m interested in seeing what happens with ICE, but if the fundamental premise is even similar to the GRD, I would expect a similar outcome.
And like you, I see that MB could play a significant role, mainly because it can present a solution that is the antithesis of all things GRD. But, before I launch into my thoughts on how this could work, I need to throw out some caution about MusicBrainz, money and control.
MusicBrainz isn’t a code-base, a database or a non-profit; it is a community of people editing the data in a collaborative fashion. Without the community being intact and doing what they love doing, MB is worthless. Given that, we need to ensure that future proposals do not put the community in harm’s way.
And if MusicBrainz becomes in any way authoritative or partially influencing who gets paid, there is serious trouble on the horizon. The Internet is filled with crooks and people who want to make a quick buck and these people would quickly identify us as a way to divert money into their pockets. I learned this cautionary tale talking to former execs from PayPal. When I asked why the hell the fees were so steep for PayPal to move money from one PayPal account to another PayPal account (which amounts to a few cheap SQL transactions), the answer was: Fraud. PayPal needed to move insane amounts of money every day in order to be able to offset the costs of fraud prevention.
Needless to say, this was an eye-opening situation for me. So, one critical criteria part of any valid solution is to ensure that MusicBrainz isn’t inundated with fraud issues. We can’t, nor want to handle this mess.
Onward to my actual thoughts. Have a look at these slide presentation I gave to the European Commission a couple of weeks ago. It gets interesting slide 16 onward:
My idea is to create another new non-profit that would work closely with MusicBrainz, but that would also be independent and would then manage the more sensitive information that could in the end define how money flows in the industry. Forget the nonsense being bantered about in the industry about the blockchain in music – that is mostly rubbish. However, all of the people in that camp have some good motivations. I think a public (but central, since distributed is still very hard) ledger of rights would not be hard to setup and operate.
And your suggestion that this new resource contain links to other resources so that people like yourself can more easily do the due diligence to see how owns what, is the second time I’ve heard it suggested in as many weeks. Playing on that: If there are 5 resources and 3 agree, but two don’t, we can look at the quality rating of the 2 that disagree. Is the quality rating of those two lower than the others? That might be a strong indication that there is agreement about who owns (is allowed to license) what. Managing links and quality ratings are things that this new org could tackle. Im still not sure where the splits would factor in here.
Does that make any sense so far? Clearly I haven’t worked out most of the wrinkles in all of this, but I am keen to continue having conversations like this to see if we can figure out a way forward. Also, are you aware of the Fair Music Collective project at Berklee?
Finally, with respect to adding the relationship type that captures the writer <-> publisher relationship, let’s invoke our style leader @reosarevok – thoughts on this? I think it makes sense and when it comes from an obviously qualified source like tdruth, we should seriously consider it. Should I make a STYLE ticket for you?